A working holiday program has been a way for foreign nationals to gain work experience outside their home countries. These programs have not just promoted bilateral relations between participating countries. Working holiday programs have also promoted cultural exchange and youth mobility.
Countries like the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia have their own working holiday programs. Like these countries, Canada has one too. Canada’s working holiday program is known as the International Experience Canada Program.
Candidates of Canada’s International Experience Class may travel and work in the country as temporary seasonal workers. If you can go on a working holiday in Canada, not only will you be helping to address Canada’s labour shortages. You will also be gaining valuable work experience in a country characterized by cultural diversity and opportunity.
If you are interested in going on a working holiday in Canada, the International Experience Class is for you.
What Is A Working Holiday Visa?
A working holiday visa is a temporary work visa that may be employer-specific or open. Employer-specific work visas or work permits allow a person to work for just one employer in Canada. On the other hand, with an open work permit, a student or temporary resident has the freedom to look for an employer in Canada.
Like in other countries, the working holiday visa Canada gives students and young professionals is valid temporarily. Depending on a candidate’s category, he or she may be able to work in Canada for one year.
For some participating countries like New Zealand, Portugal, Australia, and the United Kingdom, candidates may stay in Canada on their work permits for up to 24 months.
Within the duration of a working holiday visa, a person could travel and work in Canada. In many ways, a working holiday visa allows you to be on a vacation where you can work to fund your travels. Hence the term “working holiday”.
Minimum Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible, you need to meet certain requirements.
First, you need to come from a country that is listed as a participating partner of the International Experience Canada program. At the time of writing, there are currently 35 participating countries. If you come from any of these countries, you may be eligible for the International Experience Canada program.
These countries are:
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- The United Kingdom
Other than coming from a participating country, there is an age limit. The minimum age is 18 years and depending on where you are from, the age cap could be 30 years to 35 years. To check the exact age requirements per country, you could visit the IRCC’s main site to see a table of the countries as well as the requirements for each.
The Three Working Holiday Visa Categories
To get a working holiday visa, you can apply for one of three working holiday programs under International Experience Canada.
Working Holiday Category
Many candidates who wish to both work and travel in Canada apply for this program. Having the open work permit allows them to seek employment in different parts of Canada to which they may travel. The open work permit offers much in terms of the flexibility required for travellers in Canada.
For this program, you do not need to have a job offer. This is because the work permit provided under this program is an open work permit. There is also no NOC requirement in the jobs you may take.
The Working Holiday visa program is available to all participating countries except Switzerland.
Young Professionals Category
If you wish to add more to your resume for professional and career development, work experience in Canada will be both impressive and beneficial.
To apply for the Young Professionals category, you will need a valid job offer from a Canadian employer. This gives you an employer-specific work permit. As well, it must be in an industry in which you are already involved.
The work you will be rendering with your employer-specific work permit is in a professional or skilled occupation. For this reason, the NOC skill types of the job you could take or be offered must be:
- NOC 0
- NOC A
- NOC B
A minimum educational requirement for this program is a post-secondary degree or diploma. This must accompany your work permit application alongside other documents.
International Co-op Or Internship Category
In some ways, this is similar to the Young Professionals category. Except, you need to be enrolled in a post-secondary institution to apply for this program.
To be eligible, you will need a job offer. You also need to give proof that the work placement is part of your course requirements.
As with the Young Professionals category, work permits issued under the International Co-op Program of International Experience Canada are employer-specific permits. For this reason, you will be working for the same Canadian employer throughout the duration of your stay in Canada.
You need to make sure that the job offered must be directly in-line with your field of study.
The Application Process
You can apply for your working holiday visa by following these steps:
Step 1: Check If Your Country Is A Participant Of The International Experience Canada Program
The eligibility requirements, as well as the length of your working holiday visa, will depend on your country of origin. In some countries, the maximum length of stay on a working holiday visa is 12 months. In others, it is 24 months.
Also, some of the categories for working holiday visas are not available in other countries. For instance, if you come from Belgium, you may not be able to apply for the International Co-op category. Likewise, if you are from Switzerland, you may not apply for the Working Holiday visa category.
Also, biometrics are not required in some countries. Hence, you need to be sure that you are following the requirements specific to your country of origin. You can do this by checking if your country is a participant in the International Experience Canada program.
Step 2: Have Your Documents Ready
Depending on the category for which you are applying, you may also need a copy of your job order and post-secondary educational credentials.
For some countries, you may not need to give biometrics.
Other documents you need are:
- Proof of funds or any financial support
- CV or resume
- Digital photograph
- Family information
- eTA or visitor visa (if you have it)
You will need these later in the application.
Step 3: Create Your IRCC Online Account
Creating an online account is easy. You can do this:
Creating an online account involves placing certain information in an online form. In this online form, you need to answer questions. Also, you need to provide a valid email address.
Step 4: Submit Your IEC Profile
Once you have created your IRCC account, you need to answer an online questionnaire, as mentioned in the previous step. You also need to choose the category for which you are applying.
The information you have given will be used to complete your profile. Your profile is an “expression of interest” to apply for a working holiday visa. This is not your application yet.
Step 5: Wait For An Invitation To Apply (ITA)
The IRCC will send you an invitation to apply. You can receive it in your IRCC account. You will also receive an email notification.
Once you receive your ITA, the IRCC will give you 10 to 20 days to complete your application.
Step 6: Pay The Necessary Fees
Often, the fees are the following:
- Biometrics fee: 85.00 CAD
- Work permit and visa processing fee: 153.00 CAD
Payments should be made online. For this reason, you need a valid debit or credit card.
Step 7: Submit Your Application And Documents
To submit your documents, you need to submit them as scanned copies. The copies need to be coloured and clear to view.
You will receive a notification on your profile that says IRCC has received your application.
Step 8: Give Your Biometrics
Some countries are exempted from the biometrics requirement. If you need to provide yours, you will be instructed.
Be sure to bring your biometrics instruction letter when you go for your biometrics. This letter contains instructions about getting your biometrics. You receive this after you pay your biometrics fee.
Step 9: Wait For Your Working Holiday Visa And Work Permit
The processing time between submitting your application and receiving your working holiday visa is about four weeks. It takes this long in most cases.
At the time of writing, the offices of the IRCC and Service Canada are operating with limited staff due to COVID-19. For this reason, you can expect some delays in your application.
Some people travel to Canada for leisure. Others go to Canada to work.
Through the International Experience Canada program, you can do both. You will be able to work and travel in Canada.
Hence, this program is for you if you wish to experience Canada and gain valuable work experience at the same time.