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Need to know / Canada

Everything you need to know about the IEC Canada working holiday visa

We came, we read, we spent two years living and working in Canada.

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The IEC visa pool for Canada working holiday visas opened on 9 January 2023. Which means if you’re reading this after 10 January, you need to get your ice skates on and apply for your working holiday visa.

While the rewards are two years of bonkers scenery, world class skiing or riding, and insanely cool cities with limitless music, food and Caesar options (Canada’s national cocktail, weirdly but happily flavoured with clam juice) – Canada’s working holiday visa isn’t the simplest to get your head around. There’s a pool involved for a start. Here’s the need to know.

What’s the IEC?

International Experience Canada (the IEC) is the immigration and citizenship department of the Canadian government responsible for issuing IEC visas – or Canada working holiday visas.

What’s the visa pool and how do I apply for a visa?

There are a limited number of working holiday visas released each year, usually in December or January. For 2023, they were released on 9 January 2023. Applicants must set up a profile and enter it into the IEC visa ‘pool’ – which basically registers their interest in applying for a working holiday visa. Over the following months, names are regularly drawn at random until all the visa places are filled.

If your name is drawn, you’ll be sent an ‘Invitation to Apply’ which is the application form for your visa. The IEC visa pool usually stays open until Sep/Oct, but we recommend applying as early as possible to ensure your profile is exposed to the maximum number of name draws.

How long does the visa process take?

If you are sent an ‘Invitation to Apply’, you have 10 days to start your application. And once started, 20 days to submit it and pay your visa fee. This is paid directly to the IEC and currently costs CAD $256. You must also be able to prove you have CSD $2,500 in support funds, this is usually via a bank statement. Finally, you must attend a biometrics appointment at a designated biometrics centre to have your photo and fingerprints taken.

If everything goes to plan, you should then receive your ‘Port of Entry’ letter. From this point, you have 12 months to enter Canada.

The whole process can take 2-3 months in total. If you’ve lived outside your home country for a prolonged period, you may also be required to have a police background check – which could add extra time.

Our team have done this process hundreds of times, so will guide you through it step by step.

Who can apply and how long can I go for?

Australian, New Zealand, UK, Ireland, German and around 30 other passport holders can apply for a working holiday visa. Check out the full list here.

Most nationalities must be 18-35 (inclusive), with UK passport holders 18-30. The visa allows you to stay and work for 24 months, or 23 months for New Zealand passport holders.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hannah Jeffery

Jenza Staff

in, London

Hannah has worked in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Her best job was working on a dive boat and her worst was de-leafing tomatoes. She’s now lives in London where she tirelessly lobbies for a tomato free office and continues to not give a f* about Oxford commas.

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"Canada’s working holiday visa isn’t the simplest to get your head around. There’s a pool involved for a start. Here’s the need to know."

What jobs can I do in Canada?

The IEC visa is an open work permit, which means you can work for pretty much any employer in any role anywhere in Canada for the full duration of your visa. As in, you don’t need to switch employers every six months like on some working holiday visas. The IEC visa allows you to do casual or career work.

You don’t need to have a job lined up before you enter Canada. However, for peace of mind that you’ll be earning as soon as you land, JENZA can help you land a job before you go with one of our vetted working holiday employers. These include summer resort and ski season jobs as well as year-round jobs: working in hospitality, tourism, retail, construction and more.

Most summer and ski season contracts are for 4-6 months, working in epic locations such as Banff and Whistler, in roles including lift attendants, baristas, chefs, servers, instructors, housekeepers, rental technicians, front of house, drivers and more.

How much can I earn working in Canada?

The minimum wage differs per state or province, with Alberta, Ontario and British Colombia all around the CAD $15 mark, plus tips where applicable. Most of our pre-arranged ski and summer season employers pay between $15-21 an hour, with many including subsidised staff accommodation (around $400-600 per month), meals on shift, and great perks such as discounted lift passes, gear hire, and ski or snowboard lessons. After your season, you’ll have access to our JENZA Job Hub for the whole of your visa to find another working holiday job.

For jobs relating to your profession or trade, the earning potential will be higher with salaries that are equivalent or higher than in your home country.

What else do I need to know?

Travel insurance When entering Canada, you may be asked to show your travel insurance policy at immigration. Your policy MUST cover your intended stay. For example, if you take out a six-month insurance policy to get into the country, you run the risk of immigration stamping you in for only six months – even though your visa was valid for 23 or 24 months. This means that you’d lose out on 18 months of your visa!

Working holiday essentials To legally work in Canada, you’ll need to have a Canadian bank account and SIN (Social Insurance Number). Along with a SIM card, both are set up when you arrive with JENZA Work Canada.

Ski season job applications We work with some of the top ski resorts in Canada. The season starts in Nov/Dec, with job openings posted up onto our JENZA Job Hub from April/May. Here you can search, apply and video interview for jobs. We’d suggest applying early to secure your first choice of job or employer.

To get the snowball rolling on your Canada working holiday, check out our JENZA Work Canada page.

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Hannah_Profile_JENZA.png

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hannah Jeffery

Jenza Staff

in, London

Hannah has worked in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Her best job was working on a dive boat and her worst was de-leafing tomatoes. She’s now lives in London where she tirelessly lobbies for a tomato free office and continues to not give a f* about Oxford commas.

Follow on Insta

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