Working Holiday Visa Canada IEC 2021: Ultimate Application Guide

Looking to apply for a working holiday visa for Canada? Perhaps you want to work a ski season or live in Vancouver for a year? The International Experience Canada program is what you need. It is the easiest way for young people to live and work in Canada temporarily.

This guide is intended to help applicants prepare and apply for the IEC, specifically the working holiday stream. It explains everything you need to know about acquiring a working holiday visa for Canada.

If you want to read just one article about the IEC application process and be confident about applying yourself, this is it! I have been writing application guides for the IEC for over 8 years.

There’s a lot of misinformation about the IEC on the internet but you can be assured that this application guide is the most up to date and comprehensive around. 

This article is regularly updated to reflect changes in the IEC application process. Last updated 12th January 2021.

Gemma hiking up a hill with lake and mountain views behind
A taste of what you could get up to on your working holiday in Canada

An important update – read this first

The most recent IEC application season was put on pause in March 2020 and then officially closed in November. Here’s the lowdown on the current status:

What does this mean for anyone who still wants to take part in the IEC?

  • The pools for the latest application season closed in November 2020, although no invitations had been sent since March. It is no longer possible to submit a profile into the pools
  • We do not know when the pools (or the IEC application system in general) may open again
  • When the pools do reopen again, previously unsuccessful applicants will need to enter a new profile to be in with a chance of receiving an invitation to the program

What does this mean for anyone who still has an application in progress?

  • Applicants who did not receive an invite by March 2020 were unsuccessful and therefore need to wait for the new application season to reapply (see info above)
  • Applicants who received and accepted an invite prior to the program closure will have their applications processed (though much slower than usual)
  • In November 2020, applicants were emailed and given the option to continue having their application processed or to withdraw and receive a refund

What does this mean for anyone who had an approved application (POE)?

I will continue to update this section of the guide when possible, but the most up-to-date information is also available on the IRCC website

Looking down into a valley on a plateau, with multiple calm lakes surrounded forest and snow capped mountains (Lake O'Hara, British Columbia)
Lake O’Hara, British Columbia

What is the IEC program?

International Experience Canada (IEC) is Canada’s youth mobility scheme. Within it, there are three programs – Working Holiday, Young Professionals and International Co-Op. 

Participating IEC countries have at least one of these programs available, with some countries having more than one.

The most popular IEC stream is the working holiday program. The length of the included work permit varies from country to country. Check out the chart below for more info.

Australia: 24 months
18 – 30
Austria: 12 months
18 – 30
Belgium: 12 months
18 – 30
Chile: 12 months
18 – 30
Costa Rica: 12 months
18 – 35
Croatia: 12 months
18 – 35
Czech Republic: 12 months
18 – 35
Denmark: 12 months
18 – 35
Estonia: 12 months
18 – 35
France: 24 months
18 – 35
Germany: 12 months
18 – 35
Greece: 12 months
18 – 35
Hong Kong: 12 months
18 – 30
Ireland: 24 months
18 – 35
Italy: 12 months*
18 – 35
Japan: 12 months
18 – 30
Latvia: 12 months
18 – 35
Lithuania: 12 months
18 – 35
Luxembourg: 12 months
18 – 30
Netherlands: 12 months
18 – 30
New Zealand: 23 months
18 – 35
Norway: 12 months
18 – 35
Poland: 12 months
18 – 35
Portugal: 24 months
18 – 35
San Marino: 12 months
18 to 35
Slovakia: 12 months
18 to 35
Slovenia: 12 months
18 to 35
South Korea: 12 months
18 to 30
Spain: 12 months
18 to 35
Sweden: 12 months
18 to 30
Switzerland: 18 months
18 to 35
Taiwan: 12 months
18 to 35
United Kingdom: 24 months
18 to 30

There are also reciprocal IEC arrangements with Mexico and Ukraine but these programs are currently closed
*New for 2021

Participation in Canada’s working holiday visa program is usually a one-time deal unless you have dual citizenship. So the moral of this story is: use it or lose it!

Each participating IEC country has an annual quota of places based on reciprocal agreements with Canada.

Demand outstrips the quota in certain countries for the working holiday programs. France, South Korea and the UK are just some examples where demand is high.

For more advice, check out the Ultimate Guide to a Working Holiday in Canada eBook, Working Holiday in Canada intro page and my 20,000+ member IEC Facebook group.

How much does a working holiday visa for Canada cost?

The following are the total costs for a working holiday visa for Canada (in Canadian dollars).

Please note that none of these fees need to be paid until you have received and accepted an invite to the working holiday program. 

  • Participation fee – $156
  • Open Work Permit Holder fee – $100
  • Biometrics fee – $85
  • Police certificate(s) – country dependent
  • Medical, if applicable* -country dependent, $300-500 average
  • Travel insurance policy for length of intended stay in Canada**
  • Flights/travel expenses to Canada
  • $2,500 proof of funds to show on arrival in Canada 
  • Return flight or proof of additional funds to purchase a return flight (credit card is acceptable)

*For those intending to work closely with children or in healthcare AND/OR applicants who have visited certain countries for 6 months or more

**Typical 2 year IEC policy without ski coverage is around £500-600 for British citizens, $2000 for Australians

This post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase via one of these links, I may receive a small percentage at no extra cost to you.

Quick Overview of the IEC Canada application process

The IEC application process was completely re-worked in November 2015. Prior to this, the process was first come, first serve.

The application process for applying for a working holiday visa for Canada is now as follows:

  1. IEC working holiday applicants must first complete the ‘Come to Canada’ questionnaire to check their eligibility for the IEC program.
  2. Eligible candidates then create a profile (with identity details, citizenship, current residence etc) which is put in a pool for the category they wish to participate.
  3. CIC will regularly invite candidates from each pool to participate in the program throughout the next year unless the quota runs out sooner. It is a random selection. An invite may take a week, a month, six months to arrive, or in the case of countries with more demand than places (such as the UK) not at all.
  4. Once an invite is received, the applicant has to decide whether to accept or decline within 10 days.
  5. After the invite has been accepted, applicants will then need to apply for a work permit submitting completed forms, documents (such as police certificates) and payment within 20 days.
  6. Up to 8 weeks after submitting the work permit application, a decision will be made.

The IEC working holiday program runs in year-long ‘seasons’, generally running from autumn to autumn. If you’d like to be alerted of updates, sign up for my IEC newsletter (includes a free packing list on sign up!) or join the O Canada IEC Facebook Group

IEC Application Process Overview graphic
IEC Working Holiday Visa Application overview

How to apply for a Working Holiday Visa for Canada

Read on for a step by step guide to the IEC working holiday application process.

Step One: Check eligibility for the IEC program

The first step to apply for your IEC working holiday in Canada is to check eligibility using the ‘Come to Canada’ tool. Note that the first question is ‘What would you like to do in Canada.’ To participate in the IEC program, the answer would be ‘IEC – Travel and Work.’

Entering the rest of your personal information is straightforward from here.

If eligible, you should see a confirmation of eligibility for the IEC working holiday program and then a reference code (e.g. JM1234567890). There will also be a link lower on the page to MyCIC, the next step of the process.

Step Two: Create profile to submit into IEC Canada pool

To create and submit an IEC profile for a working holiday visa in Canada, you will first need a MyCIC account.

If you already have MyCIC account from a previous application, you can use it for this IEC application too. If you do not have a MyCiC account, you will need to use the ‘Continue to GCKey’ link to open one.

  1. Once signed up/logged in, select ‘International Experience Canada’ under the ‘what would you like to do today’ title.
  2. On the next screen, you will need to enter that personal reference code you got at the end of the Come to Canada questionnaire. Entering the correct code will take you to the e-service application.
  3. On the e-service application, there are four categories of information to validate and submit. Some information that you supplied in the Come to Canada questionnaire has already been entered automatically for you. Only basic contact and personal details are required for this section, along with information from your passport.
  4. Each section must be validated and then saved.
  5. Once each section is complete, you can submit your profile into the pool.

The profile must be submitted within 60 days of starting it. Once entered, the profile will remain in the pool for a year. Submitting your profile is free and you do not have to accept a place and continue on in the process if invited.

Helpful tip – Even if you have a job lined up for your working holiday (not required), DO NOT indicate that you have. This complicates things later as extra documentation from your employer will be requested unnecessarily

Step Three: Wait for an invite

All eligible applicants in each IEC pool have an equal chance of being picked randomly.

This does, however, mean that if you are applying for a program that has high demand, there is sadly no guarantee you will receive an invite to the Canada working holiday program.

While waiting, consider what police certificate(s) you may need to apply for and whether you need to perform a medical exam.

Police certificate(s)

These are required from any country or territory that you have spent six months or more since the age of 18.

This six month period is not cumulative (doesn’t accumulate), so even if you live in another country (other than your home country) for four months every year, you still wouldn’t need a police certificate for that country unless asked.


An exam is required if you have lived/travelled in certain countries for 6+ months OR if you plan to work closely with children/health-related services in Canada.

The exam must be performed by an approved Panel Physician. If you do not complete a medical before arriving for Canada working holiday, your IEC work permit will state that you are unable to work in these sectors.

Step Four: Receiving an invite for the IEC Program

If you are randomly selected, an invite to apply for a work permit will be sent to your MyCIC inbox. Applicants have 10 days to decide whether to accept or decline the invite.

  • Clicking ‘Start Application’ accepts the invite, waiving whatever is left of the 10 day period. As soon as the application is ‘started,’ the next stage begins.
  • If you have multiple/complex police certificates to apply for and/or a medical (or just need more time in general) consider holding off clicking the ‘Start application’ button for 7-8 days. Whatever you do, do not wait until the 9th or 10th day! Technical issues sometimes cause the CIC website to fail.

Step Five: Apply for IEC work permit

After accepting your IEC invite, you will 20 days to complete a work permit application via MyCIC.

  1. First, you must submit more information regarding your work/education history, citizenship info, communication details (email address, phone numbers etc).
  2. A fair amount of this info is pre-loaded from stage one (profile) and is not possible to change.
  3. Your answers to the work permit application questions will determine a list of required documents that also need to be uploaded. MyCIC will guide you through the process to download/complete/upload the forms and complete payment.

For most people the required list of documents will include:

  • Family Information Form IMM5707
  • CV/Resume
  • Digital Photo
  • Police Certificate (multiple) – don’t worry if you only have one!
  • Passport/Travel document (scan of photo page plus all stamps)
  • Participation fee of $156 plus $100 for an Open Work Permit Holder fee if taking part in the working holiday program

Major update to the Canada working holiday application process: IEC applicants now have to visit a Visa Application Centre (VAC) and submit biometrics (fingerprints and photo) after submitting their work permit application. More details below.

There is an optional ‘Letter of Explanation’ slot which is useful if you need to provide any extra information about your application. If you are having trouble submitting your application without a Letter of Explanation, upload a document in this section and then delete it. You should now be able to submit your work permit application.

Important! If you do not have the required documents within the time you need to submit them (police checks, medical proof if applicable) you should upload a ‘Letter of Explanation’ (self-created) to explain why. You will then be given a time extension for this section of the application.

  • Provide as much proof as you can regarding the missing documentation (receipts, medical or biometrics appointment email, a copy of request sent to police)
  • If you do not upload any receipts/appointment proof/Letter of Explanation and the 20 days runs out, your application will be cancelled and you will have to wait for an invite again.

Stage Six: Submitting biometrics

Since 2019, IEC applicants have been required to submit biometrics – fingerprints and a photo to complete their working holiday visa application.

These biometrics can only be submitted at Visa Application Centres (VAC), Application Support Centres (ASCs, USA only) and some Service Canada locations (in Canada only).

After submitting your work permit application, you’ll be sent a request to submit biometrics, usually within 24 hours. You must submit your biometrics within 30 days.

Here is what you need to know about IEC biometrics:

  • Biometrics can be given at any VAC in the world – applicants do not have to go to the one in their home country
  • As of Dec 3rd 2019, IEC applicants can now give biometrics at selected Service Canada locations in Canada. 
  • It is only possible to submit biometrics with a request letter. This is sent to the applicant after submitting the work permit application (stage five in this guide)
  • Submitting biometrics costs $85. Applicants also have to make their own way at their own expense to the nearest VAC, ASC or designated Service Canada location. 
  • IEC applicants from Europe and Asia have been required to submit biometrics since 31st July 2018. From 31st  Dec 2018, IEC applicants from Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas also had to do so. 

Stage Seven: Receiving your POE (final approval)

Once your biometrics have been submitted, you should receive an assessment within 56 days (8 weeks). If not, follow your application up with the IRCC web form.

If successful with your IEC working holiday application, you will find a ‘Correspondence Letter’ in your MyCIC inbox. This is your Port of Entry Letter of Introduction (referred to as a POE or LOI). Here is a POE letter example for the Canada working holiday program.

Congratulations! Be sure to print and save your IEC POE Letter, so you have both electronic and paper copies.

Arriving in Canada for your working holiday

With your POE approved, you can now move to Canada anytime within the next calendar year. I would not recommend waiting until just before expiry to activate in case of flight or other travel delays.

On arrival at the Canadian border (land or airport), you will need:

  • Passport
  • Valid POE letter
  • Proof of $2500 in funds – bank statement or online banking print-out, dated within last 7 days
  • Proof of a return flight OR additional funds that would be used for a return flight (credit card is acceptable)
  • Proof of insurance for the full length of your intended working holiday in Canada

January 2021 update – there are new additional, hopefully temporary, requirements for POE holders travelling to Canada (job offer, negative test, quarantine plan)

I also recommend bringing printed copies of the following documents, to avoid any potential expiry date mistakes on the work permit:

When issued your work permit, triple check all details before leaving immigration.

If there are any issues, it is much more difficult to fix after leaving the airport or border. In particular, be sure to check the expiry date and work location (it should read ‘open’).

