Working Holiday - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Working Holiday?

The Working Holiday is a category under the International Experience Canada (IEC) program.

IEC (International Experience Canada) is a program that offers young people the opportunity to work temporarily in Canada for up to 2 years. Nationals of 36 countries with a bilateral youth mobility agreement with Canada who are between 18 and 30 or 35 years old are eligible for an IEC work permit.

The IEC program consists of  three categories:

Working Holiday:
Participants in this program receive an “open work permit”.

In this category:

  • you don’t need an employer
  • you can choose in which places in Canada you want to work
  • can work for more than one employer in Canada

Young Professionals
Participants in this program receive a “closed work permit” or officially called “employer-specific work permit”.

In this category:

  • you need an employer
  • you can only work for one employer
  • the job offered must be a skilled job in TEER category 0, 1, 2, 3 
  • an unskilled job in TEER 4 is allowed if you have studied in the field and can provide a degree in that job. 
  • the job must contribute to your professional development

International Co-op (Internship)
Participants in this program receive a “closed work permit” or officially called an “employer-specific work permit”.

In this category:

  • you  need an employer
  • you can only work for one employer
  • you must be an enrolled student in a post-secondary educational institution (university, university of applied sciences) for the duration of the internship
  • the internship must be part of the academic curriculum

As the name suggests, with an “employer-specific work permit” you can only work for one employer. The name of the employer is entered in the work permit. In certain exceptional cases, you can change employers. 

This info blog will focus on the Working Holiday category.

The age requirement and length of work permit are set in each country's agreement

To find out the length of your country of citizenship

Which countries are participating in the International Experience Program?

Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Kingdom

When is the best time to apply for a Working Holiday in Canada?

If you intend to travel to Canada within the next 12 months, you can apply any time while the pools are open. 

Do I need a job offer for the Working Holiday?

No. You don’t need a job offer because the Working Holiday is an open work permit. 

Can I study in Canada on a Working Holiday?

Yes. If the course is max. 6 months. The course also cannot be part of a program lasting longer than six months, for example as a two-year program or four-year degree. If the course or program is longer than 6 months, you need a study permit.

Can I have a study permit and a Working Holiday at the same time?

Yes. You can have two valid permits at the same time. 

Can I be self-employed on a Working Holiday?

Yes. The Working Holiday work permit is an ‘open work permit’ and you can work for whoever you want. Even for yourself. In an extra info post > here < you can find a few more thoughts about the difference of being ‘self-employed or not’. 

Can we apply for a Working Holiday together as a partner?

No, everyone has to apply for their own WHV. Note that not both will receive an invitation at the same time and one will have to wait for the other. It can even happen that only one of the partners is invited. Then you can still both go to Canada, take a look > here < for info on the partner work permit.

Can I take my children to Canada with the Working Holiday?

Yes. But they cannot accompany you under your WHV. They will be granted entry as tourists usually for the duration of your work permit. If they are only admitted as visitors for the max. of 6 months, you can extend the visitor status by applying online for the visitor record. More info about the visitor record > here <. 

I cannot travel to Canada before the expiry of the POE, can I go for a few days to activate and return home?

Yes. Many participants actually do it. This way they don’t miss out on the experience entirely, but just a few months.

Even if you enter for only a short time, you must have a health insurance for the entire stay.

For example if your country allows 2 years work permit, and you would like to receive a 2 year work permit you need a health insurance for 2 years.

Can I extend my Working Holiday work permit?

You can only extend your work permit or make changes in very specific situations.

An IEC work permit is not extendable beyond the maximum allowed time under the bilateral agreement.

For example participants from Australia get a 2 year work permit. This cannot be extended past the 2 years. There are however instances, where the work permit can be extended to the max. allowed time.

Can I stay in Canada as a tourist after my work permit expires?

Yes, you have to apply for a visitor record before the current status expires. You can use the same GCKey account that you used for the Working Holiday. More info about the visitor record > here <. 

Can I do a working holiday twice if I have a second citizenship?

Definitely. If the country of the second citizenship takes part in the Working Holiday program. 

You have to apply into the pool of the second nationality. Once you have received an invitation, you must be aware of three important things:

  • When asked if you have ever participated in the International Experience Program, answer “No”
  • When asked if you already had a visa/work permit, answer with “Yes”
  • Upload a “letter of explanation” and mention that you have already participated once under xxx citizenship and now want to participate with xxx citizenship.

I received the POE but when I travel to Canada I will be over the age requirement.

No worries, to meet the age requirement, you must receive an invite before turning 31 (or 36 depending on the citizenship). After that, your age doesn’t matter anymore.

When I apply for another IEC category, can I keep working if my current work permit expires?

No. There is no ‘maintained’ status between IEC participations. You will have to apply for the visitor record, and stop working as soon as your work permit expires. You can only start working again after you activated the new IEC work permit. 

Can I apply for permanent residency while on my Working Holiday?

Definitely, yes. Many participants use the IEC program to gain permanent residency. It is a good stepping stone on the PR pathway.