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  • Writer's pictureHeather MacIntyre

Canada’s Working Holiday Visa

Taking a gap year? Or time off to travel, try new things, and find yourself? Why not spend a year in Canada, working and exploring from coast to coast!

Canada’s extremely popular Working Holiday program, part of the International Experience Program (IEC) has officially opened for the 2022 season! This program offers work permits for 1-2 years to young people aged 18-35 from 36 different countries including: Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and most European countries. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for young people to work while exploring all that Canada has to offer.

Work permits for people aged 18-35 from 36 different countries including: Australia, New Zealand, UK, and most European countries.

Citizens of countries which have a reciprocal agreement with Canada, may apply to IEC. Young Canadians also have similar opportunities in participating countries. Depending on your country of citizenship, the age of eligibility can be 18-30 or 35 years. For example, Australian citizens between 18-35 are eligible, while UK citizens are eligible between the ages of 18-30.

Receive a highly prized open work permit, allowing you the freedom to work for any employer, in any job, in any location across the country!

No job offer, no problem! Unlike traditional work permits in Canada that typically require the support of your employer, IEC offers opportunities for an open work permit. IEC consists of three different categories or “pools”: Working Holiday, Young Professionals, and International Co-op (Internship). Both the Young Professionals and International Co-op categories require applicants to have a job offer/internship in place prior to submitting a profile. However, the Working Holiday category is intended as a way to earn money while traveling and experiencing all that Canada has to offer. As such this category does not require a job offer. Instead you receive a highly prized open work permit, allowing you the freedom to work for any employer, in any job, in any location across the country!

Imagine spending the winter working at a world class ski resort in Alberta—spring exploring colourful small towns on the east coast—summer as a hiking guide in BC's rainforests—and fall working in chic Toronto or watching the leaves change in Ontario's cottage country.

Not all countries offer all three IEC categories, so it is important to check the country specific information prior to making any plans. Generally, IEC may only be participated in once, however certain countries may permit applicants to participate twice, under a different category each time.

Duration of validity depends on your country of citizenship and the category which you are selected for. For example, Australians participating in the Working Holiday category may be issued a work permit for up to 24 months, whereas their peers in the International Co-op category may receive a maximum on 12 months. Work Permits issued via IEC may not be extended.

Participation in IEC can serve as a stepping stone to a future immigration application, because Canadian work experience is highly valued on permanent residence applications.

Importantly, if your goal is immigration, IEC can help to boost your CRS score under Express Entry and make your profile more competitive. Participants who are able to gain 12 months (1,560 hours) of qualifying skilled work experience in Canada, may apply this time toward their future permanent residence application and also qualify for immigration via the Canadian Experience Class program.

How does IEC work? If determined eligible for participation you may submit your profile online, and be added to a pool of candidates. IRCC regularly holds draws and issues invitations to participants at random. Draws happen throughout the year until the program quota has been reached. The number of invitations issued to each country and each category vary, so submitting your profile early can provide the greatest number of opportunities for selection. Once invited, you have 10 days to accept the invitation, and then an additional 20 days to submit a work permit application. At Current Immigration we can assist your with this process from start to finish!

IEC application fees are just $156, and if participating in the working holiday category, an additional $100 open work permit holder fee. Applicants must also show a minimum balance of $2,500 in their bank account to cover initial living expenses, and purchase medical insurance for the duration of stay.

New for the 2022 season, IEC participants must be fully vaccinated with a Government of Canada approved vaccine in order to enter Canada and participate in the program. More information about IEC can be found via IRCC.

Interested in participating? Contact us today for more information and to determine your eligibility +1 437 747 6177 or

Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to explore Canada the way you want!

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