Long stay travel insurance policies can be hard to find. Check True Traveller (EU citizens and Brits), Fast Cover (Australians) and World Nomads (over 100+ nationalities). Click to read more about working holiday visa Canada insurance options

Calgary skyline
Calgary is one of the most popular destinations for those applying for a working holiday visa in Canada

Working Holiday Application Advice and Tips

After six years of helping others with the working holiday visa application process, I’ve picked up a few bits of crucial advice that may be helpful along the way.

  • Be sure to fill in all form fields when completing the IEC application. If a question does not relate to you, enter ‘n/a’ or ‘not applicable.’ This is especially relevant with regards to the intended work/employment questions. Canada’s working holiday program offers an open work permit, so do not enter any job details in these fields, even if you do happen to have something arranged.
  • Some countries have a residency requirement e.g. Sweden, the Netherlands. If you are from one of these countries it is mandatory to list a permanent mailing address in your home country to be eligible for the IEC. If you don’t, you will be automatically refused.
  • Always answer as truthfully and completely as you can. If there is not enough space in a field to you to fully answer the question, upload an additional Word document with more information under the ‘Letter of Explanation’ section.
  • Don’t leave time gaps in the resume. The resume is NOT designed to be used in Canada to look for work, it is a document required by IRCC to understand your movements (employment, education, travel) prior to the application. The immigration team are not evaluating work/education skills, but are looking for gaps in the resume that may suggest travelling/working in other countries (and hence a police certificate may be required). If you leave gaps, it is very possible IRCC may request more information and this will delay your application.
  • If you have more than one document for a category (i.e. two police certificates) combine documents into a multi-page PDF using an online converter.
  • The question ‘What is your current country/territory of residence?‘ refers to where you physically are at the time of application. If this has changed since you completed your IEC profile, add a Letter of Explanation in your application and explain where you currently are.
  • Keep in mind that CIC may contact you and request more documentation, depending on your circumstances. This does not necessarily mean you will not get your IEC work permit, but it will prolong the process.
  • Police certificates are required from each country or territory where you have lived for six months or more. The certificate(s) must be no more than 12 months old unless they are from a country you no longer live in and not returned to. If not in English or French, the certificate must be translated.
  • It is generally easier to complete a medical before entering Canada to activate your IEC. It is possible to do a medical in Canada after you have arrived but you will have to go to a border to have your work permit details changed after the medical has been processed. This loses you time on your work permit and may cost extra money.
  • Before submitting your IEC work permit application, make sure you have uploaded each document in the right category.
  • Don’t leave it until the last minute to submit. Although you have 20 days to submit the documents, do not wait to submit until the 20th day. Anything can happen – computer failure, server issues…both at your end and with CIC. Don’t risk it! If you don’t have a document (e.g. police certificate) by the time you need to upload it, submit the details in a ‘Letter of Explanation’ in this slot instead.
  • Once you have your POE, print it at least once and then save it onto your computer and keep a backup via the cloud/email/USB storage. Don’t let your only copy of your all-important POE be an online version. You never know when websites are going to be down for maintenance or have other technical issues!

IEC Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a burning question about applying for Canada’s working holiday program, you’ll probably find the answer below.

Is there anything I can do to prepare my application before the pools open?

It is best to just wait until the pools are open (but read my answer to ‘when should I apply for a police certificate’ below first). Once the pools do open, it is not necessary to rush. Since the IEC no longer runs on a first come, first serve system, there is no benefit to submitting an application on the day the pools open. Invites do not usually start for another two weeks afterwards. Take your time and make sure all details are correct before submitting your IEC profile.

My passport runs out within the next year. Will this be a problem when applying for the IEC working holiday program?

For the working holiday visa program in Canada, your passport must be valid at the time of application. Once you have your POE, I would recommend getting a new passport before you go to Canada. Click here to find out what to do in that scenario

I turn 31/36 soon, how does this affect my IEC application?

To be eligible, you must submit your profile to the pool(s) before turning 31 (36 for some countries) AND get picked from the pool before turning 31/36. It doesn’t matter how old you are when entering Canada for the actual working holiday.

I am a British citizen and do not seem to be eligible to take part in the working holiday program?

The most common issue to come up for British applicants is having trouble passing the initial ‘Come to Canada’ questionnaire. Make sure that you have selected ‘British Citizen’ for country/territory of passport.

When should I apply for a police certificate?

It is my opinion that it is not worth applying for police certificates in advance unless:

a) you are from (or have lived in) a country which has low demand or unlimited places (e.g. Australia)


b) the police certificate has a complex application process. Check the latter first here

Can I apply for the IEC program from within Canada?

Yes, you can apply for the IEC from within Canada. The application is entirely online. Do be aware however, of two important issues:

Some countries require you to list a permanent mailing address from the country of your citizenship. If you do not, your application will automatically be refused. This affects citizens of Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Japan, Czech Republic, Latvia, South Korea, Sweden, Hong Kong, Denmark, Slovakia and Norway.

Secondly, I would not recommend going to Canada to wait out the rest of the application after submitting a profile to the pool unless you are from a country with an unlimited quota. Visiting Canada for a holiday is fine, but waiting for months without being able to work is not ideal.

What is an eTA, do I need one?

Canada has an Electronic Travel Authorization program. This means that every visitor arriving by air needs approval before boarding their flight to Canada. All IEC approvals issued after August 1, 2015, come with an ETA automatically (check page 2 of your POE letter). Applicants do not need to apply for one separately unless they change their passport after application.

I am a dual citizen – am I eligible to participate in the IEC more than once?

Yes! As per this CIC FAQ, dual citizens (or triple citizens for that matter) can take part in the IEC as many times as each citizenship will allow.

Once you receive a second invite for your second citizenship, you’ll need to answer YES to “Have you ever applied for or obtained a visa, an eTA or a permit to visit, live, work or study in Canada?“ then NO “Have you ever participated in International Experience Canada before?”

Finally, you’ll also need to upload a Letter of Explanation to mention your dual citizenship status and prior participation on the other passport. If you have previously provided biometrics for your first application, you do not need to provide them again (they are linked to a person rather than a passport).

Is there a template for the resume/CV?

There is no longer an example provided but here is an older IEC resume sample. The most important thing to remember about the IEC working holiday application resume is that it is not the same as a work resume. It is a factual timeline of your work, travel and educational history.

I have been asked for a Court Record/police report, why is this?

If you’ve been asked for this document, you answered ‘yes’ to the “Have you ever committed, been arrested for, been charged with…..” question. You will need to get details of your arrest/offence and submit this.

If you’re from the UK, you can apply for a Subject Access Report. I would also suggest attaching a Letter of Explanation with more details of your offence and how you have been rehabilitated since then.

I have just received an email which says something has changed in my IEC application, but there is no update. What is going on?

These are referred to as ‘ghost emails’ by those in the IEC community – think of them as a false alarm. Most Canada working holiday applicants get a couple during their application, but it is perfectly normal to not receive any either. What you need to be looking for is an email about a new message on your account.

I am currently in Canada or have lived in Canada before – do I need a Canadian police certificate for my IEC working Holiday Application?

Not unless specifically asked by CIC.

I have previously lived in Canada. CIC have now requested a RCMP Criminal Record Check. How do I get this?

A minority of applicants may be asked for an RCMP Criminal Record Check due to previous residency in Canada. Do not apply for this unless you have been specifically requested for one. The request may come even if you have already received your LoI/POE.

If you are in Canada, this is reasonably straightforward to get. Visit your local RCMP station for more info. If you are outside Canada it is much more difficult and involves sending either a postal application (which takes a LONG time) or submitting an electronic application through a third party company.

My friend Joe from morehawes has been through this himself (in fact, this advice is all his) and initially had his prints done at a local police station in the UK. They were rejected. He ended up going to New Scotland Yard in London and paying a high fee to get them done, but these were actually accepted.

The staff at NSY are practised at doing fingerprints the old way (ink), while at smaller police stations it is a rare thing to do.

You can usually request an extension if you are having trouble getting the Police Check done by a certain timeframe.

I’ve lived in Queensland or Victoria (Australia) for over 6 months. CIC says I need a traffic report or driving history?

Even if you did not drive in these Australian states or hold an Australian license while living there, you still need a traffic report/driving history to complete the police certificate requirements.

Contact the transportation authority in Queensland and/or Victoria and explain your situation. Both authorities accept email enquiries.

If you did not have a license while visiting or living there, explain that you need a letter stating you did not hold a license. Provide all relevant details (visit dates, addresses etc). You should receive an official letter back which you can upload to MyCIC.

I said I already had a job in Canada in the first stage. now it says I must provide information including an employer number for this job. How do I do this?

As per this CIC FAQ, fill out the fields with obviously fake numbers e.g. 99999999 and/or write “Not Applicable – Working Holiday” where possible. The IEC working holiday program offers an open work permit so employer details are not required. Even if you do have a job lined up, it’s best to just receive the standard open work permit so you’re not tied to that specific employer.

I have been refused because I did not include an address in the country of my citizenship in my application. What’s the deal with this?

The eligibility criteria for some countries require applicants to have a permanent mailing address in the country of their citizenship. Be sure to check the requirements for your own country. I’ve seen people try and appeal this before with no luck. If you are refused, you’ll just have to apply again with the correct info next time.

Should I use BUNAC/SWAP/other working holiday company to help with my application?

If you are a citizen of an IEC participating country and it is your first application, I would highly recommend applying independently of any company.

While it may be your first time travelling or living abroad, there is a lot of information already available about working holidays online plus a range of different forum websites (including Facebook) on which you can gather advice on the application and arrival process.

Another thing to keep in mind is that when you apply to the IEC yourself, your first priority is your own application. Allowing a business to apply on your behalf gives the control away to someone else and you will NOT be their first priority. My advice would be to keep your own IEC destiny in your own hands!

My advice would not be the same, however, for those applying through a Recognized Organization (RO) for necessity. This could be because your country does not have an IEC program. More recently, ROs have also been given separate allocations of IEC that they can offer to second time applicants or even to people beyond the regular age limits. This information is changing so often that it is best to check the files in my Facebook group for updates.

I did not submit my IEC work permit application within the required 20 days. What happens now?

I’m afraid you have missed your opportunity to get your POE and will receive a refund for fees paid. You will need to apply again for the IEC and hopefully receive another invite.

Help! My Letter of Introduction (POE) is blank?!

You are probably opening the PDF on a mobile device – try opening the document on a computer. Or better still, save the file onto your desktop and then open it.

Is my POE the work permit?

No, you’ll receive the actual work permit in Canada. For more info on the arrival process, check out this post (it’s refers to Vancouver but the process is roughly the same at any Canadian border or international airport)

I’ve received my POE but no longer can/want to go to Canada at this time. Can I apply again sometime?

Unfortunately, receiving a POE counts as participation whether you go to Canada or not. If your country only allows for one IEC participation, I’ve afraid you’ve used it and will not be able to apply again.

Can I go to Canada for a holiday without activating my IEC work permit?

Yes. POEs are not automatically activated so it is no issue to visit Canada without accidentally starting your working holiday. The eTA issued with your POE (page 2) will be valid to use to fly to Canada so be sure to have a printed copy of this to show at check in.

Can I use an online bank statement as proof of funds?

Yes, as long as it has your name on it. This is what I used.

What kind of travel insurance do I need to buy for my working holiday in Canada?

Travel insurance for a working holiday in Canada must cover repatriation, medical expenses and be the length of your intended work permit. Otherwise, you risk having a shortened permit with no option of extension.
Two-year travel insurance policies are not common. Check True Traveller (EU citizens), Fast Cover (Australians), Down Under (Kiwis) and World Nomads (over 100+ nationalities).

How long will my IEC working holiday work permit be valid for?

It depends on your citizenship. I listed all of the working holiday lengths at the beginning of this post but you can also see them here.

The other considerations are passport validity and work insurance policy length. Be sure that your travel insurance policy matches the length of your allowed stay in Canada. If your passport expires during your working holiday, don’t panic, there is a process to extend your IEC work permit once the new passport arrives.

Can I study while in Canada on the IEC?

Yes, as long as the course is completed within six months.

Is it possible to extend my IEC working holiday visa?

Only in very specific situations. These specific situations include correcting expiry date mistakes made by border officers. It is NOT possible to extend an IEC work permit outside of these specific scenarios. If you want to stay longer in Canada, consider either applying for Permanent Residency or a sponsored work permit.

Communication – Who can I contact?

As a government organisation, IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, previously called CIC) is notoriously hard to get in touch with.

There is a Canadian call centre but to be honest, like many call centres, they simply repeat information from the website. They cannot really offer much in the way of advice and updates on your individual application.

If you’re looking for advice on applying for the program the best resource is the IRCC website and the Applying for a Work Permit Outside of Canada guide (step five).

Other than that, Facebook groups are a great resource for advice from others who are currently applying or have done before.

If you are refused or need to add anything to your application after step five, use this IRCC webform

Final notes and disclaimer

For more advice and tips about the IEC working holiday program, check out my ‘Ultimate Guide to a Working Holiday in Canada’ eBook. It contains everything you need to know about going on a working holiday to Canada!

The Ultimate Guide to a Working Holiday in Canada ebook

Any questions? Leave a comment or check out my O Canada IEC Discussion & Support Facebook group!

About me: I have been helping people with the IEC process since 2012. I originally moved to Canada on the IEC program in 2011, became a Permanent Resident in 2014 and finally a Canadian citizen in 2018.

Please note: I do not work (or have not ever worked) for IRCC/CIC. I am not an immigration lawyer or consultant. The information here has been gathered from personal experience/online research of the IEC working holiday program as well as second-hand information from previous applicants. If you follow the advice above and in the comments below, you are doing so on the understanding that it is peer-to-peer advice. I cannot be held liable for you, an applicant, experiencing any problems (including a refusal) with your IEC application. 

Secondly, be aware that I refer to ‘working holiday visas’ in this article but what IEC actually offers is an open work permit. Most participating countries are part of the visa waiver program and hence citizens from these countries do not need a visa to enter Canada. 

