How to apply for a Canadian Working Holiday Visa
International Experience Canada – information for applicants
Working holiday visas for Canada come under the International Experience Canada programme (or IEC for short). IEC visas are released through a lottery system, to be eligible you must register with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). To register you need to follow the steps listed below to create a MyCIC account and enter pool for the Working Holiday visa. Once you are in the pool for a Canadian Working Holiday Visa you are eligible for each draw – this means on specific release dates, randomly select applicants will be issued an invitation to apply for an IEC visa.
IRCC operates a reciprocal agreement with other governments around the world, this means that each country has a quota of visas limiting the number of people who can come to work in Canada. Invitations to apply are issued randomly, so the earlier you get in the pool, the better – as it means you are eligible for more rounds of invites. Pools usually open in November time and IRCC announce the closure of the pools around 1 week before the last invites go out.
There is no end date yet for the visa release for 2017, however, the 2016 pools closed for the UK in July and for the rest of the world in September.
Canadian working visas are available under the International Experience Canada Program. Follow our five steps to registering.
Requirements for Canadian Working Holiday Visas
- Be between the ages of 18 and 30 (35 for some countries). Your application must be received by IEC on or after your 18th birthday and before your 31/36 birthday.
- Have the equivalent of 2,500 canadian dollars to help cover your expenses at the beginning of your stay.
- Hold comprehensive health-care insurance for the duration of your stay which includes medical expenses and repatriation for the duration of your visa. You will have to present evidence of this insurance when you enter Canada.
- Be legally admissible to Canada
- Pay a participation fee (approx CAD$250)
- Be a citizen and hold a passport from one of the countries listed at the side of this page
1) Complete the Come to Canada questionnaire, this will take about 10 to 15 minutes. This questionnaire will check your eligibility for the IEC Working Holiday Visa by asking you questions about your nationality, age and intentions in travelling to Canada.
IMPORTANT: Read through our guide to completing the questionnaire further down this page before you start the questionnaire.
2) After completing the Come to Canada questionnaire, you’ll be given a personal reference code. Use this code to sign up for GC Key which will create a MyCIC account.
There is guide to creating a MyCIC account further down this page.
3) Once logged in to MyCIC, complete the remaining fields in the IEC profile builder. Select Working Holiday as the IEC visa option you wish to apply for.
4) After you’ve completed the above, submit your profile and you will be fully registered for the Working Holiday visa pool. On multiple release dates, IRCC will send Invitations to Apply for a visa to randomly selected individuals. If selected, you will receive an Invitation to Apply in the My Messages section of your MyCIC account. Be vigilant and check your MyCIC account for messages, as email notifications can go into Spam. If you receive an invitation to apply it means a visa has been reserved for you if you meet the criteria.
5) After receiving an Invitation to Apply you will have 10 days to start the application or decline the invite. To accept the invite you will need to click the ‘Start Application’ button in your MyCIC account within 10 days – if you do not do this, your invitation will expire and you will be back in the pool.
- Open the Come to Canada questionnaire.
- Select: START
- Select: Check your Eligibility
Go through the questionnaire and fill in the questions – these are listed here with advice given where required.
- What would you like to do in Canada: IEC Travel and Work.
- How long are you planning to stay in Canada: Temporarily – more than 6 months.
- What is the country/territory of your passport: Select your country code.
- What is our current country/territory of residence: Where you are currently living – this doesn’t have to be your country of citizenship.
- Do you have a family member who is a Canadian Citizen or permanent resident and is 18 years or older: Answer according to your circumstances.
- What is your date of birth: You will only eligible if you are 18 – 30 (35 in some countries). If you turning 18 in the current IEC year, you will need to wait until you turn 18 to apply.
- Do you have a letter proving one of these organisations will help you plan your trip or find work in Canada: Select no.
- What is your country/territory of permanent residence: This is the country you reside in now – or if you are travelling or studying abroad, the country you call home. For most WSC applicants this is your country of citizenship.
- Do you plan to do a work placement or internship in Canada as part of your studies: Select no. If you are signed up for a Winter Sports Company internship, still select no as it is not part of a college or university course.
- Do you have a signed letter of offer, contract of employment, or internship agreement from an employer in Canada: Select no – if you are on a Winter Sports Company internship, your employment and internship agreement is based upon successful completion of the level 1 ski/snowboard instructor course so you do not have a signed letter of offer upon application for the working holiday visa.
- Are you registered at a college or university in your country of citizenship: Answer according to your current circumstances.
You will see if you are eligible or not on this screen. If you are successful you will see a statement such as:
‘You may be eligible to come to Canada under International Experience Canada initiatve. You can create a profile in the following pool(s)’
• Working Holiday Category: Click Continue.
Your personal reference code will be detailed at the top of this page. Reference codes are usually 12 digits long (2 letters followed by 10 numbers).
Make sure you take note of this code.
Information on how to register and log in to your online profile is also supplied on this page.
Once you have a personal reference code, create a MyCIC account and submit a profile to the IEC Working Holiday category pool. This account is where your full visa application will be processed if you are successful in receiving an Invitation to Apply later on.
You can create the MyCIC account by following the instructions supplied on the page at the end of the Come to Canada questionnaire or sign up here.
