Looking for incredible work and holiday Canada experience? Look no further!
Through the International Experience Canada program, you can spend up to 2 years working and traveling in Canada. This program offers a unique opportunity to gain work experience and explore all that Canada has to offer with its breathtaking rivers, lakes, and outdoors.
In this blog post, we will discuss how to apply for a working holiday visa through the IEC program. If that sounds exciting to you then, keep reading because we will tell you exactly how we were able to do this.
Why ‘Work and Holiday Canada’?
It’s spring and you’re strolling the streets of Vancouver or Montreal filled with cherry blossoms. Spring is maple syrup season so you decide to visit one of the local farms and savor some of the delicious pancakes.
You spend your summer paddling turquoise lakes.
Your autumn is filled with red maple leaves and the smell of pumpkin spice flavors.
In winter you go skiing in the mountains covered with powdery snow. To unwind after skiing you take a dip in natural hot springs or a jacuzzi in one of the many recreational centers across the country.
You spend your white Christmas sipping hot chocolate and wearing warm fuzzy socks.
You may be thinking that all sounds great but how do I get the visa, find accommodation and a job?
So let’s dive into all the nitty-gritty stuff, shall we?
How to Get a Working Holiday Visa Canada?
Canada offers a visa program called ‘Working Holiday’. It’s a great option to receive a temporary working visa that is available to people under 35 from over 30 countries.
The working visa is usually valid for one year and in some cases up to 2 years depending on your country of citizenship.
A big plus of this specific program is that it comes with an open work permit. In other words, the work permit is not tied to any specific employer and you’re able to change employers and locations as you please.
This working holiday visa program is only available to citizens from the following countries:
|Country||Age||Max Work Permit Validity|
|Andorra||18-30||Up to 12 Months|
|Australia||18-35||Up to 24 Months|
|Austria||18-35||Up to 12 Months|
|Belgium||18-30||Up to 12 Months|
|Chile||18-35||Up to 12 Months|
|Costa Rica||18-35||Up to 12 Months|
|Croatia||18-35||Up to 12 Months|
|Czech Republic||18-35||Up to 12 Months|
|Denmark||18-35||Up to 12 Months|
|Estonia||18-35||Up to 12 Months|
|France||18-35||Up to 24 Months|
|Germany||18-35||Up to 12 Months|
|Greece||18-35||Up to 12 Months|
|Hong Kong||18-30||Up to 12 Months|
|Ireland||18-35||Up to 24 Months|
|Italy||18-35||Up to 12 Months|
|Japan||18-30||Up to 12 Months|
|Latvia||18-35||Up to 12 Months|
|Lithuania||18-35||Up to 12 Months|
|Luxembourg||18-30||Up to 12 Months|
|Netherlands||18-30||Up to 12 Months|
|New Zealand||18-35||Up to 23 Months|
|Norway||18-35||Up to 12 Months|
|Poland||18-35||Up to 12 Months|
|Portugal||18-35||Up to 24 Months|
|San Marino||18-35||Up to 12 Months|
|Slovakia||18-35||Up to 12 Months|
|Slovenia||18-35||Up to 12 Months|
|South Korea||18-30||Up to 12 Months|
|Spain||18-35||Up to 12 Months|
|Sweden||18-30||Up to 12 Months|
|Taiwan||18-35||Up to 12 Months|
|UK||18-30||Up to 24 Months|
If you want to find out more about eligibility criteria, you can check this official Canadian government website.
Candidates for this type of temporary work permit are selected randomly in regular draws called rounds of invitations.
Every year the Canadian government allocates a quota for how many candidates they will accept for working holiday visas from each eligible country.
Here’s a step by step process on how to apply:
- Find out if you’re eligible to apply
- Create a profile. To learn more how to do this, click here.
- If you’re selected, you will receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA).
- At this point, you have 10 days to decide whether you’ll accept the invitation.
- Submit all the required documents and pay 100$ application fee + 85$ biometric fee. The required documents include police clearances, an ID/passport photo, a copy of your passport, your resume, a family information form, and in some cases results from a basic medical check-up.
- After your documents have been reviewed and accepted, visit one of the nearest biometric collection points to provide your fingerprints and photo.
- Wait to receive your ‘Port of Entry Letter’. It’s a letter that you will need in order to obtain your temporary work permit once you arrive in Canada. From this point, you have one year to activate your Port of Entry letter. This type of visa is only once in a lifetime opportunity so be sure to take advantage of it.
- Besides the Port of Entry letter, you’ll need to prepare proof of health insurance for the duration of your stay and proof of funds (the equivalent of CAN$2,500)
How to Find Accommodation?
Once you’ve decided on a province and location to start your work and holiday Canada adventure, the next step would be to find your ideal rental.