Looking to apply for a working holiday visa for Canada? The International Experience Canada program is what you need. This up-to-date guide features everything you need to know about applying for a Canada working holiday! offtracktravel.ca

Check out these Canada working holiday guides next:

A Working Holiday in Canada: Everything You Need To Know

Insurance Options for Working Holidays in Canada

How to Work a Ski Season in Canada

The Cheapest Way to Transfer Money to Canada for your Working Holiday

Toronto vs. Vancouver for your Canadian working holiday

Calgary vs. Toronto for your Canadian working holiday

278 thoughts on “Working Holiday Visa Canada IEC 2021: Ultimate Application Guide”

  1. Hi Gemma,

    Thanks for the guide! I have a question. My boyfriend and I want to apply, but he is British and I’m Dutch, so we’ll be in different pools. But say when he doesn’t get an invite and I did and accepted it, can I still cancel and apply again the year after, or would I then have used up my chance?


    • Hi Nicky! No, as soon as you receive a POE (final acceptance letter), you are considered to have participated and wouldn’t be able to apply again unless you have dual citizenship. When you do receive a POE however, you have a whole year to actually go to Canada and activate it. So plenty of time for your boyfriend to potentially receive an invite too 🙂

      • Hi gemma
        I partner she is new zealand citizen applying for work and holiday visa for canada and i m indian citizen can i join with her on same visa if yes pls advice me how can thanks you so much for your quality time

        • Hi Gurpreet,

          If she is your common law partner (you’ve been living together as married for a year or more) or spouse, then you would be able to apply for an open work permit if she gets a skilled job in Canada (categories 0, A or B). You would have to enter Canada on your own merits (visitor visa) and then apply for the OWP at the border with payslip evidence and (I think) a letter from her employer. http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/answer.asp?qnum=199&top=17

          • Hi Gemma,
            I have a stressful situation whereby I actually had an IEC POE letter, soon after receiving last year my mum was diagnosed with cancer and passed away within 5 months. Obviously this meant that my partner and I changed our plans to come to Canada. He did not have a POE letter. Subsequently we have decided to give it another go and my partner got his POE letter. Unfortunately mine has expired as we had waited longer than the year expiry date (with other things on my mind I had got confused and thought the expiry date was 2023 stupidly). We are now considering the common-in-law route as we have been in a relationship for 8 years and lived together for 3 years, also owning a property together. We are due to leave in July so I am going to submit my application this week. Do you think this is a viable option for us? He is counted as a skilled worker and I would be too I think if that counts.
            Any advice is very appreciated!!

          • Hi Shan,

            I’m so sorry to hear about why you were unable to activate your POE. I don’t think you’re stupid at all with mistaking the expiry date for 2023, it’s not clear if unfamiliar with what these dates mean.

            I’m not sure I completely understand which application you are looking to submit. Unless you have dual citizenship, the most straightforward move to do is go to Canada with your partner as a visitor and then after he has worked a skilled job (NOC 0, A or B) for while, you can apply for a common law work permit on the back of that. You cannot apply for this before going to Canada as you have to wait until your partner has received a minimum of 3 payslips. After that, you need to take these with a letter from his employer and proof of your common law status and then go to the border for flagpole for the open work permit.

  2. Hi Gemma,
    I am applying for the Irish pool of Young Professionals. I am currently in Canada on Working Holiday, so I am wondering will I need all police checks again for this application? I obviously already provided them when applying for WH and I’ve only been in Canada since then. Really appreciate your time to reply, thank you;)

    • Hi Warren,

      You will need to provide the police checks for this application too. However, as long as you haven’t been BACK to Ireland (or the origin country of any other police cert you applied for) since you received your police checks, you won’t need to apply for brand new certificates.

  3. Hi Gemma,
    How many days exactly do they consider as six months, 180? I spent 183 days (185 if you count the day of departure too) in New Zealand the past years, which is approximately 6 months. Would you recommend getting a police check for New Zealand if I get an invite to apply?

      • Thanks! Do you know what would happen if I accept the invitation to apply, but in the end decide not to finish the application (so drop out of it)? Would I be able to get back into the pool or would I never be able again to apply for the WHV? I cannot find information about this on the official website, only about declining an invitation.

        • If you do not finish the application (and hence do not receive your POE), you can apply again. If you receive your POE however (final acceptance), this is considered participation even if you do not go to Canada. In this case, you wouldn’t be able to apply again unless you have another citizenship.

          • Thank you again! I hope I will receive the NZ criminal record check soon, it’s been over 5 weeks since I sent in the form…

            Do you know if I have to legalize (or get an apostille) for my police checks before I send them in during my application? I know that you need to send in certified translations if the language is not English or French, but I cannot find any information on the Immigration Canada website about legalization of these documents.

          • Forget my question – thanks to the comments below I just discovered that you don’t need a police certificate anymore if you stayed in a countries for shorter than a consecutive period of 6 months. And my two stays in NZ are a cumulative 6 months. What a relief!

  4. Hi Gemma,
    Thanks for the info, it was really helpful. Do you know how likely you are to receive a POE once you accept an invitation? I am waiting on a family member in Canada to see if they could provide accommodation for me next year but if they can’t, I don’t want to use up my POE (and may apply in the future instead). I luckily received an ITA but as long as my criminal records are clean and my documents are valid does that normally grant a POE? Would really likely to know ASAP before the 10 day limit runs out!

    Many thanks

  5. Hi Gemma!

    Your website is a GOLDMINE! Thank you! Still have a couple of question though… I’m in Canada on a Work and Holiday (I’m from Sweden if that matters), and plan to apply for a Yong Professional-visa when my WH expires. I arrived in August 2017, so my WH visa expires in August 2018. WHEN should I start the application process for YP? Can I start it now, or is that just unnecessary?

    I have a full time job in Canada already, but I have read somewhere that in the application for Young Professional, you should say NO when asked if you have a job offer or not. Is this correct? Seems a bit weird to me.

    Hope you can answer my questions. 🙂

    Thanks a million!!

    • Glad you found the site Stella! I would organise your YP work permit whenever you like. For Sweden, there doesn’t seem to be requirement to leave a gap between IECs so there’s no issue with a ‘waiting period’ or anything like that.

      For Young Professionals you MUST ‘a signed letter of offer or a signed contract of employment (up to 12 months)’ before even submitting a profile to the pool. For the Working Holiday program I recommend people to say ‘no’ to the employment question since CIC will then ask for employment details in the second stage and then the final work permit may be limited to one employer. For YP, you must supply this info since it is a closed work permit, limited to just one employer.

      I hope this helps!

  6. Hi Gemma,

    This is a really helpful site – thanks so much!

    I have my POE letter and it states a date (in April) I need to enter Canada by to obtain my work permit.

    I have a few long term work commitments and would really like to see them through to the end, so ideally I would like to leave my employment in the UK later in the year – I’m thinking August or September. By this point my POE letter will have expired.

    I’m wondering if I can go to Canada to validate/obtain my work permit in April (say a weekend trip) but return to the UK for a 3-4 months, before coming back to Canada. I appreciate this will eat into my 2 year work visa term, but I’d rather have a reduced term visa than no visa at all.

    Do you know of anyone who has done this? Do you foresee any obstacles?

    Many thanks!

    • Hi Terence,

      Thank you! No, there are quite a few people who do this. The only real issue with doing this is that you must purchase a 24-month insurance policy before departing the UK (in order to receive the full 24 months work permit on arrival in Canada) that allows you to return to the UK and then go back to Canada later. The problem is, you see, that the vast majority of insurance policies will be completely invalidated if you go home to the UK for 3/4 months. In fact, I only know of one UK company that allows you to return home for so long – True Traveller.(affiliate link). Otherwise, you’d have to buy another policy on your eventual return to Canada (which inevitably costs more $$). More here https://offtracktravel.ca/iec-insurance-options-for-working-holidays-in-canada/

  7. Hi Emma,

    I may need a little guidance on staying in Quebec! It’s very hard to explain IEC, work permit, working holiday etc. to any employer here in Quebec. They expect me to already have my permanent residency or citizenship and do NOT understand what a work permit is and why I don’t have my PR. I’ve been here for 4 months, I speak fluent french and I have a Masters. I understand that Quebec is supposedly “different” than the other provinces, but in term of getting PR for Canada, I hear it’s easier to find work as a bilingual in Toronto/Ottawa. Also, since I’m from the USA, I don’t get the automatic 2 year work permit. I only get one year and have to renew for the 2nd year..should I go ahead and apply early before my first work permit expires this summer. Thanks.

    • Hi Ashley,

      I’m sorry to hear that you’re having what seems like a difficult experience in Quebec. I know a few people personally who have spent their working holidays in Quebec but haven’t heard of these issues before. Quebec is most certainly different (people on work permits are not eligible for provincial healthcare for one) yet I’m still surprised that you’re having trouble with people not understanding what a work permit is. Definitely a bit strange! I’m not 100% on how the IEC works with the USA (since you have to apply via a recognized organisation) but I would apply as soon as possible. If it’s just the same as the regular IEC program, then you have 12 months to enter and activate the permit anyway.

  8. Hi Gemma,

    I would like to ask regarding the IEC visa. I have applied for it and I am waiting for the POE letter. However, I am in the process to change my first name and that takes some time from the municipality. I want to ask if I have a POE letter with my old name (but same last name) and two passports (the old one and the new one) I will face any problem entering the country.

    Thank you very much.

  9. Hi there. Love your website, very helpful.

    Just a query about the eTA on the POE. I keep reading everywhere that an eTA will be on my passport automatically as I have received a POE. There is also an eTA number and expiry date on my POE.

    However when I put the details through the ‘Check your eTA status’ tool, it comes up with no matches.
    Do you know if that’s the case for all eTA’s obtained through a work permit or a mistake?

    My old eTA for when I visited a few years ago which should still be valid has also been cancelled, according to the ‘Check your eTA status’ tool.

    Many thanks.

    • I’m glad you’ve found the site helpful Owen! Yes, this is a common technical issue with IECs and eTas. As long as you don’t change your passport before going to Canada, your eTa that you received with your POE is valid. Be sure to take a copy of page 2 (in addition to page 1) of your POE with you to the airport when flying to Canada.

      • That’s great, many thanks.

        I didn’t want to apply for a separate eTA just in case it mattered that the new number wouldn’t match with the eTA on the POE.

        But if it’s just a technical issue then that’s great.

        And I’m assuming my old eTA has been cancelled as they issued a new one with the POE?

        Again many thanks, will be visiting your website several times again before I go!

  10. Hi Gemma,

    Could I send a request for invitation twice if I hadn’t declined the 1st invite and I let to expire my 20 days to upload all the documents ???

    I did not click on the yellow “Withdraw profile” button and I requested again for IEC on 3rd January 2018. I used my old profile an I have been accepted again to the International Experience Canada pool(s) of candidates on 04th January and received a new application number.

    How long after have you received the invite to apply and upload all the documents ??
    I have to with

    Where can I check how many places are available (openings) in the pool ?

  11. Hi there! You saved me with to the Police Certificate info. That tweet clarifies all!!!
    I’m applying to IEC-Working Holiday for the second time and I already submitted my documents.
    I was recently very nervous about the “accumulative time” spent on a country because within the past years I spent a lot of time traveling in Thailand as a tourist and I was worried that I may be needed to submit a Thai Police Certificate (which seems a long and complicated process on its own) but now I feel super relieved. I wish the distinction for IE regard to Police Checks were also specified on their website, tho.

    Thank you so much, guys! Love you!!

    Happy travels 🙂

  12. Hi Marcela,
    which twit are you speaking she saved you ??
    I am traveling in Us too more than 6 months but I don’t know if I have to update Police Certificate from Us even If I am resident in Italy

    • Hi Jack,

      Marcela is referring to the recent update from the IEC team (via their Twitter) that they no longer require police certificates for people who have spent 6 or more months in a country cumulatively i.e. added up over different trips. You are only required to get police certificate if you have spent 6 or more months in a country in one go. So, if you travelled in the USA for 6 months or more (e.g. May 2017 to November 2017) then you would need a FBI police cert. If you travelled June 2016 – September 2016 and then February 2017 to May 2017 (for example), then you would not need one.

  13. Hi Gemma,

    My name is Kieran, I am a British citizen (currently 17 years of age). I’ll be 18 in April which is when I will apply for the IEC. My partner lives in Vancouver. When I eventually arrive I’ll be living with her and her parents for the duration of my stay. I was wondering what my options are to stay in Canada as I am determined to not go back to the UK. If it helps to know, I will be going into the beauty industry. I would very much appreciate your opinions on what the best option for me to stay is. Thank you so much.

    • Hi Kieran,

      If you manage to get an invite for the IEC, I would look into Permanent Residency if you decide to stay in Canada. Should you want to stay, you could apply for the common law route after living with your partner for a year (or spousal if you get married) OR apply via Express Entry for Permanent Residency under the skilled route. For the latter, there are quite a few routes to do it but you’d have to work out whether your job in Canada is considered ‘skilled’ or not – the easiest way to do this is to check CIC’s NOC system. Skill types 0, A and B are considered skilled and if you work in one of those titles for a year, you may be eligible for PR. Check the NOC here https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/express-entry/become-candidate/eligibility/find-national-occupation-code.html and the Express Entry calculator is here https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/express-entry/works.html

      I’d keep in mind that Permanent Residency is quite a commitment considering it will cost you around $2k and around a year to process (more or less, it depends on the route). The common law/spousal route shouldn’t be underestimated either, as it involves your Canadian sponsor being financially responsible for you for a number of years after you receive PR. The only way to stay in Canada besides PR is to get job sponsorship but this is difficult and involves a $1000 for the employer and they have to prove that no Canadian is able and willing to do the job.

  14. I am resident in Italy but I am traveling since November 2016, 3 months in USA (November 2016-Feb 2017), 5 months in Mexico (Feb 2017-June 2017), 3 months in USA (June 2017- September 2017), 2 months in Italy (September 2017-November 2017) and I am living again in Usa since November 2017.

