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Need to know / Canada

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

The IEC pools for 2024 visas are open! Here's the ultimate guide.

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The IEC visa pools for 2024 Canada working holiday visa applications opened on 11 December 2023. Here's the need to know on who, what and why you need to apply early. Plus, some exciting news for UK passport holders - who can now apply until their 36th birthday and apply for a further 12-month IEC visa!

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 Canada working holiday visas released each year, usually in December or January. Which is why the application process works on a 'pool' system. Applicants must set up a profile and enter it into the IEC visa pool – which basically registers their interest in applying for a Canada working holiday visa. Over the following months, names are regularly drawn at intervals until all the visa places are filled. While in 2023 there were still some visa allocations available when the pools closed in October, in previous years, visas have sold out.

If your name is drawn from the pool, you’ll be sent an ‘Invitation to Apply’ (ITA) 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. While the random nature of name draws can be frustrating vs a first come first served system - maths and probability determines that the earlier your name is in there, the more chance you have of being picked for an ITA.

How long does the visa process take and what does it cost?

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 $272. 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.

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), which means you must apply before your 36th birthday. The visa allows you to stay and work for 24 months, or 23 months for New Zealand passport holders.

New rules for UK passport holders

New for 2024 - the age for UK passport holders has increased from 18-30 to 18-35. As long as you receive your Invitation to Apply before your 36th birthday, you are eligible to apply for the visa. Plus, the IEC are now allowing repeat participation for an additional 12 months! If you're a UK passport holder and have previously held an IEC visa since 2015, you are now able to enter the pools for a second time to apply for a further 12 month visa.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hannah Jeffery

JENZA Staff | London, UK

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

"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, seasonal work in Canada - especially winter and ski jobs - are super competitive. So 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.

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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 | London, UK

Our Global Brand Manager has worked in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Her best job was working on a Great Barrier Reef dive boat, and her worst was de-leafing tomatoes. She 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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