So you want to spend a year on a working holiday in Canada…eh!? You have finally decided to check out “that country above the USA” and see what it has to offer! You will discover poutine (not Vladimir), hockey, polite people everywhere and lots of fun – generally outdoors. Brilliant! Get on your bike, let your moose loose and drink in the rich culture and great people that Canada has to offer.
There are a number of different visas that you can enter Canada on. However, for the purposes of this site we will focus mainly on the Working Holiday Visa.
Canadian Working Holiday Visa:
The Canadian Working Holiday Visa programme is managed by a section of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) called International Experience Canada (IEC). Each year they agree a quota of visas with each country that holds a working holiday agreement with Canada. The visa itself permits you to work, live and travel in Canada for 12 months (more for certain countries).
If you want to get your hands on one of these you will have to be between the ages of 18 and 35. You should preferably have no criminal record and present a police record to attest this fact. A quick online interview will also determine whether you are a weirdo or not. Owning a valid passport for the period of your stay will also stand to you and you should have enough money to support yourself on arrival in Canada while you are looking for a job. Begging on the corner of Bloor and Spadina for 12 months is not permitted on this visa. Of course, as mentioned above, your country must also have a working holiday agreement with Canada. See a list of countries with Canadian working holiday agreements.
Applying for your Working Holiday Visa:
You have two options to choose from when applying for your visa.
1. Apply direct with IEC
If you go with this option, make sure that you read all of the information, instructions and FAQs thoroughly on the IEC website relevant to your country. If you follow the step by step instructions, you should have no problems.
You can then find your own flights and travel insurance. For any further information you need on accommodation, banking, phones etc. you have this website and plenty of alternative resources at your fingertips. IEC publish a great guide for participants coming to Canada on their website – IEC Guide for Participants.
Finally, for the all important jobs in Canada, browse the jobs sections on our site and register for our WHC Jobs Kit where you will get access to our list of Canada’s top 100 working holiday maker employers, our jobs fair calendar and our working holiday job search tool. You will also get access to useful resume templates so you can update that CV/Resume of yours and arrive fully prepared to find that dream job.
2. Apply with an agent
If you are too busy packing up your snowboard and saying goodbye to family and friends at home and feel you dont have the time to sort our your visa, insurance, flights, bank account and everything else, there are a number of companies in Canada who can do all of this for you. These companies offer additional support with your visa application and services, such as jobs and accommodation advice, orientation sessions on arrival and some even include your first nights accommodation in a hostel which is a great way to meet other people on the working holiday visa.
Of course, there is a higher cost involved with this option but it does take care of certain issues that you may not have time to consider. The top Canadian agents that we are aware of are:
- Go International – Tamwood
- Global Lifesyles Canada
- The Global Work & Travel Co.
- The Working Holiday Club
Some of these Canadian companies also have partners/agents in your home country that you can contact for similar services.
There have been changes to the international student program in Canada, as of June 2014. Full details of these changes are available here . If you are planning to study and work in Canada you will need to be aware of these new rules for visa applicants.