    Mailing address\” is where I am currently living and \”Residential address\” is where is my place of residence ??

    In the line \”Residential address\” I have to fill out my home address in Italy or my american address where I am currently living since November 2017 ?

    • Hi Jack,

      Mailing address has to be Italy since you are applying for the Italian program and Italians must have a permanent mailing address in Italy.

      The residential address is where you are currently physically living so this would be the US address.

  15. Hi Gemma,

    I’m about to book my flight to Canada.

    My POE letter states I must enter by 2018/04/27.

    I was planning to fly (and arrive) on 2018/04/25.

    Do you think it it OK to arrive so close to the cut off date?

    Many thanks,


    • Hi Terence,

      I’ve heard of people activating a couple of days before their POE expires so I doubt you’d have issues. The one thing I would never recommend is to activate it on the DAY it expires. But you’re not going to do that, so all good 🙂

  16. Hey there Gemma 🙂

    I have Australian and British Passport.

    I have already been on IEC on my Australian passport. Am I able to apply for a new IEC permit on my British passport?

    Thank you 🙂

      • Hi Gemma,

        Follow up on that question, if someone has done two 2-year IEC working holiday visas (one on UK and one on Irish passport), can they then also apply for a 1-year Young Professional visa? I’ve read that this can be done if you’ve done one 2-year IEC WHV, but not sure if this is still the case if you’ve done two. This would bring the total time spent in Canada under the IEC program to 5 years, but 3 years under one passport and 2 years under the other. Thanks!

        • Hi L,

          For most countries, the IEC eligibility criteria states that participants can do the Working Holiday OR Young Professionals programs (if both options are available). So if someone recently did the working holiday program, then, no, they couldn’t do the Young Professionals as well.

          But you mention in your message specifically about someone previously taking part in one year working holiday programs. If this was due to participation in an old program (pre-2013 for Ireland, pre-2015 for the UK), they are allowed to apply for the working holiday program again anyway as per the current eligibility criteria.

  17. Hi, guys! I’m in need of some advice. As a second-year applicant, I’ve been asked to fill the form imm5257b_1 in order to detail my whereabouts since the year 2000 (yes, 17 years and I was still in high school) and the past years I’ve traveled a lot.
    The form contains a table element in which you can add rows to add more data but in my case, I reached the maximum possible for the document and I still have some places to add. Since it’s a secured pdf I cannot add more pages because when completed I need to validate it in order to get a barcode on the last page and there’s no extra field to upload an explanatory letter for this document so I don’t know what to do.
    I’ve searched around and I haven’t found any answer to this and I also ask on Tweeter to IEC but no reply yet. I have 7 days to send this doc.
    I guess I have 2 options:
    1. Just skip some places in order to fit all the info without showing gaps (it can’t show gaps).
    2. I don’t know how relevant is to get the barcode, because the easiest thing will be just printed out, fill it by hand and then send the scanned version of the document in order to be able to add an extra page.

    I don’t wanna complicate it too much but I also don’t want my application to be rejected just because I had all the info but just not enough space to place it ¬¬

    Have you known of any similar situation? I’ll appreciate your feedback on this.


    • You will need to provide ALL relevant info with absolutely no gaps. The reason you have been asked to complete this form is because your submitted resume had gaps. This has been happening a lot this year. You could either do option 2 OR combine this pdf with a separate word doc of your own explaining the rest of the info.

  18. Hi there, would like to know if you can help me out. I have applied for a working/holiday visa about two weeks ago and still haven\’t got an answer yet. I am interested to know if coming over to Canada and receive the visa in the country itself is possible?

  19. Hi Gemma,
    Your site great. I was wondering if you would be able to help me. I have an Irish working visa which is expiring in June. Unfortunately unforseen circumstances stopped me from coming out to Canada to use the visa. I did activate visa. When I activated the visa, the officer said the Irish can apply for 3rd year. My question is do you the number I could ring iec? Would I be able to apply again due not being able to use visa and how could get third year?

    Many thanks

    • Hi Jo,

      Sorry to hear you couldn’t make the most of your IEC experience. As soon as you receive a POE for one of the IEC programs (working holiday, young professionals etc) this is considered participation. So it doesn’t even matter whether you actually activate it or not. As an Irish citizen, you can participate in IEC once more through the International Co-Op program but you have to be a student to be able to do so. Otherwise I am afraid you are out of luck unless you have another citizenship. More info on the International Co-Op program here http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/work/iec/eligibility.asp?country=ie&cat=coop&#country_category_name

  20. Hi Gemma,

    This website has been such a help for me! Thank you. This spring I would love to work/travel in Canada. And it seems that the whole application process did work out. I got my corespondence letter! Not without your tips and advices 🙂

    But there is one big question on which I do not seem to get any answers. Not on the website and not through the question-webform of CIC immigration, refugees and citizenship.
    – I wrote a letter of explanation + receipts etc. for the police certificate, because I did not receive that in time to fulfill my application.
    – Got it now!
    – Then I got the request to upload the document, but they asked me to fill in things that did not apply to the Police Certificate Document like ‘expiry date’, ‘document name’ and ‘document number’. And I could not fill in N/A.
    – So I asked questions about this through a webform. No response yet…
    – Now one week later I did receive my ‘Correspondence letter’ already. Isn’t that weird?

    Do you have any idea how this is possible? Do you think I still need to upload the Police certificate? Or just bring it when I arrive in Canada?

    P.s. I have asked for an E-reader for my birthday so I can read your Ebook while traveling haha.


    • Hi Sara,

      It’s not uncommon for people to receive their POE (final acceptance, this is the Correspondence Letter you would have received) without submitting police certificates. It just happens sometimes, often because CIC know that certain police certificates take a long time to process. So congratulations! No, you won’t need to submit your police certificate if you have already received your POE. I would bring it with you when you go to Canada though as it is a useful thing to have. CIC also recommend bringing all application documents with you anyway when activating your work permit.

      Aww, thank you for mentioning reading the eBook! It is a PDF file so you can read it from any type of computer or portable device (tablet, mobile). 🙂

      • The reply button does not seem to work. So hereby thanks for your response! Makes things clear now and I can be extra happy everything worked out. I will take all documents that I provided when I go to Canada, just to be sure.

        Thanks again.

  21. Really nice recap of the whole process! Mine was a little different since I am an American, but still I highly recommend doing the program. Canada is amazing and currently based in Montreal 🙂

    • Good to hear things are going well for you in Montreal? Am I right in thinking the major difference is that as an American you have to apply through a RO? Besides that, almost the same?

      • Hi Gemma,

        Things are going great! Yes, you are correct you have to go through an RO, but otherwise the process is the exact same,. I used InterExchange and was very happy with the service. Do you have any advice on getting a second Working Holiday Visa?

        • Nice to hear! I believe for the second (as Americans are eligible for 2 x 1 year), you just go through the process again with an RO.

  22. Hello,

    IEC visa can be extended if got a closed work permit from any employer ? or I have to leave the country and re-enter it again after 23 months?

    • Hi there,

      The IEC cannot be extended. If you have an employer willing to sponsor you, you’ll need a LMIA which costs the employer $1000 and they have to advertise the job role and prove you are the best match. Otherwise, apply for Permanent Residency via Express Entry 🙂

  23. Hey Guys,

    I am currently applying for my IEC from NZ.

    I am in the process of applying for my visa (I have accepted the invitation)

    Only question I have is, I am backpacking from Peru up to California before I move to Canada. There is no set date as to when I will be flying from California to Canada as we have no time restriction.

    When I submit my proof of travel documents, would it be acceptable to put in my flight from here (AKL, NZ) to PERU and then write in the letter of explanation the plans? or will this not suffice.

    Also, will I be charged when I click the apply button or are you charged upon acception?

    Appreciate any advice!!


    • Hi Elliott,

      You will be charged the fees on submission of the work permit (after receiving an invite, before final approval).

      As for your other question, I’m not sure what you are referring to with the travel plans. You don’t have to submit proof of travel for the IEC, just scans of your passport. The one thing that you may have issues with (just in case you’re not aware of it) is that you plan to visit the US before activating your IEC in Canada. The Visa Waiver Program rules for visiting the US state that you must leave the North American continent after 90 days. Before activating the IEC, you are not a resident of Canada and so this rule still applies. I have heard of IEC applicants having to book a return flight back to their home country at the request of the US border guards before. See more info here https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/americas-united-states-of-america/united-states/travelling-from-usa-to-canada-on-an-iec-visa-and-esta-waiver

  24. Hi GEMMA,
    If I’m applying through a Recognized Organization (since my country, Argentina, doesn’t have an agreement with Canada), will I receive an invitation for sure? since I’m paying to this organization and Canada gives them every year a certain amount of vacancies. Or it will be also a matter of luck?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Mariela,

      If your country does not have a regular IEC program and you HAVE to go through a Recognized Organisation, I believe there are enough places for however many applicants the RO receives. This is just to the best of my knowledge though, I do not have much experience with ROs.

      Edit March 2018 – it has come to my attention that the RO’s have an overall quota that is not bound by nationality/citizenship. So in a way there is a limit but it is not based on YOUR citizenship, just their overall quota that they are given by the Canadian government

  25. Hi Gemma,

    Thanks for the guide! Just two questions
    -What do I have to include in my letter of explanation?
    -I lived in the US for more than 6 months and would need to submit a criminal record but they haven’t asked me for it, I mean is not in my supporting documents. Isn’t it weird?

    Thanks 🙂

    • You’re welcome!

      1) Nothing, if you do not have anything to explain. If it won’t let you submit without submitting a Letter of Explanation, just upload a document and then delete it and that should fix it.
      2) As soon as CIC see that you lived in the US for more than six months (they will know this from your resume), they are very likely to request a FBI check. It is not weird because they do not know the details of your background at this stage.

  26. Hi Gemma,

    Your website is a wealth of information!

    I’m hoping you can provide me some advice too. Both me and my wife are New Zealand citizens looking at applying for the working holiday visa. Only catch is that we have 2 kids (3yo & 2 mo).

    Couple of questions :
    1. Can I apply for a PR while on my working holiday visa? This is based on my work experience (IT) and also if I manage to find a job in my related field. How long does this usually take to process?

    2. Preschool/daycare costs? Do you know approximately how much this would cost?

    Thanks in advance! Any help with this would be appreciated.


    • Glad you’re finding useful content!

      1) Yes, you absolutely. I did and I know quite a few others that did via various different routes. PR processing times is hugely dependent on which route you apply through amongst lots of other factors. Have you read about Express Entry yet? http://www.cic.gc.ca/English/helpcentre/results-by-topic.asp?top=29
      2) Sorry, no, I don’t, I wouldn’t even like to take a guess. I presume it would also vary hugely between provinces so I’m not sure how helpful it would be even if I knew for one province! I would check the forums at canadavisa.com

  27. Hi Gemma,

    Do you need a police check from your country of citizenship? I’m Italian but have lived in a few countries for more than 6 months so have applied for those police checks.. but do I need one from Italy?


  28. Hi,
    Thanks for the guide! Just one question
    I’m doing my cv but I have a problem, I only worked in the shop’s family and sometimes I gave private lessons of desing and autocard so I dont know if I can include it or I can’t because I wasn’t registred.
    Thanks you

    • What is most important about the resume is that there are no gaps – CIC want to know where you were and whether you were working/studying etc. The detail of precisely what you were doing seems to be less important since the IEC is not based on your skills and education.

  29. Hey!
    Me and my fiancé both applied for working holiday visas in January, he got his invitation within about a month but I haven’t had one yet. I’m aware it’s a random process and this can happen but wondering if you know what the likelihood is of me getting one at all? Or if there are any other ways I can get out there with him! We were hoping to go out in October/November time!

    • Hi Lisa! You didn’t mention where you are from, but if the UK then it is complete luck whether you will get one. There is more demand than places available for British citizens. Having said that, for the last couple of years they have added more places in the summer (even with this, you still may not receive an invite). If you guys are common law (living together as married for at least a year) or married by the time you go to Canada, you could enter as a visitor and then later apply for an open work permit IF your partner gets a skilled job while in Canada. The job would have to be NOC 0, A or B (check the CIC website for the NOC list) and he’d have to receive at least three payslips before you can apply. http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/answer.asp?qnum=177&top=17

  30. Hey thanks so much for coming back to me! Yes sorry am from the UK! My other half will be my husband by the time we go and he is looking at doing a snowboard instructors apprenticeship (only about 3-4 weeks) then I believe being an instructor is an NOC B job. So he would need to do 3 months work before I could apply for open permit? How long does the open permit process generally take? Thanks Lisa

    • Hi Lisa,

      It’s not a process that is explained super well on the CIC process but the general recommendations I have heard is three payslips. Also advised to get a letter from their employer explaining their role and hours, plus proof of your relationship (tenancy agreement, shared bank account etc) and then take all of this to the border to get the open work permit issued on the spot (this is called flagpoling, I have a post on it). I’ve never done this myself so this is all based on other people’s experiences doing so. I believe there is a paper application as an alternative but takes longer to process.

  31. Hi Gemma! Thanks for all of the awesome help here. My boyfriend is in the IEC process and just got a deferral because he needed to do an FBI Check in the USA. He was granted an extension until June 23, 2018. We just received the letter back from the FBI with his results, so we could theoretically upload it now to continue the process. However, we are wondering if it’s also possible to wait and upload in early June and if doing so would give him more time to enter the country and extend eligibility. He doesn’t plan to start in Canada until the summer at the earliest.

    Also he has turned 31 already, although he entered the pool before his 31st birthday, but we’re wondering if there are any extra age considerations here.

    We also are curious if he can travel to Canada just for a visit after he gets the POE but before he wants to “start the clock” on his year here. Or does it automatically start the timer when he next enters Canada?



