How to Get a Canada Working Holiday Visa

Covering a huge space of almost 10 million km2, Canada is a giant of a country that you certainly won’t be able to explore in a week or two. If you really want to see every inch of the country, consider applying for a Canada Working Holiday Visa, also known as an International Experience Canada (IEC). This way, you’ll be able to legally earn enough cash to support yourself on your travels for up to two years.

Explore the Rockies with a Canada Working Holiday Visa
Explore the Rockies with a Canada Working Holiday Visa

How to Apply for a Canada Working Holiday Visa

To apply for a Canada Working Holiday Visa, you need to be aged between 18 and 35 at the time of application and live in one of the 30 countries that have a bilateral youth mobility agreement with Canada. These include Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland. You also need to have the equivalent of $2,500 (Canadian dollars) when you land in the country to cover initial expenses, be able to take out health insurance for the duration of your visit and have a return ticket or proof of the financial resources to be able to pay for one.

Unlike other countries which simply require you to apply for a visa, Canada asks that you become a candidate first. If you succeed in becoming a candidate, you’ve then got to enter yourself into a pool, out of which applicants are drawn at random at regular interviews and given Canada Working Holiday Visas.

For the 2017 programme, applications were opened on October 2016 and will remain open until all spaces are filled. In countries where the demand is high, this could be as early as spring or summer. There’s only a limited number of applicants drawn each year, so the earlier you apply, the greater your chance of success is.

Canada Working Holiday Visa requires some luck
Canada Working Holiday Visa requires some luck

The process of applying for a Canada Working Holiday Visa

  • Complete the official ‘Come to Canada Questionnaire’. If you’re successful, you’ll receive a personal reference code
  • Use your personal reference code to create a MyCIC account
  • Build an IEC profile
  • Submit your profile and choose which IEC pools you want to be in
  • Wait for your invitation to apply and accept it
  • Submit your work permit application
  • Pay all relevant fees

If this all sounds way too much hassle for you, there is a much simpler option. Visa First has successfully processed hundreds of Canada Working Holiday Visas for people eager to travel and work abroad and they’ll happily do the same for you, too. When you use this registered independent agency to sort out your visa, you don’t have to worry about messy paperwork or anything – they take care of it all for you.

Avoid redundant paperwork by using Visa First 
Avoid redundant paperwork by using Visa First

Processing time

After you’ve submitted your work permit application, it can take up to eight weeks for it to be processed. Once processed, you’ve got one year to enter Canada and activate your Canada Working Holiday Visa.


If your application is a success, a letter of introduction will be sent to your MyCIC account. You’ll need to take this with you when you travel to Canada and present it to an immigration officer. It’s not until this point you’ll actually receive your work permit.

Visa fees

To get a Canada Working Holiday Visa, you need to pay a $150 participation fee and a $100 open work permit holder fee. If you’re applying under the Young Professional or International Co-Op categories, your employer needs to pay a $230 compliance fee, too.

About Nicola Quinn


Nicola is a travel and food writer living in the Canary Islands who loves exploring far-off places, pushing herself to the limit and trying local eats wherever she goes.

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2 Responses

  1. Avatar for Nicola Quinn

    Rameez Mohamed

    I would so love to have a Canadian work holiday visa, I just came back from New York and would so love to visit Canada on my next travel


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