How To Apply For A Canadian Working Holiday Visa

by CiCi
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Canada is known for its vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, and welcoming atmosphere. One of the best ways to experience all that Canada has to offer is through a working holiday visa. This type of visa allows young people from participating countries to live and work in Canada for a limited period, typically up to 12 or 24 months, depending on the country of origin. This guide will provide you with a detailed, step-by-step approach to applying for a Canadian working holiday visa, ensuring you have all the information you need to embark on this exciting adventure.

What is a Canadian Working Holiday Visa?

A Canadian working holiday visa is part of the International Experience Canada (IEC) program, which offers young individuals from various countries the opportunity to work and travel in Canada. This visa is particularly popular among recent graduates and young professionals who want to gain international work experience while exploring Canada’s diverse regions.


Eligibility Criteria

Before applying, it’s crucial to ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria. Here are the general requirements:

  • Age: Typically, applicants must be between 18 and 35 years old. However, the age limit can vary depending on the applicant’s country of citizenship.
  • Country of Citizenship: You must be a citizen of a country that has a bilateral youth mobility agreement with Canada.
  • Valid Passport: Your passport must be valid for the entire duration of your stay in Canada.
  • Financial Requirements: You must demonstrate that you have enough funds to support yourself when you first arrive in Canada (usually around CAD 2,500).
  • Health Insurance: You must have health insurance for the duration of your stay.
  • Round-Trip Ticket: You must have a return ticket or sufficient funds to purchase one.
  • No Dependents: You cannot bring dependents with you on a working holiday visa.
  • Police Certificate: You may be required to provide a police certificate to prove you have no criminal record.
  • Medical Exam: In some cases, you may need to undergo a medical exam.

Step-by-Step Application Process

Step 1: Check Your Eligibility

The first step in the application process is to determine your eligibility. Visit the International Experience Canada (IEC) website to confirm that your country participates in the program and review the specific requirements.

Step 2: Create a Profile

If you meet the eligibility criteria, you need to create an IEC profile online. This profile will be used to determine your eligibility and, if successful, to invite you to apply for a work permit.

  1. Create a GCKey: Go to the Government of Canada website and create a GCKey, which is your secure login for accessing government services.
  2. Complete the IEC Profile: Fill out the IEC profile with your personal information, including your name, date of birth, nationality, and contact details.

Step 3: Enter the Pool

Once your profile is complete, you will be placed into a pool of candidates from your country of citizenship. There are several pools, corresponding to different types of IEC programs, such as Working Holiday, Young Professionals, and International Co-op. Ensure you enter the correct pool for the Working Holiday visa.

Step 4: Receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA)

If you are selected from the pool, you will receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA). The selection process can be random or based on various criteria, depending on the number of applicants and the country’s agreement with Canada.

  1. Accept the ITA: You must accept the ITA within 10 days.
  2. Submit Your Application: After accepting the ITA, you have 20 days to complete and submit your work permit application.

Step 5: Gather Required Documents

To complete your application, you will need to gather several documents. These typically include:

  • Proof of Funds: Bank statements or a letter from your bank.
  • Health Insurance: Proof of health insurance coverage.
  • Passport: A copy of your passport’s information page.
  • Digital Photo: A recent digital photo that meets the specifications.
  • Police Certificates: If required, obtain police certificates from your home country and any other country you have lived in for six months or more since the age of 18.
  • Resume/CV: Some pools may require you to submit a resume or CV.

Step 6: Complete the Online Application

Log in to your account and complete the online application form. Ensure all information is accurate and complete. Upload the required documents and pay the application fee, which is typically CAD 150.

Step 7: Biometrics Appointment

After submitting your application, you may be required to provide biometrics (fingerprints and a photo). If so, you will receive a Biometrics Instruction Letter (BIL) with instructions on how to proceed. Visit a designated biometrics collection point to complete this step.

Step 8: Wait for a Decision

Once you have submitted your application and provided biometrics, the next step is to wait for a decision. Processing times can vary, so be patient and check your online account regularly for updates.

Step 9: Receive Your Port of Entry (POE) Letter

If your application is approved, you will receive a Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction. This letter is not your work permit but will allow you to obtain your work permit upon arrival in Canada.

Step 10: Prepare for Your Trip

Before you leave for Canada, make sure you have:

  • POE Letter: Print and carry your POE Letter of Introduction.
  • Passport: Ensure your passport is valid for the duration of your stay.
  • Health Insurance: Have proof of health insurance coverage.
  • Proof of Funds: Have bank statements or other proof of sufficient funds.
  • Return Ticket: Carry your return ticket or proof of funds to purchase one.

Arriving in Canada

When you arrive in Canada, you will need to present the following documents to the border officer:

  • POE Letter of Introduction: This letter was issued to you when your application was approved.
  • Passport: Ensure your passport is valid and matches the information on your POE Letter.
  • Proof of Funds: Bank statements or other proof that you have sufficient funds.
  • Health Insurance: Proof of health insurance for your entire stay.
  • Return Ticket: Your return ticket or proof of funds to purchase one.

The border officer will review your documents and, if everything is in order, issue your work permit.

Finding Work in Canada

Once you have your work permit, you can start looking for employment. Here are some tips to help you find a job in Canada:

  • Update Your Resume: Make sure your resume is tailored to the Canadian job market. Highlight any relevant skills and experience.
  • Networking: Join professional networks and attend industry events to meet potential employers.
  • Job Search Websites: Use popular job search websites such as Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn to find job postings.
  • Employment Agencies: Consider registering with employment agencies that can help match you with suitable job opportunities.
  • Apply for Jobs: Apply for jobs that match your skills and interests. Be prepared for interviews and make sure to follow up on applications.

Living in Canada

Living in Canada on a working holiday visa offers a unique opportunity to experience Canadian culture and lifestyle. Here are some aspects to consider:

  • Accommodation: Research and arrange accommodation before you arrive. Consider short-term rentals initially while you get to know the area.
  • Cost of Living: Be aware of the cost of living in the city where you plan to stay. Major cities like Toronto and Vancouver can be expensive, while smaller towns may be more affordable.
  • Transportation: Familiarize yourself with public transportation options in your city. Many cities have efficient public transit systems.
  • Health Care: Ensure your health insurance covers you adequately. Some provinces require you to enroll in their health care plan if you stay for a certain period.
  • Banking: Open a Canadian bank account to manage your finances more easily. Major banks include RBC, TD, and Scotiabank.

Making the Most of Your Experience

To make the most of your working holiday in Canada, consider the following tips:

  • Travel: Take advantage of your time in Canada to travel and explore different regions. Each province offers unique attractions and experiences.
  • Meet People: Join clubs, volunteer, or participate in community events to meet locals and other international travelers.
  • Learn and Grow: Use this opportunity to develop new skills, whether through work, education, or personal interests.
  • Stay Connected: Keep in touch with family and friends back home. Share your experiences and stay connected through social media and regular communication.

Extending Your Stay

If you wish to stay in Canada beyond your working holiday visa, explore other visa options. You may be eligible for a different work permit, a study permit, or even permanent residency. Consult the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website for more information on available options.


Applying for a Canadian working holiday visa is a straightforward process, but it requires careful preparation and attention to detail. By following this comprehensive guide, you can ensure that your application is complete and increase your chances of a successful outcome. A working holiday in Canada is a fantastic opportunity to gain international experience, make new friends, and explore one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Good luck with your application, and enjoy your Canadian adventure!

Related topics:

What Is A Typical Canadian Holiday

Tracking the Journey of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train

Which Canadian Province Reigns Supreme?


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