    • Hi Katie,

      Yes, you could wait a little longer to grant him extra time to activate. He would have 12 months from POE approval to enter Canada though which is already quite a long time. You can absolutely visit Canada without activating the IEC, it is NOT automatic since you have to physically visit immigration after customs to do so. I would recommend printing and taking a copy of this page which is proof of this policy http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/answer.asp?qnum=1249&top=25

      There are no age limitations beyond receiving an invite BEFORE turning the cut-off age. So since he has an invite, his age no longer matters.

  32. Hey Gemma
    Great website and easy to follow. My husband and I are just getting ourselves organised for applying for working holiday. I am from Ireland and he is from New Zealand, we are living in Ireland currently and will be applying from here that is okay for a New Zealand applicant is that correct?
    Also from your tip on the resume we will have a 6month gap on it from travelling different countries so is it advisable to include this in the letter of explanation?
    Thanks in advance
    Gem & Reuben

    • Hi Gem!

      Yep, absolutely fine for a New Zealand Citizen to apply from Ireland. You would definitely need to explain that six-month gap else you are very likely to receive a request to provide more information anyway. This will delay your application.

  33. Hi!

    Sorry if this has been answered in the comments, but I’m from England and have just had my invitation to apply. Do I need to obtain a police certificate straight away? Or is this only if I answered “yes” to the criminal record question (which I didn’t, my record is clean.) Trying to keep an eye on costs and it appears it’ll either be £45/£80 for a police certificate so I only want to do this if it’s completely necessary.

    Looking forward to your response, and loving your blog! I’m finding it very helpful!

    C x

    • Hi Christina,

      Glad you’ve found the blog helpful. Yes, you will need a police certificate for the UK if you have spent over 6 months there since the age of 18. You will need to submit this with the other documentation after accepting your invite. I’d go for the £45 one and if you need more time, just upload proof that you have applied.

  34. Hi there.

    I have received my POE, but during the application process I believe I answered ‘Yes’ incorrectly to the question ‘do you plan to to a work placement or internship in Canada as part of your studies’.

    Nothing more was asked about it during the application, and I definitely answered no to the questions regarding if I have an offer of employment and if I was enrolled in an university. Is this something they could bring up at the border? Or now that I have my Poe I shouldn’t worry about it?

    I might do an internship but it wouldn’t related to my studies as I am not studying.

    Many thanks for your help on this great website.

    • Congrats on receiving your POE! I honestly wouldn’t worry. If you did answer ‘yes’ to the work placement question, you would have later been asked for work details. Even if you did somehow ‘slip through the cracks,’ it is my understanding, the officers are the border have very little information about (or access to) your actual IEC application.

  35. Hello,
    My son has applied for IEC -RO. He received ITA and submitted his application for work permit. It has been 20 days now. He is planning to go in mid May. Do you think he will receive it in time? How long does it actually take? It says 8 weeks, is it always 8 weeks? And will he be getting stamp on his passport or he will get POE first and after landing at Canada he will get work permit? Is the IEC any different for IEC -RO ( Recognised organisation).
    Btw, we are from India. Just for information. If it changes anything.
    Thanks in advance and any guidance will be highly appreciated.

    • Hi Sapna,

      I’m not super familiar with the RO process but I believe it is the same after receiving the invite. 8 weeks is the length of time the majority of the applications are processed in. Some applications are approved after a couple of days, some five weeks. It really does vary so much. Having said that, my personal experience is that most IEC work permit applications are processed within about 3/4 weeks. Your son will receive a POE first and then a physical work permit in Canada, as long as he has all the necessary paperwork (insurance, proof of funds etc).

  36. Thank you very much for the reply. If we have any other questions, will get back to you once we receive POE.
    Thanks again!

  37. Hi ,
    It says he should have sufficient funds. Firstly , how much ? And second, should it be in his account or parent\\\’s account statement will suffice? He is 20 years old.

    • Hi Sapna,

      I think you’d find the ‘Stage six: Receiving your POE’ section of this guide helpful. Proof of funds should be in his own bank account.

      • Thanks.
        As I understand his work permit stamp will be done once he lands in Canada. As he has to go to Edmonton, and there is less direct flight from India. So if he first lands at Toronto, the work permit stamp process will be done at Toronto. His connecting flight will be in 2 hours. Do you know how much time it generally takes at the airport? What is your advice for keeping the gap for the next flight?
        We are still awaiting the POE.
        Thank a lot for all the important information here.

        • Hi Sapna

          Good question! The time to activate in Toronto can vary so much but I’d generally recommend to leave at least 2-2.5 hours if your next flight is part of the same booking as the first. The reason I say this is because the airline will rebook you on the next flight (for free) if you miss the connection. If the domestic flight is a separate booking, I’d leave a longer gap, maybe 4 hours, as you don’t have that backup. Toronto Pearson can be very busy at times.

  38. Hi Gemma, I’m Australian and I’m 30 years old and I turn 31 in July this year. I applied for the IEC visa as I really want to experience living in Canada and I was invited to apply from the pool of applicants. I’ve applied within the 20 day time frame and submitted all required documents and the only remaining document I need to provide (as I got an email from the immigration office) is the FBI check as I lived in the US for 12 months back in 2012. I lodged this about a week ago and put tracking on it. It has been received by the FBI but could take a couple of weeks to process. I can’t seem to find a straight answer on this but I read that I have met the age requirements for this IEC visa as I’ve applied and been invited to apply from the pool before 31. I am just wondering if it needs to be approved before I turn 31 or if what I read about – as long as I was invited to apply from the pool and lodged my app before 31, that it would be fine age eligibilty wise.

    • Hi Luke,

      To meet age requirements, you must receive an invite before turning 31 (36 for some countries). After that, your age doesn’t matter.

      • Thank you for getting back to me Gemma 🙂 loving your site by the way, I’ll definitely be keeping it book marked as you have so much good insight and information on here which will be handy when my IEC gets the all clear! Thanks again

  39. Hi Gemma,

    I got invited to apply for the IEC and I’m just filling out the form online. I happen to be in Canada at the moment (just as a tourist from the UK) so I have an eTA number, from when I flew in. On the online forms it asks if I have ever applied for an eTA – so I have put yes but when it asks for the eTA number it keeps rejecting it. It’s a 10 digit number beginning with J… I’m not sure what to do as I don’t want to leave any information out and ‘lie’ by saying I haven’t applied for an eTA but I’m not sure how to proceed if it won’t accept the number?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Charlotte,

      If it won’t accept it, I would leave it empty and then upload a short Letter of Explanation that you already have an eTA and what the number is.

  40. hello, i am trying to apply for an IEC visa to work in canada as a snowboard instructor. I have had a job offer for the upcoming winter season but I cant apply for a visa because of my age! I am 17 but turn 18 in september before the job starts!! ay help with getting a visa???

  41. Hi Gemma
    May I pick your brain please. My husband and I would like to apply for working holiday for Canada from France. I saw that spots available for France are currently listed as zero. Do you think there are any chanses of getting selected ? Or do we have to wait for next year – apply in November December when there will be new opening ?
    Thank you

    • Hi Ana

      I’m sorry, it’s not looking good for this season for you on the French program unless they add more places. They’ve done this for the UK program in June/July time the last few years, not sure about France. If not, you will need to wait until late autumn when the new season starts.

  42. Urgent

    I am from the UK and I have joined the IEC pool. What are my chances of being accepted as I have to go to a family wedding in canda in June. Could I go and stay there and wait it out for my acceptance?

    Also I read one of ur above questions. Did the application for ETA number because I completed missed that part. I just got back from Canada from a week stay and I had an ETA number then. Will this affect my application?

    • Hi Hanan,

      With the UK pool being so oversubscribed, you may find it tricky to simply ‘wait it out’ in Canada. CIC did just add more places but it doesn’t change the fact that you may not receive an invite in this season’s pool. As I mention in this guide, I don’t recommend anyone to do this unless you are a member of a pool with lots of places and low demand and/or you are Australian (unlimited places). If you choose to fly to Canada on a one-way ticket, you may find yourself having difficulties with both the airline and when entering Canada.

      eTA-wise, there is no issue if you already have one. If/when your IEC application is approved, a new eTA will be issued to you. This will overwrite your current eTA.

  43. Also I received an email today stating your application has been updated but when I went to check no changes?

    Is this a system error?

    • This is what is known as a ‘ghost email.’ It is common and doesn’t mean anything. Watch for an email about a message in your account, not an update.

  44. Hi,
    My son’s visa has been approved and they have asked for his passport which we have submitted.
    I was under the impression that he will get POE letter and the work permit thing will happen at Canada. Let’s see , once we get the passport back , we will come to know.
    I wanted to know about travel insurance. Is medical insurance and travel insurance same? Is it ok if we take issurance from ICICI LOMBARD Insurance? Is there an amount you can suggest for insurance for 3 months?
    Many thanks

  45. Hi,

    I just applied for IEC working holiday scheme. I am an Irish citizen and wondering how long it normally takes to receive an ITA. I am currently in Canada working under student permit after finishing few professional courses. I need to stop working as soon as my student permit expires and would like to get more information about the IEC working holiday visa, and how long it takes to go through the process.



    • Hi Joe,

      It’s hard to say but, being Irish, you should get an invite soon. I would say in the next month or two. It can then take up to 8 weeks for the application to be processed after you have submitted your docs, but in practice, it is more like 3-4 weeks as an average.

  46. Hi Gemma,

    thank you for all the information.

    One question I have is: Can I apply for a working holiday visa (while I’m in New Zealand), and while it’s pending, fly to Canada on holiday for up to 6 months? I have my eTA approved for this. Obviously I wouldn’t be working during my holiday there. I mainly want to know If I’m allowed to be in Canada on holiday whilst my working holiday visa application is pending? I understand that if it’s still in process then I’ll have to leave Canada before the 6 months is up.

    Thank you for your time.

  47. Hi Gemma,

    Thank you for providing all of this information. It is really useful. I was wondering if you could help me please? I have submitted my profile and received an invitation for my IEC (working holiday) and have accepted the invite. However I have just noticed that I accidentally put the wrong country of permanent residence as I got it mixed up with the country of residence (where I moved to 2 years ago). 🙁

    Do you know if I can change this somewhere? Will this be a reason to disregard my application? I am really worried and hope you have an idea.

    Thank you very much in advance and I wish you a lovely evening!

    Best regards,

    • Hi Rena,

      Depending on where you are from, it may make a difference – some countries (such as Sweden) have a permanent residence requirement. Either way, you should upload a Letter of Explanation with your accurate address. This way, you should be fine.

  48. Hi Gemma,

    I have been trawling for an answer to this question everywhere including contacting Canadian immigration, who haven’t really answered my question at all. Basically I travelled to Canada last October (UK participant) planning to work 1 winter season and then move on. Because I only planned to stay in the country on IEC for 7 months this was the amount of time I purchased my health insurance for, resulting in my visa being granted only for 7 months instead of the full 2 year entitlement. It says on the website that the IEC visa can be extended under certain circumstances but not if the reason was not having sufficient health insurance. I just wondered whether you can purchase extra cover to get the rest of the entitlement?

    Any information you have would be massively appreciated.


    • Hi Harry,

      I’m afraid the requirement is to have insurance to cover the full length of your intended stay on entry. If your work permit is shortened to the length of your insurance policy, there is no way to get an extension.

  49. Hello Gemma,
    I am in the process of applying for a work permit for Canada and your website is proving extremely helpful in the application process so thank you!

    I do have a question regarding police certificates however.
    I was under the impression that they were mandatory to submit but it was not listed as one of the supporting documents needed. Does this mean I need not apply for one or will there be a need for it later in the process or when I arrive in Canada?


    • Hi Sophie,

      You should have a police certificate slot on your required documents list when applying for a work permit (after receiving an invite). If not, this may be because you are from one of the participating countries which do you need to provide a certificate from their home country (France is one). Everyone else needs to upload at least one police cert. If you do not have the police certificate slot, I would upload it under ‘Letter of Explanation.’

  50. Hi Gemma,

    I have spent a total of 15 months (3 winter seasons) in Japan over the past few years. With none of those stays being 6 months or more at one time. Will I still need to provide a Police Certificate from Japan when I apply for my IEC?

    Thank you

    • Hi Timmy

      For the IEC specifically, they are only concerned about places you’ve spent 6 months or more consecutively. So if you didn’t stay in Japan for six months straight, it is not needed unless directly requested

  51. I am an Australian working in an American Summer Camp and have applied for an IEC. I have received been accepted to apply and have received a notice stating
    ” FBI Clearance: IEC program officials are satisfied that you have initiated the FBI Identity Summary Check process. Please submit your documentation once its available and complete.”
    Is this because I am currently in the United States and not Australia and does it mean I will have to get my fingerprints taken and send them off?
    Thank you

    • Hi Robyn

      How long have you been in the US? If less than six months you shouldn’t need a FBI cert. It seems like a weird message to me. You could upload a letter explaining how long you have been in the US (if less than six months).

  52. Hi there
    My name is Ricardo I’m from Brazil and I’m living and working in Canada under whv my visa expires in next January. In order to keep working without leaving the country I’d like to reapply for whv one more time. Do I need a new Loa from one of the ROs? Considering that I already have a job, a place to stay, speak English I don’t need any further help.
    Congrats to the website

  53. The UK pools are closed as of 2018, if I apply now for my Working holiday will I have to apply again in 2019 and pay another feww or do I just wait until the uk pools are open again ? Thank you

  54. Hi Gemma,

    I understand the pools have now closed until late November… I applied for the last set but didn’t receive an invite. To apply again would I have to withdraw my last application and make a new one when the pools open again?? I know my account and GCkey will still be valid but will i have to create a new IEC application??

    Thanks in advance,

    Becky 🙂

  55. Hi Gemma,

    Thanks for your fantastic website 🙂 I am a NZ citizen who is turning 36 in the middle of next year and I have a few questions:
    1. How long before my 36th birthday should I apply – I understand that there is a 8 week processing time but is that after you have received your letter of invitation? I would really like to apply as close to my birthday as possible..
    2. Also, it is ok if I enter Canada for a only a week or two to activate my visa (before by POE expires), then go back to NZ, travel around other countries for a few months, then go back to Canada and start working from then – noting that my 23 months will start from the date of my first trip to Canada?

