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Canada Working Holiday Visa Requirements: Cost and Processing for Foreigners

Canada ticks the boxes for many thousands of people each year who want to travel, explore, and work. It is easy to see why. With its simply stunning and often untouched scenery, enviable quality of life, and prosperous economy, the options are endless, especially for those who are just starting out on their adult life. If you have just finished your education, or you are looking for an adventure before you embark on the next chapter of your life, Canada may just be perfect for you. Canada, like many countries around the world allows young people the opportunity to work and travel on a working holiday visa. Working holiday visas typically afford holders the flexibility to travel and work with few restrictions. In this article, we will review the Canadian working holiday visa scheme (also called International Experience Canada), including the requirements, costs, and processing time.

What is International Experience Canada?

International Experience Canada (IEC) is the name given to the Canadian youth working holiday scheme. Not everyone can apply for the IEC, rather your country or territory of citizenship requires a formal agreement with the Canadian government. The countries which are part of the IEC scheme include most countries in the European Union (not all), the UK, Australia, Chile, Taiwan, and New Zealand. According to the Canadian immigration rules, applications for the scheme are limited; “Some countries only allow you to participate once. Others allow you to participate twice, but in different pools. Because each country is different, it’s important that you check to see if you’re eligible to apply”.

There are three categories of IEC permit:

  • International Co-op (Internship)
  • Working Holiday
  • Young Professionals

Those granted an IEC work permit can stay in Canada for up to two years.

I am a British National, am I Eligible to Apply for the Canadian IEC Working Holiday Scheme?

The eligibility criteria for British nationals who wish to apply for working holiday permit in Canada are as follows:

  • You must be a British citizen from:
    • the United Kingdom or
    • the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey
  • You must have a valid United Kingdom passport with British citizenship or a valid Channel Islands (Jersey and Guernsey) passport for the duration of your stay in Canada
  • Your work permit in Canada can’t be valid longer than your passport
  • You must be aged between 18 and 30 (inclusive)
  • You will need a minimum of CAN$2,500 to help cover your expenses in Canada
  • You must have health insurance for the duration of your stay
  • You must have, before departure, a round-trip ticket or demonstrate that you’ll have the financial resources to purchase a departure ticket at the end of your authorized stay in Canada
  • You cannot be accompanied by dependants
  • You must pay the fee (for the 2020 season, the IEC participation fee is CAN$153)

How do I Apply for the IEC?

The IEC works on an invitation basis, rather like the Australian points-based system. This means that applicants must first register and will then be placed into a pool of eligible candidates.

Step 1) Register interest by creating an online profile

In reality, there are several pools, one for each country and category. Those who wish to participate in the scheme create an online profile and answer a series of questions. The answers provided are then used to assess their eligibility to be placed into a pool (it is possible to be placed into more than one pool). The questions are based on your:

  • country of citizenship
  • country of permanent residence (where you live permanently)
  • country of residence (where you live now)
  • student status (if this applies to you)
  • job offer (if this applies to you)

Once you have completed and submitted your profile, you will then need to wait to see if you are invited to apply. If invited, applicants have ten days to accept or decline, and 20 days to apply for a work permit (like the completion of the profile, this is also done online). Where applicants have been placed in more than one pool, they will not be considered for another pool until they have either declined their application for another pool, or their work permit application has been refused.

Step 2) Apply for a working holiday permit invited

It is essential that you make your application within 20 days from the date (and time) you accept the invitation. In addition to your application, you will need the following documents:

  • Proof of financial support
  • Proof that you have undergone a medical examination (only applies if you’ve recently lived or travelled in certain countries or territories for six months or more, or you plan to work in the health field, primary or secondary education, child care or elderly care
  • Proof of your health insurance
  • Police certificates (required for countries or territories where you’ve spent six or more months in a row since the age of 18.
  • CV
  • Passport
  • Digital photo
  • Form IMM5707 providing information on your family
  • Electronic Travel Authorization or Visitor visa application

You will also need to provide your biometrics at your nearest visa application centre.

Following the submission of your IEC, you should expect to receive a decision within four weeks. This may be longer at present due to COVID-19.

Final Words

The process of applying for a working holiday permit under the Canadian IEC scheme is covered extensively on the Canadian government website. This includes the eligibility criteria, forms, application process, and other details such as how to claim a refund if your application is refused or withdrawn. If you need help at any time with your application, you can also engage the help of immigration solicitors who can guide you through the process. We wish you all the very best with your Canadian working holiday.

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"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

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Kiran Sardar

"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR applicatio...

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