Creating a MYCIC Account
- Accept the Terms and Conditions for the application.
- Create a username for your MyCIC account. It is really important you keep a record of all the details and passwords used, so you will be able to log back in to the account in the future without any issues. We recommend you save all the answers you enter somewhere safe.
- Create a password for your account following the instructions as before
- Next you will need to provide answers to some security questions. You will need to be able to answer these when logging back in to your account, so make sure you write them down!
- Your account is now created.
Submit your Profile to the IEC Working Holiday Visa Pool
- The MyCIC welcome page should provide option on which visa you want to apply for. Select International Experience Canada (IEC).
- You will be prompted to enter the Personal Reference Code you received after completing the Come to Canada questionnaire.
- From the reference number your account will automatically be set up for the IEC visa application.
- Complete your profile by filling in all four sections listed. This is basic personal information you will be able to answer easily. Any questions call the Winter Sports Company office.
- Once all four sections are completed you will now be able to submit your profile to the pool.
- Finally all you need to do is read the disclosure statement and complete the Electronic Signature by selecting “I agree”, filling in your name, answering the security question and then click “Sign”
Your profile should now be submitted for an IEC Working Holiday visa. Once you’re entered in to the pool there’s nothing to do until the Canadian Government actually release the visa invites, this will be done sporadically throughout the year.
IRCC will send out invites to apply to randomly selected profiles. The process is very similar to a lottery and all applicants registered in the pool will have the same odds of being chosen.
If selected, you will receive an “Invitation to Apply” in the MyMessages section of your MyCIC account. At this point you will then only have 10 days to accept the offer and start your application. To accept, click “Start Application” in your MyCIC account. As soon as you start your application, you will have 20 days to complete your actual IEC visa application and submit it.
You have 10 days to accept or decline the invite offer. Log on to your MyCIC account to accept the initiation. You will receive a confirmation letter giving you a deadline for the full application to be submitted – this will be 20 days from accepting the invite.
Starting the Application
Once you have accepted the invite, you will need to select ‘Start Application’
- Go to the section ‘applications’
- Select the application ‘work permit’
- Review the information on the pre-filled forms (this is info you have given when you entered the pool)
There are several sections to complete. As you complete each section and save it, you will need to select ‘Validate’ to mark that section as complete. Please ensure you double check information is correct before you validate.
IEC Application Tips & Advice
- Names: If you have your middle name in your passport, this must be entered under first name(s). The information in this section must match exactly as it is in your passport.
- Personal Description: This is likely to be greyed out, transferred from your initial details.Please call us if you notice any errors in this section.
- ID Documents: If you have Dual Citizenship you must select one passport for your entire IEC application – and it needs to match the pool you are in (for example, if hold British/Irish citizenship and you’ve received an invite from the British Citizen pool, you can’t apply with your Irish passport).
- Immigration History and Citizenship: This will be greyed out information, check it is correct and if it is not, please call the office and we’ll advise on a case by case basis.
- Answer yes or no to the question regarding previous countries you have spent more than 6 months in, in the past 5 years. Enter details of the countries and the dates you spent over 6 months in this section too.
Contact Details & Background
- Telephone: Select ‘Cellular’ if you are inputting a mobile number.
- Background Questions – Answer all questions truthfully and accurately. If you have previously applied for a Canadian Visa (including a previous IEC) answer ‘Yes’ to the question ‘Have you previously applied to enter or remain in Canada?’
- ‘Have you ever committed, been arrested for, been charged with or convicted of any criminal offence in any country/ territory?’ – answer yes if you have been arrested before, even if you were not charged or convicted.
Work and Education History
- Employment and education experience from the last 10 years will need to be completed.
- Under education high school, secondary school, college/sixth form all count as ‘Secondary’.
Once you’ve completed and validated all four sections, select ‘Continue’ and you will be taken to a document checklist.
IEC Application Required Documents
- Family Information Form
This is provided in the application and can be filled in electronically and signed with a digital signature or printed off, signed and scanned.
- Police check(s)
You will need a police check for every country you have spent more than 6 months in regardless of the reason for visiting the country.
UK police checks are provided by ACRO.
Information on other countries’ police checks can be found on the IRCC website.
- Canadian CV/Resume
Format should be similar to this A guide to writing your Resume.
- Digital Photo Passport photo scanned
- Legible copy of your Passport Scanned – including all stamped pages
- Proof of Medical Form
A request for a medical is dependent on answers given in previous questions – reasons can be medical history, countries lived in and job history.
You may need to provide more than one file for each requested document, there is only one upload field and each document will override the previous, so you need to merge multiple PDF documents into one file. You can use an online merging tool.
If any of your documents (such as a police check) will not be available by the 20 day deadline, you must upload proof of application, this could be a scanned receipt or a screen shot of an email confirming application or screenshot of application.
Letter of Explanation
Only use the letter of explanation if you feel there is something you need to clarify in your application. For example:
- Explaining anything that comes back on your police check.
- If you are waiting for any documents and give an approximate date you will receive them. If you do not include a letter of explanation, you will need to remove it to enable you to submit.
Once you have uploaded all the documents, you are ready to submit, have your card details ready. Applications can take up to 8 weeks to be reviewed.
IRCC will send you a document request to upload any police checks/medicals you are waiting to come through.
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