    Your assistance is greatly appreciated!

    • Hi Catherine,

      Since you are from New Zealand and there is more places than demand, you do not need to rush to apply for the IEC. Having said that, I wouldn’t wait TOO long since you need to receive an invite BEFORE you turn 36. Sometimes things can take a little time, even for citizens of countries where you are basically guaranteed an invite. If you do not receive an invite before your 36th birthday, you will be removed from the pool and your chance is gone. At the latest, I would apply 2-3 months before your birthday, perhaps earlier. It would be terrible to miss this opportunity. CIC sometimes have technical issues that can stop the issue of invites. One year, the whole application process was closed for 6 weeks or so. Remember, once you have received your POE (final acceptance), you do have a year in which to travel to Canada to actually activate it, regardless of your age at the time.

      The 8 week processing time refers to the period after you have submitted all documents following an invite. Your age at this point wouldn’t matter. As mentioned above, you must receive an invite before your birthday to be eligible.

      It is perfectly fine to enter Canada to activate the POE shortly before expiry (I’d recommend at least a week before the POE expiry) and then leave to travel elsewhere. You must, however, have the $2500 proof of funds and 23 months of travel insurance to show on entry to get the full 23 month work permit.

  56. Hi Gemma,
    Your website is so helpful, thank you for taking the time to write everything down! I have a question regarding the applications for the 2019 season: the pools for my country (Italy) are now closed and the message on the website of the Government of Canada is unclear to me: it says that I have to “create a new profile when the pools open in November”. Can I create the profile now even though the pools have not opened yet, or do I have to wait for them to open (that is until late November, as you wrote)? I am willing to be as fast as possible, so I’m thinking that signing in now would spare some time…

    • Hi Federica,

      You will need to wait and create a profile when the pools re-open. Invites are unlikely to go out for another 2-3 weeks after that so you have nothing to worry about in terms of speed 🙂

  57. Hello Gemma, thank you for the insightful blog with Q&A you have setup!

    I am about to start my IEC working holiday application when they open probably next week.

    I would super-appreciate some insight/help on my issue as I really haven’t found an answer to my question!

    As I’m in a common-law relationship and intend to declare that on my IEC application, my partner would like apply for an OWP when and if I get an NOC A or B job. Will proof of my common-law status (i.e forms, rental agreements, explanations, letters, etc.) be required on my IEC application OR will that be on my Partner’s later OWP application? How do we approach this?

    Thank you very-very much in advance!

  58. Hi Gemma,

    Thanks for all the information, extremely useful!

    Do you happen to know how long is a police certificate good for? I have a couple of old ones translated and certified and I am wondering if I should get some new ones?



  59. Hey Gemma,

    You stated in the FAQ section that you may apply for the IEC from within Canada, my question is do you have to leave Canada and re-enter to show POE and other documents to a border/immigration officer or is there a way you can do that also from within Canada?

    Thanks in advance

  60. Hi Gemma,
    as far as you know, did anybody ever experience their application IEC2019 withdrawn without the actual applicant withdrawing it? I got an email saying that i withdrew my application but i didn’t. I am just trying to figure out if i was hacked or something. Thank you kindly

  61. Hi Gemma,
    I am from Italy and I am currently visiting in Canada, I would like to apply for IEC2019, do I have to go back to Italy to get my Biometrics done? Or I can get them done here in Canada and submit my application from here?

    Thank you so much fro your time!

  62. Hi Gemma,

    Thanks so much for all the information you’ve already provided. I couldn’t see my question previously mentioned, so hopefully I’m not asking something that’s already been covered. I’m an Australian citizen, completed an IEC 2 year Working Holiday visa at the start of this year. Can I apply for an IEC – Young Professionals visa assuming I meet all of the requirements? Or are Australians only entitled to 1 IEC 2 year visa? Seems to be some conflicting information on the web.

    Thanks a lot in advance!

    • Hi Ryan

      Australian citizens are allowed to do the Working Holiday OR the Young Professionals IEC program as well as the International Co-op (for students only). So, no, I’m afraid you would not be eligible. You can see this stated on the official Young Professionals and Working Holiday eligibility pages http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/work/iec/eligibility.asp?country=au&cat=yp&#country_category_name “As an Australian citizen, you may participate in the Young Professionals category only once. If you meet the eligibility criteria, you may participate in IEC one more time through the International Co-op (Internship) category.”

  63. Hi Gemma

    thank you for the great information you put here,very easy to read etc….
    i have question if you can help me…is possible in this 1 year i will be in canada to start procedure for the provisional nominee programme so i get the permanent residency before the year finish?..i have see in some provinces they look people in hotel hospitality jobs that is also where i am working,as in most provinces it says is enought you to working 6 months in canada so you can apply…you think is possible to sort out everything in the 1 year i will be there?
    thank you very much

    • Hi Niko,

      It could be possible, depending on the province’s permanent residency program and how soon you get the qualifying skilled job in Canada.

  64. Excellent blog!

    I’m just applying for my second visa through IEC, this time Young Professionals. On my working holiday visa I stayed in Canada for more than 6 months, so I now need a Canadian criminal record check. I found one company that does a name-based check rather than a fingerprint one, which is a lot cheaper. Will this be accepted by IEC? Or is it essential to get a fingerprint check? New Zealand (where I also need a check) only does name-based, so I don’t see why it would be an issue, but I’d like to be sure!

    Thanks for your help

    • Hi Moana! As per the ‘frequently asked questions’ section of this guide – “I am currently in Canada or have lived in Canada before – do I need a Canadian police certificate?” “Not unless specifically asked by CIC.” Canada does their own checks, if they want one from you for further verification, they will specifically ask.

      For reference, if they do ask, then scroll down further in this section to the answer of “I have previously lived in Canada. CIC have now requested a RCMP criminal records check. How do I get this?” Yes, fingerprints are an essential part of this police check.

  65. Hi Gemma,

    Awesome guide ! I am having lots of trouble with applying for a working holiday visa. I submitted an application into the wrong pool at the end of last season (2018), I wasn’t aware of the difference between the young professionals and the working holiday. On the website it says that applications are withdrawn when a season ends but now that the new season has started I have tried applying for a new working holiday visa and it says “application valid, application already in the pools so it cannot be submitted.” I have already emailed the web forum multiple times and they just keep spitting out information from the website that says I need to press the “withdraw” button that isn’t there. Any help with this would be greatly appreciated!
    Secondly I haven’t been able to open the family information form IMM5707, is that my computer? I have updated my software and that still doesn’t seem to be working.

    Any help is really appreciated.
    Cheers 🙂

  66. Hi Gemma, I have a question about the working holiday visa for the Netherlands, according to the website from the government of Canada the first rounds of invitations still haven’t started yet. Is it normal that it takes this long?
    Another question , I’m ofcourse not sure if I will receive an invitation to apply for a working visa but can I still go visit my friends in March if I haven’t heard anything yet? If I don’t get invited to apply for the working holiday visa, I want to apply to university’s in Canada so I can go to school there again and while I’m visiting my friends I want to go to some university’s to check them out.
    Last year I already had a studenvisa which expired in nov 2018, I was in Canada for 8 months(I can’t apply for a working permit for the 8 months because the course I followed does not apply for this), I don’t want any troubles with the canadian government so I don’t want to take any risks in going back while I already applied for the working holiday visa.
    Could you please help me with this? Thank you. 🙂

    • Hi Carla,

      I have heard (not official) that the Dutch round of invites may be delayed due to Canada and the Netherlands confirming their reciprocal youth mobility agreement. It is unusual but there are some other countries that have also not started invite rounds yet. So the Netherlands is not the only one.

      Yes, you should be fine to visit Canada while waiting.

  67. Hi GEMMA. I am writing yo since I would like to apply for a WHV, and actually I am not a resident of the country I hold the passport (I am living in another country). When I entered to the canadian wesite, it sayd MUST BE A RESIDENCE OF ITALY AT THE TIME OF APPLICATION. Do you know if its possible to still be accepted ?

    • Hi Rodrigo,

      You will need to enter a permanent residency address in Italy to be considered eligible for the Italian pool. Do you have a family member or friend’s address you could use?

  68. Hey Gemma!

    I just found your website and it helps a lot! Makes me have some hope so that you can actually start with an IEC work & holiday visa and end up with the Canadian citizenship!

    I have already received an invitation to apply but there is the question „Have you ever been refused a visa or permit, denied entry to, or ordered to leave Canada or any other country/territory?.
    Does this mean if I have ever been refused a visa APPLICATION? Since my visa application for IEC last year got refused. Or does it mean that if I already had the work permit (visa) issued and I wanted to get into Canada and then it was denied entry to at the boarder??

    Would really appreciate some help since I am not sure about that!

    Thank you so much in advance 🙂

    • Hi Vicki,

      Yes, I believe it means whether you have ever been refused a visa, including the application. Why was your last IEC application refused?

  69. Hi Gemma

    I’ve been in Canada since last year March 2018 and have come in on an IEC Working Holiday. My working Holiday Visa is expiring this month, I have however been selected for the Young Professionals program. My workplace has done their application and paid the $230 compliance fee, and so have I. My application was sent in on the 4th of Feb, but I am going to assume I am not going to have it before the 15th of March (expiry).

    I was hoping to flagpole and come back on a visitors visa, then wait here until I have approval of my Young Professionals Visa to continue working. The reason I do not want to leave Canada is because going back to South Africa, I might need to do a medical for the second time. I have a car and am renting a place, so it would not make sense to go back. I am applying under Dutch Citizenship as I did before and there has never been a problem with Visa’s or ETA’s/ESTA’s.

    Thanks in advance


    • Hi Terry,

      I’m not sure what your question is, but if it relates to what to do while waiting for your Young Professionals work permit, I would EXTEND your stay in Canada as a visitor online and NOT flagpole. Applying online to extend your stay as a visitor costs $100 but it is far more likely to be approved and then you won’t need to leave Canada. While you wait for the decision on the visitor status, you have implied visitor status and can stay within Canada.

  70. Hi Gemma,

    Thank you for your site and all your information.

    I would like to ask regarding the IEC visa. I have applied for it and I am waiting for the POE letter. Once you receive your POE letter, I understand that you have a year to enter Canada.
    Due to the time it has taken to apply and now the concern about timings and work projects, I am not sure I will be able to leave in the year. My question is, are you able to defer the entrance? Is there anyway to enter the country later than your entry date?

    Thank you for your help.
    Kind regards

    • Hi Nadine,

      If you haven’t received your POE yet, the best thing you can do is withdraw from the IEC immediately. The instructions to do so can be found here https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/work-canada/iec/after-apply-next-steps.html

      If you receive your POE and then can’t go within the year, I’m afraid you have lost your chance. Receiving a POE counts as your participation. In all the years I have been involved with the IEC, I’ve only ever seen four people receive extensions or deferrals on their POE entry. All had very serious reasons why they could not activate their IEC. From memory, one was hospitalised for most of the year and needed to stay in their home country to be observed for another year. In a really sad case, one participant’s parent died very close to their activation deadline and they had to care for their remaining parent. Extensions are only available in very serious situations and even then, it is not guaranteed.

  71. Hi Gemma,

    I have been granted a working holiday visa extension for 8 months beyond the expiration of my original visa(i have been in Canada for 2 years already), and am wondering if you have any insight on how many visa extensions you can get. I applied from in Canada with an employer specific extension until June 2021, but the extension I was granted is only until October 2019. Any advice if I can apply for another extension on top of an extension?

    • Hi Meagan,

      IEC extensions can only be extended in very specific circumstances. This include scenarios such as participants changing their passports or the border officers making an expiry date mistake. There are no extensions that allow you to work longer beyond your original participation limit e.g. for UK and Australian citizens, this is two years maximum.

      If your situation is not listed on this page https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/work-canada/iec/extend-change.html, then you cannot extend your IEC. I should add that some of these scenarios are only applicable for people with Young Professional IEC permits, such as the ‘I want to change employers’ one.

  72. Hi Gemma,

    Thanks for this great website.

    I just got my invitation to apply for the IEC today and so am trying to fill in as much information as I can at the moment. In the section ‘Immigration history and Citizenships’ it asks if I have ever applied for or obtained a visa, eTA or permit to visit, live, work or study in Canada?
    I have been to Toronto twice (in June 2014 and August 2016) for short visits but can’t seem to find any old emails regarding eTAs or visit permits and I can’t remember what sort of application I had to do…
    Was there such things as eTAs at the time??


  73. Hi Gemma!
    Thank you for all your advice!
    I just have one more question: I am from Poland and want to take part in the Working Holiday program. I am still at University and going to graduate in June.
    What should I answer in the “Are you registered at a college or university in your country of citizenship?” Yes? or no – since soon I’ll be a graduate?
    What will happen if I choose Yes and get an invitation after I graduate?

    Help, please 🙂
    Thank you!

    • Hi Karolina,

      You should answer all questions honestly so that would be a yes. I believe all it will do is potentially offer you the option to apply for the ‘International Co-op’ program. You have to be a student to be eligible for that program so it’s just checking whether that is an option for you. Don’t worry though, if you want to do the working holiday program, the application for that will still appear too.

  74. Hi Gemma

    I am currently working in Canada under the IEC and my working visa is set to expire in August of 2020. Due to a family member becoming very sick I need to go back to Australia, where I will need to renew my passport. Am i still able to come back to Canada to work using my current work visa if I have a new passport?

  75. Hi there, I hold a 2 year working holiday visa, but unfortunately I had a location placed under additional information when I crossed the border. I didn’t originally think I would want to return (I was working over the grape harvest, and it was only supposed to be for that season), but I have since changed my mind, and finding a job within that location is very difficult. I cannot seem to get a straight answer out of IEC as to whether I need to have my visa changed (it is only under additional information rather than being listed as a condition, so I am not sure whether I need to change it), and how to do this if I do. Do you happen to know? I realize I should have checked when I crossed the border, but I really did not think I would be going back. I am currently not in Canada

    • Hi Alana,

      If you were in Canada, I would advise you to go to the border to get a new work permit issued. I’ve heard about people being successful doing this where their work permit has been issued similarly incorrectly, with the wrong expiry date for example. Since you’re not in Canada now, I would try and get it fixed when you next re-enter.

