Working Holiday Visa Guide – Canada

Updated: Dec 14, 2018

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At Part Wild we have had a lot of experience in visas, so much so we could probably write a book just on our experiences alone. Some people have pleasant visa experiences and others have a living nightmare gathering every piece of their existence for evidence just to be granted that grip at a fresh start. Without a doubt the most lengthy and costly working holiday visa to apply for is the International Experience Canada visa, or IEC for short. Put your faith in us, we will give you a detailed guide on how to apply, what to expect when applying, arriving, how long the visa takes and costs.

The IEC is aimed for individuals aged between 18 – 35 years old, the individual’s country of citizenship must have a bilateral Youth Mobility Arrangement with Canada. If you are unsure if your country has an agreement you can find out at simply go to the bottom of the page and select your country from the list shown. Once your country has been selected you will be given detailed information on what the visa allows you to do within Canada, how long the visa lasts and if the pools to apply are open for the year or closed.

Originating from the UK myself, this article will be based on the information needed for a UK citizen wanting to apply. The visa lasts for 2 years and allows you to travel and work in Canada with more than one employer. As a citizen of the UK you will only be allowed to participate in IEC once in your lifetime. You must have a valid passport throughout the 2 years in Canada, speaking from experience I had to renew mine before even applying for the pool.

What is the pool and applying?

To put it simply, the pool is the first step in applying, you fill out some information about yourself and simply wait to see if you match the visa requirements needed. If you’re a fit, you will gain an invitation to apply for the visa itself. Think of it as an expression of interest in Canada and that you are a fish in a pond with everyone else and the more appealing that fish (you) is, the greater chances it will be caught by a net (Canada). Every year CIC have information on when the pools will open, how many visas will be available for that year and when the pool will close. It’s a weird concept but it use to work on a first-come first-serve basis, so it may seem complicated but it is in fact a more civilized approach.

Invitation to apply and supporting documents.

However, being invited to apply does not mean you have scored the visa and now the real work begins. On your CIC profile you filled out to apply for the pool, there will be extended information required. There is a lot of information required here and it does take a lot of effort. My advice is take your time, know when you need a break, gather information as soon as possible and don’t give up halfway through due to a minor hiccup. Police checks are an issue when applying, CIC need original copies of police certificates in any country you have lived in for over 6 months. Original police certificates also cost money, I needed one for both the UK and Australia costing me in total roughly 60 sterling pounds. Your need an up-to-date CV to upload to your application as well as current passport photos that will need to be scanned and lodged with your documentation.

Medical exam.

Based on your occupation, you may need to have a medical exam, CIC will notify you if you need to have one. These are not cheap as you have to go private and there are only several locations across the UK that perform the exam. I had to travel to Plymouth for my exam, which cost close to 500 sterling pounds. The exam didn’t take long, a quick x-ray, medical check-up and a blood test, to which I nearly passed out, again and I was sent on my way. The results are automatically sent to your visa application within a few weeks so literally turn up, pay, have the test and leave.

Travel insurance and proof of funds.

You have to have travel insurance for the 2 years you will be in Canada. I have heard of cases where people have not been granted their visa when arriving in Canada due to them not being covered medically. Travel insurance is not expensive, its best to use and simply put in the duration of your stay and see what options are available. When you're settled in Canada it is worth investing in MSP as this will cover you should you need to visit a clinic or hospital without having a hefty bill. You are required to show your proof of funds; your funds need to be over CAN $2,500 which isn’t an unrealistic target. To show your funds, get a copy of your bank statement printed out by your bank and bring it with you when you leave, failing that there is always online banking if WIFI is available.

Submitting your application and receiving your POE letter.

It’s a lengthy process getting everything together for your final submission, but by god does it feel good when you press that final submit button. Fees for the visa start at CAN $150 and processing time can take up to 8 weeks, it all depends on how many applications are being processed but my visa took roughly a month before my Port of Entry (POE) letter was given. Your POE is basically your golden ticket to entering Canada, you will need to print it off and show this to the immigration officer when arriving.

Arriving in Canada.

Arriving in Canada is simple, just bring all the original documents you sent as evidence and bring your POE letter. The process of immigration for myself was actually a breeze, the immigration officer just checked over several pieces of evidence and my POE letter. After a quick chat of where I was heading etc, my visa was printed off and I was allowed to go about my business. Compared to my experiences in countries such as Australia and Dubai, Canadian immigration is a relaxing and a welcoming experience and the easiest part of the whole process. At the airport you can also apply for your SIN (Social Insurance Number) which again is an easy process and is needed if you plan to work in Canada.

So overall the application for the IEC visa seems like a daunting process, but when broken down is easily manageable. The sooner you gather your evidence, the less stress you will encounter rather than leave it all towards your deadline. The costs are reasonable unless you have to have a private medical exam which can put a dent in your funds but that’s just part of the process and cannot be avoided. It's important to remember you can not be turned away for having too much evidence so bring everything you feel may be important as you can discard it later. For more information or if you have any questions regarding the visa process feel free to get in contact.