Airbnb accommodation can offer interim flexibility whilst you search for long term accommodation. If you spend a bit of time searching through Airbnb you can often grab fantastic deals. If you’re someone who likes to cook your own food then Airbnb is preferable over hotels as a lot of rentals include a kitchen.
Having a short-term rental sorted will help you ‘buy time’ in order to find a long-term accommodation that suits you. You can find plenty of short and long rental options on Facebook Marketplace or on Kijiji. Kijiji is a Canadian advertisement site dedicated to housing, jobs, or items for sale.
What About a Job?
In order to work legally in Canada, you require a social insurance number (SIN). You can apply for your SIN number online, by mail, or in person in one of the Service Canada centers.
We opted for a seasonal job when we first arrived in Canada. We decided to go the seasonal route as we didn’t want to be tied to only one place, and wanted to work and then time off to travel and explore.
Our first seasonal job was spent planting trees in the Canadian wilderness and living in a remote camp together with other tree planters. It was definitely a unique experience.
With the money that we earned from tree planting, we bought an old school van and travelled down the West Coast of North America, all the way to California and back again.
There are plenty of seasonal job options available which range from fruit picking in Summer to helping in ski resorts in Winter.
Most Canadian employers list available jobs on these websites: Jobbank, Indeed,
Glassdoor or Kijiji.
There are also Job Resource Centers that list available work at their branches in your local area and provide free services to help assist with your resume and interview preparation.
What Is the Cost of Living in Canada?
The cost of living varies depending on which province or city you stay in. The most expensive cities in Canada are Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.
We spent the majority of our time in Alberta and I would say that even on minimum wage, you can live comfortably.
Compared to our home countries (Slovakia and South Africa), we found the cost of internet, dental care, car insurance, and housing to be a lot higher than what we were typically used to.
However, our salaries compensated for this difference in living expenses.
Our monthly expenses in Canada were around $2500 per month. Bear in mind that we were living next to Banff National Park which is a very desirable and popular tourist destination for locals and travellers alike. Rental expenses here are some of the highest in Alberta but it was worth it because of the natural beauty and great outdoors on offer.
Must-See Places in Canada?
Canada is a vast country that has a lot to offer so even one year might not be enough to explore all the major tourist attractions.
Okanagan valley is the most popular wine region in Canada. This valley is filled with vineyards, lakes, and orchards. Most of the local food produce in Canada comes from this region. There are plenty of farm-to-table restaurants and delicious goodies which you can pick at local farmers’ markets.
The Canadian Rockies
When somebody mentions Canada, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the picturesque turquoise blue lakes. A must-see in the Canadian Rockies is Banff and Jasper National Park. Banff is home to some of the most iconic lakes in Canada such as Lake Moraine and Lake Louis. It’s quite common to spot wildlife roaming around the Canadian Rockies. There are plenty of breathtaking mountain sceneries, hot springs, and waterfalls on offer.
If you’re on the Canadian east coast, don’t miss a chance to see Niagara falls. It’s possibly one of the most famous waterfalls in the world. You can also explore the Niagara waterfalls from above with a helicopter tour.
Vancouver in British Columbia is one of the most popular cities to live in Canada, and rightly so. The climate is milder here compared to the rest of the country. Vancouver has a vibrant food and cultural scene. What makes this place very attractive is the close proximity to the ocean and Whistler mountain ski resort. If you ever get a chance to visit this place, consider exploring the best of Vancouver on a local bike tour.
Victoria and Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island is famous especially for whale watching and surfing. It has a lush tropical vibe. In order to get there, you need to take a ferry from Vancouver. While Montreal and Quebec City have significant French cultural influence, Victoria pays tribute to the country’s British heritage.
Montreal and Quebec City
If you love historic sites, good food, and a charming ‘European’ atmosphere, then you will definitely enjoy Quebec City. One of the most memorable activities in Quebec City is wandering around Rue de Petit Champlain. Montreal is a vibrant city. Some of the highlights are Old Montreal and the city view overlooking the St. Lawrence river.
Prince Edward Island
Another gem on the Canadian east coast is Prince Edward Island. I recommend renting a car and enjoying a scenic coastal ride. On that note, one of the best deals that you can find when it comes to renting a car is with Turo.
Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island is located on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia. Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island is considered one of the most scenic routes in the world. If you love seafood, you’re going to love this place.
Whitehorse is all the way up in the northern Yukon. The winters in the Yukon are extremely cold but what makes this place magical is the frequent occurrence of the Northern lights. The best time to see the Northern lights is during the first few weeks of winter.
The process of getting a working holiday visa in Canada can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. If you follow our tips, you’ll be on your way to an unforgettable work and holiday Canada adventure in no time at all!