  76. Hi, this guide is great. Definitely one of the better more informative guides I’ve found. I have a question you might know the answer to (apologies if this has been asked and/or answered several times already) I have just received the invitation to apply for the IEC working holiday visa and I’m wondering – regarding explaining timeline gaps in employment etc is there a best way to do this as I have previously saved extensively in order to not have to work for an almost 2 year period where I lived on savings. I just wonder what way to best explain this gap in employment. Also when I initially finished college I have a gap before I started in a job. Hope you have the answers.

    • Hi Jack! I wouldn’t worry too much about the nature of actually explaining it, it is making sure that there are no gaps that is so vitally important. They are not judging you by whatever you were doing during that time, they just want to know whether they need to require medicals, police certs etc from you. So you’d be fine to explain it as unemployment and put the location where you were for the most part.

      To give you an example of my own, I became a Canadian citizen last year and I had to detail my whereabouts in detail for the last 7 years, including addresses. For long periods of this time I was travelling and living in a van, which I’m sure the immigration staff assessing my application thought was bizarre!

  77. Hi Gemma,

    My IEC working holiday visa application was recently rejected because the submitted scan of my passport was not clear enough. I think there is grounds for dispute – my partner submitted a passport scan created by the same scanner and was accepted.

    Have you ever known anyone to successfully appeal a rejected decision for a WHV?

    • Hi Tom,

      Yes, I have, though I haven’t seen someone have to do it for this reason before. That is not to say that you won’t be successful as it does sound like you have a case. If you like, you can join my O Canada Facebook group and get more advice from people who managed it.

  78. Hi Gemma,

    I´m applying for a working holliday in Canada, and I´de like to bring my common law partner with me on this adventure. She´s from Venezuela, so she can´t apply for the IEC programme.
    Some questions:
    1. Can she come with me as my partner through my working holliday visa? We only have an Argentinian certificate that we live together since July/18.
    2. If not, what´s the easiest way?(like a student visa to study english?)

    Thanks in advance,

    • Hi Rodrigo

      She can come with you as a visitor initially and then if you get a skilled job (NOC 0, A or B), she would be able to apply for an open work permit as your common law partner. You would need to show evidence of your common law status and three pay checks.

  79. Hi Gemma,

    Thanks so much for providing such a great website, very helpful! I’m from NZ and am applying for a working holiday visa. I’ve been given 30 days to get my biometrics but unfortunatey I’ve been away and when I applied for an appointment, the date of the appointment is not within the 30 day period, meaning it will expire. I have been given a letter saying if I need more than 30 days I must contact immigration, refugees and citizenship Canada at https://www.canada.ca/immigration. However, I’ve been on this site and cannot find where to contact immigration, etc. and ask for a longer time to get my biometrics. Do you know what I should do or who I should contact?

    Charlotte 🙂

  80. Hey there,

    I have a question! Is it possible to enter in on the 3 month tourist visa and finish my application for the 2 year IEC from within Canada? I have already applied for this however, for personal reasons I am meant to be in Canada within a month. The only part that seems to be unclear is getting my biometrics done in Canada. I believe this is not possible in Canada but I could get it done in the US?

    Thank you!

    • Yes, you can but you are correct about having to leave Canada to do the biometrics. It is possible to do them in the US, however your primary purpose of your trip has to be something else e.g shopping, tourism etc.

  81. Hi Gemma,

    I am in Vancouver at the moment and have an IEC that has finished but do have a valid eTA. Does my eTa remain valid now or do I need to exit and re-enter the country to be able to stay in Canada as a visitor? I haven’t had much luck in finding this information out elsewhere. Thanks!

  82. Hi Gemma,

    Thanks for the article. It helps a lot.

    Do you know what are the working conditions for a working & holiday visa in Canada? How long could I work for the same employer? Could I get a quality job such as banker, engineer,..? How many hours a week could I work? Could I set up my own company? etc..

    Your help would be much appreciated!


    • No problem Juan!

      There are only a few restrictions to the IEC. No sex work and to work in some health/childcare related jobs you must have a medical (as mentioned in this post).

      In answer to your specific questions –

      However long you want, no restriction besides the length of the IEC work permit
      As many as is allowed by labour laws, same as a Canadian citizen

  83. Hi Gemma,

    if I applied to be in the working holiday visa pool, can I apply to get into the young professional pool aswell. (As soon as I got a job offer).


  84. Hi guys, great website..
    A quick question that perhaps you could help with..
    I am currently in the process of getting my working holiday visa having completed the biometrics.. Now i have a request for 2 police certs (I have already given 2 from Uk and Aust) However I lived in India and China also… When i first applied i mentioned its pretty much logistically impossible to get these 2 in the time frame… but now again they’ve asked for them.. Any advice? If I tell them again will they let it pass? Tried finding a number to call but seems pretty much impossible as im currently in Vietnam….
    Thanks a lot,

    • Hi Sam

      If you have tried without success to get these police certs, I would upload the evidence and write a Letter of Explanation. I know some people have been approved like this.

  85. Hey,

    I have a Question about the part:
    \”Have you ever committed, been arrested for, been charged with or convicted of any criminal offence in any country/territory?\”

    I was caught once with a very small amount of weed but never been charged with. They just dropped the case.
    If there is no entry in my police certificate is it better to just answer the question with no? If yes and I explain it do I still have the chance to get the visa?

    Thanks a lot!

    • Hi Daniel,

      It’s always best to be completely honest. I have seen people with cautions and minor offences still get approved before. I would write a Letter of Explanation and talk about the circumstances and your otherwise good character and record.

  86. Hi Gemma,

    Thank you for creating such a useful website. I’m Canadian and currently live in the UK. My partner is British and we’ve applied for the working holiday program visa for him. We completed all of the steps and he submitted his biometrics. I thought that was the last step until a decision on his application is made, but a few days ago he received a new message on his account saying that he would need to fill out a IMM5257B form for his trips since 2006. In the past, whenever he would receive new messages on his application, he would receive an email to notify him. For some reason this time he did not receive an email so we were unaware of the message and the due date for the information was yesterday. I tried clicking on the link to the form to see if it would still work, but its expired. I’m quite worried now that his application won’t be approved because we didn’t fill out the form. Have you come across this before/do you have any advice?

    Thank you for your help,

    • Hi Maria,

      I’m sorry that you missed the notification to fill out the additional form. It sounds like he has been asked to complete this as they want more information about his movements. It is likely that his application will be refused since you missed the due date. You can try and appeal vias the IRCC webform but, I’m sorry to say, it will probably be refused. The good news is that the IEC quota for UK citizens has just recently doubled, so he will be able to apply again and is more likely to receive another invite reasonably quickly.

  87. Hi Gemma,
    Thanks for the helpful info.
    I just completed a similar working holiday in the UK. When I was there, I traveled out of the UK at least once every 2 months so was not in the country for a continuous 6 month period. Will I still need to provide a UK police certificate in my application for the IEC visa?

    • Hi Alex,

      How long did you travel outside of the UK for? If only a couple of days at a time, I would get a police certificate. Otherwise, you can wait and see if they request one, but you’d have to make it very clear in your resume and work history that you travelled in and out of the UK.

      • Thanks for the prompt reply!
        Yea, travel outside the UK couple of days. Looks like I do need a UK police certificate. Will probably do it through ACRO but is there a free/cheaper service that you know of? Thanks again.

        • The only accepted UK police certificate for the IEC is from the ACRO, so definitely don’t apply for a different one! 🙂

  88. Hi Gemma,

    Thanks for your write-up on this – really useful! I just have a question I am hoping you can help me with. I am wanting to get a working holiday visa however I only want to activate it if i can find a job/good opportunities before I get there, as I am looking in a specific field of work, and don\\\’t want to waste my visa if i can\\\’t find the right job. What is the furtherest point I can get through the application before being able to withdraw and still be able to re-apply?

    Thanks 🙂

    • Hi Samantha,

      You can withdraw all the way up to receiving your POE. Once you receive the POE, I’m afraid it would be too late and it counts as a participation.

  89. Hi Gemma,

    I’m confused about the difference between applying for a work permit through the IEC or simply submitting an open work permit application directly. I have friends who applied through the IEC and had to wait for an invitation to apply before paying their fees. However I simply paid my fees straight away and submitted an open work permit application without receiving any invitation to apply. I am afraid I may have done something incorrectly as I applied more than 3 months ago now and have not gotten any response from the IRCC.

    Does it matter which way you apply? I am applying from Ireland.

    Many thanks,


    • Hi David,

      I’m afraid you must go through the proper IEC process to be able to take part in the IEC. Applying for a work permit without a valid LMIA will lead to a refusal. The IEC process is LMIA exempt, but you need to get an invitation instead. Your work permit application will be refused.

  90. I’ve submitted my application just yesterday and now I’m worried it may get refused since I didn’t include a police certificate from Canada, I literally have just thought about this now! I was living there for 2 years with my boyfriend before and came back to the UK for a year where I am now, I was on extensions of visiting visas so didn’t work, study, or own any property, etc. I provided a UK police report but only now am I thinking I maybe should have applied for a Canadian one. Now I’m super worried, I have ALL the other documents..

    Will they simply ask me to provide one or are my chances now gone?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Jade,

      Don’t worry! As mentioned in this post, you do not need a Canadian police certificate unless IEC specifically asks you for one. So you’re all fine. If you do receive a request, then you will need to get one.

  91. Hello Gemma,
    My name is Emily I’m currently in the middle of my application for my working holiday Visa. I live in the UK but have lived in America for several years I have tried to apply for my criminal background check from the FBI several times now but fingerprints keep being rejected for not having enough information in them unfortunately this isn’t my genetic’s and there’s nothing I’m able to do about it. Will this stop me from being excepted for the working holiday Visa if I am unable to get a police certificate from the FBI.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    • Hi Emily,

      Not necessarily, if you have mitigating circumstances. Did you mean to say that it *is* your genetics that is causing the fingerprints issue? If you have proof of this (a doctor’s note? test results?) and proof of the numerous FBI rejections, I personally think it would be worth uploading a Letter of Explanation with a description of your issue and the efforts you have made to try and get the FBI certificate. They may still ask you to keep trying but there is a chance they may also approve your application without the FBI certificate.

  92. Hello Gemma,

    My IEC work permit was approved! I have to enter by July 2020, now, I’m going to Canada in 3 days to visit my boyfriend, will this count as me entering?! I want to work for a full year to gather enough funds, this short trip is only 28 days and simply a visit! Of course, I won’t be bringing my POE letter and will tell the agent I’m visiting. Is it okay to visit?!

  93. Hey!

    I received my working IEC visa, in that letter I received an eTA number, I already have an eTA number. so which one should I be using? The new one or the previous?! I have flights booked with the old one :(?

    • You would be using the most recent one, since new eTAs overwrite old ones. Make sure you have your printed POE handy when you go to check in for your outgoing flight to Canada in case there is any issue with your eTA. The valid eTA number is on the second page of your POE.

  94. Hi Gemma,

    Thanks for this great website!

    Do you know if it is possible to apply for a Young Professionals visa WHILE being in the middle of my IEC Work Holiday visa? I am from the Netherlands and am eligible to apply for the IEC twice, without a waiting period in between the two, but I can’t seem to find an answer on the web on whether I need to first complete the entire duration of my WH visa before applying for the Young Professionals visa. Would you know?

    The reason I would like to apply for a Young Professionals visa is that I received a job offer and would like to take on their health insurance, however I am not eligible to do so unless I have an employer-specific work permit (which is not the case with the WH visa).

    Thanks a lot for your help!

    • Hi Anouk,

      Yes, you can, unless your country has a mandatory period.

      On another note, that seems like a very specific health insurance requirement? I’ve never heard of that before.

  95. hi there, when i log into my GCKey page, there is no option to click on “what would you like to do today”. in fact there is no option to do anything other than look at FAQ’s. does anyone have any idea why this is?

    • That sounds strange! Do you not have anything that refers to starting a new application or anything like that? I just checked mine and it has ‘apply to come to Canada’

  96. Hello Gemma!

    I’m not sure if you’d be able to advise me on this matter – I got accepted to participate in the IEC (yay!) and have visited my partner in Canada recently, however, I’m making myself unwell with worry that they won’t accept me at the border! The reason being an overstay of 4 months last year, my visa extension didn’t come through the mail, or so my ex-partner said (going through a breakup). I included a detailed explanation and apology within my application and admitted overstaying whilst applying, they still accepted me, however, for some reason I can’t seem to shake the feeling they’re going to refuse me when I enter even though I’ve received my POE and visited recently. Would this be the case? Even after my honestly and reformation, being accepted? They can still turn me around?

    Thank you for any information or advice!

    • Hi Dawn,

      If you’ve received your POE (not just an invite) then it is unlikely. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you that it is impossible. Unlikely though!

      • Thank you so much – I have received my POE letter, so thought it would be unlikely since they’re fully aware and still accepted, however, you never know, thank you for the reassurance!

        Should I bring the letter of explanation with me with my other documents just in case they question me?

          • Thanks a lot, Gemma, I know you can’t guarantee anything or give me a definite answer but hearing that it is unlikely that I’ll be rejected at the POE from someone with years of experience does ease my stress and fear.

            Thank you again!

  97. hello! I’m wondering how I can prove I have funds to purchase a return flight when I try to purchase a return ticket it only goes so far, there are no return tickets that span the entire 24 months (I’m from the UK) only one way. I don’t have a credit card. I’m not sure how I can prove this!


    • You just need to have extra proof of funds to prove you could buy a flight home. They are well aware you can’t buy a flight 24 months ahead.

  98. Hi Gemma,

    Myself and my partner are going to be applying for our work visas – however, we are classified now as ‘common-law’ but we’re getting married in Feb 2020 – therefore he will be my spouse when arriving in Canada. Will that affect things at all, are we supposed to fill out our category as common-law and will i just have to change things later on? Also – if we’re wanting to arrive in 2020 – should we be applying NOW or waiting until the end of the year to apply?

    Thank you!!!

    • I’d apply ASAP if you’re eligible! And I believe you would just upload your marriage cert later but I have no first hand knowledge I’m afraid!

      • Hi Gemma,

        Thanks for your reply – i just had another quick question. Circumstances changed and we didn’t end up applying when we intended to, i had another question now that i’m creating a profile and completing the questionnaire. There is a question that asks what type of work permit i want to apply for and gives me a drop down of 13 choices, from agricultural, to office transfer to religious work etc. Which one best applies to casual work – such as; bar work, admin temp jobs etc? Which is why we plan on doing during our time there.

        Thank you in advance!

          • Hi Gemma,

            Appreciate your response before.
            My partner and i have now submitted our work permit applications and have received our biometrics form. Unfortunately for us there is no local VAC in our state (Perth) and we do not have the funds or time/work leave to travel to another state within 30 days. My question is – if we cannot complete our biometrics and our applications are rejected, are we able to re apply in 1-2 months time for the same work permit application? We will have time/funds then, but i’m not if once the application is rejected you don’t get another chance in the pools within the same season? Any help or advice is greatly appreciated, thank you.

  99. Hi Gemma!
    Thanks for the great website, very helpful and easy to understand. I’m planning on applying for an IEC next season and the information here is more than I expected! I’m a chilean citizen btw.

    I have a very basic question about the police certificate, what is it?? It’s like a criminal record?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Ignacia!

      Yes, police certificates could be described as a criminal record. It varies from country to country what is actually covered by the certificate (e.g. driving violations in Victoria and Queensland in Australia are not included on the Australian police certificate itself)

  100. Hi! So glad to have stumbled upon your site.
    So, I’ve gone through the whole process and submitted my additional documents. Within 2 days I received a Correspondence Letter concerning the validity of my biometric information. So far so good. When I look at the status of my application it says “Approved”, yet I only see that I’ve been approved for my eTA, nothing about my Working Holiday or Work Permit. Is this normal or has there been some mistake?
    Many thanks!

  101. Hi Gemma,

    Thanks so much for this website – it’s a huge wealth of information! Perhaps I’ve missed this or it is a stupid question but I’m from the UK and have had a couple of invitations to apply which I’ve had to decline due to several reasons. I know I won’t be able to apply for the rest of the year so I want to withdraw my application and reapply to the 2020 pool. I’m a litle concerned, will this have a negative effect on my application next year or stop me from applying next year? Secondly, if my application is rejected after I have had my invitation to apply for some reason, can I reapply the same year or would I need to wait until the next year? (Then 2021)

    Any help with these questions would be greatly appreciated!

    Many thanks again!

    • Hi Drew,

      No, declining past invitations has no negative effects (or any kind of effect at all really) on an IEC application. I know plenty of people who have declined two or three (or more) invites before they finally accepted and are now living in Canada on the IEC.

      No, you can reapply the same year. It is unlikely you’d be rejected however as long as you meet the eligibility criteria (age, no previous IEC participations etc). It does happen occasionally that a processing officer makes a mistake but you can appeal.

  102. Hello, Gemma!

    Thank you so much for this info, I can’t believe I just found it now that I already have my POE letter, heheh

    I do have a small question for you, if you can help…

    As I mentioned, I already have my POE, insurance, ticket to Canada, etc etc

    The only thing is that my passport expires in September 2020 (I’ll arrive in Canada this November 2019) and I thought that if I got a new passport I would have to apply to the IEC again. Now that I’ve read more about it I’m thinking I just need to apply for a new eTA. Is this right? Can I get a new passport (with longer validity) and still use the same POE to enter Canada?

    Thank you, once again, for the awesome website. I’m just starting to read it but I can already tell it will be extremely useful 😉

    Joana Leite

  103. Hello! I juts got an invitation to apply for a WHV for Canada. I have a question regarding the police certificate. I am Spanish and in the Canadian immigration web says that I do not need a police certificate if I come from Spain. However, I did erasmus in Italy (I was there from september 2014 to december 2014 and from february 2015 to june 2015). It is weird because I was just studying there, and I did not exactly spend there six months non-stop, so I do not know if I shoulc ask for the Italian police certificate.

    • Hi Julia,

      If you weren’t there for 6 months or more consecutively, then no, you wouldn’t need an Italian certificate. You should make it very clear in the resume section, however, that you didn’t spend 6 months or more there.

  104. Hey Gemma,

    Myself and my wife have both applied for the IEC working holiday here from the UK. However, we’ve recently had our baby girl who will no doubt be coming with us to Canada next year! As she’s too young for a ‘study visa’ & a ‘work visa’ would an ETA suffice? I’m curious to know whether the border office would be generous enough to offer her an instant two years or if we could extend her stamp every 6 months until we complete the two year program . Have any others had any experience of this that you know?

    Thanks a lot !

    Kuldip 🙂

    • Hi Kuldip,

      Congrats! Your daughter will need an eTA, that is correct, and then will be issued with a visitor record on arrival. This should match the length of your IEC but if not, you’ll have to extend it later.

  105. Hi Gemma,

    Wondering if you have any advice, I have contacted IRCC twice about this via webform and both times recieved a generic FAQ copy paste reply which did not answer my question.

    My POE is dated to expire the 14th of March, as such I have made all my travel plans around that date (wanting to leave as late as possible to save up money). I recently saw a post on an IEC forum on facebook which indicated that people who took a medical as part of their application, the POE is supposed to expire 1 year from the date of your medical, not 1 year from the date of the POE issue. This is the first I’d heard of this. I’ve obviously scoured the internet to look for clarification and found nothing besides the information on the IRCC website which says ‘Your POE Letter will normally be valid for 12 months. If you underwent a medical exam, it will be valid until the expiry date of your medical exam or for 12 months, whichever is less.’

    I have messaged IRCC to ask them to clarify when my POE letter actually expires in my case, to be sure I don’t wind up paying for a second medical, but also to esnure I don’t leave 6 weeks earlier than planned uneccessarily.

    I am unsure whether I am supposed to obey the date on my letter, if I should arrive before the one year anniversary of my medical *appointment*, or the one year anniversary of the day my IRCC account says I passed my medical.

    The second reply I got from IRCC states the following and makes no reference to my query about medical exams:
    “There is a box titled “Permit validity” on your Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction. You must come to Canada prior to that date. If the validity date has passed and you have not yet come to Canada, you must submit a new application.

    You cannot extend the validity date on your Letter of Introduction.

    Your Letter of Introduction will normally be valid for 12 months.

    Check your work permit carefully before leaving the border services office. Make sure you understand all the information on the permit. If you think there is a mistake on your work permit, please tell the border services officer right away. Make sure your name is spelled correctly. Check the expiry date shown under the “Valid until” box.

    Your work permit will not be valid beyond:

    the amount of time indicated in the agreement between Canada and your country,
    the expiry date of your passport,
    the expiry date of your health insurance, or
    the end date of your work contract (Young Professionals and International Co-op (Internship participants)”

    I do not have the results as the panel physician I used said they would send these directly to IRCC and only contact me if there was an unexpected problem with my blood test results, which they’d need to send off to a lab before being able to officially ‘pass’ me. Therefore I am unaware of the actual date my medical was stamped and signed as ‘passed’, except for going by the date in my IRCC account. (My medical was 01/02/19, IRCC says I passed my medical on 18/02/19).

    I am travelling with my partner and my dog, so 6 weeks really does change everything we had planned, the dog will not be accepted for travel in Feb due to potential weather issues and both my partner and I lose out on a months wages to the tune of almost £4000. Obvioulsy I could leave ahead of them both, but then I’d be looking for a car, house and job etc on my own, or paying to live in temporary accomodation for a month until he arrives. I could also flagpole, but the trip will cost me a minimum of £600, so doesn’t really save me any money in the long run.

    We will figure something out of course, but it would be helpful to know exactly what date I’m working to in order to figure out how best to change the plans we’ve made.

    I could keep sending off web forms offering various iterations of the same question, but after two attempts, the second of which I even politely informed them they’d misunderstood my previous enquiry, I’m losing hope of getting a straight answer.

    • Hi Patchouli,

      This is a weird situation as the POE expiry should be 12 months after the medical. I can see your posts in my Facebook group (O Canada) and see that Cathy has offered you the same advice I would have – to try and contact IRCC via the official Facebook page since the webform hasn’t provided any real answers.

  106. Hi Gemma,

    I’ve just been reading through all the questions relating to expired POE and other documents. I am from Australia and I’ve been approved for the work permit. My question is if one of your provided documents for the work permit like the traffic history check expire before you enter Canada will you be required to provide a renewed version of that document? Do I need to ensure that I enter Canada before any of my provided documents expire or is it just the POE that matters after I’ve been approved?

    • Hi Sam,

      No, the documents only need to be valid on application, not when you enter Canada as well. So if a police certificate has expired by you are actually activating your IEC, you do not need to get a new one.

  107. Hi Gemma!

    Just a quick question, my fiance is using IEC to travel to Canada for 2 years (from the UK).

    I see the part where you say a credit card works as proof of having funds to buy a return flight, was just wondering if overdraft would work for that too? He has no debt, and $3000 available in overdraft.

    • Hi Emily,

      An overdraft is effectively a line of credit, so yes, it would work the same as a credit card regarding the proof of funds to buy a return flight. It could definitely not be used as proof of the initial $2500 funds though 🙂

  108. Hey Gemma,

    First of all, congratulations for the work you are doing here. I read that “It is only possible to submit biometrics with a request letter. This is sent after submitting the work permit application (stage five in this guide)”. Does this mean that I cannot get the biometrics done in my country before getting an invitation for IEC? I am planning on spending 6 months in Canada as a tourist and apply from there, so I want to gather all the documents necessary before going to Canada for travel. Do you think this is possible?

    Thanks a lot for your time!

    • That is correct. You have to wait. If you’re planning to go to Canada, you’ll need to exit Canada and get biometrics done in the US as there is nowhere in Canada for IEC applicants to submit biometrics at the moment. This does come with risks, however, as there remains a small risk that you may not get entry back into Canada.

  109. Hi,
    Thank you so much for this information. This will help me big time as I am applying for the iec for 2020.
    I have figured out all the documents I need, but medical check is a bit worrying at the moment and I hope you might help me. I am Latvian living in U.K. for the past 10 years permanently only going away on 2 week holidays. I know that people who have lived in the past year in U.K. don’t need medical check if not planning to work in area where it is needed. Does this apply to me as well?

    • A medical check is only required if you have ‘ lived or travelled for 6 months in certain countries or territories in the year before you come to Canada.’ Latvia is included on that country list but if you haven’t lived there recently, no, it’s not likely you’d need one.

  110. Hi, Gemma!

    Wow – this is an awesome article. I just have a few questions which are specific per my situation. My boyfriend is from the Netherlands and will be moving here in January. He will be coming with an eTA but is planning on submitting his profile into the pools as soon as they open. Would you be able to shed some light on what the process is like if you\’ve already been travelling in Canada (assuming he receives an invitation). Is it going to be extremely difficult to apply, obtain, and activate an IEC while living in Canada with an eTA? I\’m also wondering about getting biometrics done and where to submit them if he\’s here already. When looking on the government site it looks like you can submit your biometrics to the Kelowna airport but you\’ve stated otherwise in this article.

    Secondly, since he\’s from the Netherlands, he needs a formal request letter from the government for a background check. Will he receive a letter from the government if he\’s invited to apply so that he can request one? Do we need to worry about this before he is invited?

    Any insight you have would be so appreciated. Thank you for your time and help!

  111. Hi Gemma,

    This is the most helpful website out there for applying to IEC. I hope you can help me.
    I think I am ok, but some confirmation would be great. I am Latvian, my passport is Latvian. I just applied to working holiday visa. I have lived for the past 10 years in UK, I have address in Latvia, but I haven’t lived there for a while.
    I filled in my eligibility as I am permanent resident in Latvia but my current residence is UK, otherwise I wasn’t eligible.
    Do I have to be in Latvia if I am invited or is it ok that I am in UK for so long?
    Thank you

    • Hi Baiba,


      The eligiblity criteria for Latvian citizens states that you must –

      “prove you’re a resident of Latvia when you apply – this means you must give either a residential or mailing address in Latvia”

      So on your application, your permanent address and mailing address must be in Latvia. It sounds that you have done this. You don’t have to physically be in Latvia during the application, unless the IEC change the system this year.

  112. Hi Gemma,

    Thank you for your very informative article. It helps me to navigate through the process a lot.

    I am currently in the process of lodging an application after received the invitation earlier this month. I have dual citizenships of Taiwan and Australia. And I have predominantly been living in Australia for the past 9 years. My question is, when I fill in the application, do i have to include Taiwanese citizenship? Or can I just use Australian one to apply?

    The dilemma is that if I include Taiwanese citizenship, I will have to provide more information and undergo medical exam. And Taiwan has only got 12 month quota, whilst Australia has 24 months.

    Thank you for your advice.

  113. Hi Gemma,

    First of all, thanks for your website! I only wish I saw it before applying as I did not note that when applying as an Italian I also needed a mailing address from there, and since I live in Brazil and just gave them my Brazilian address, I was denied the visa.

    However, there are somethings I´d like your opinion:

    1: even before I got my applcation declined, I figured i needed an Italian address, therefore I sent IRCC an webform with it
    One day AFTER I sent the webform, I got the decline for the application for the very reason that I did not have an Italian address. Do you think the webform can still be read and the same application be reconsidered? If not, is there any way they would refund the application fee so I could apply for a new one?

    2: Let´s say they dont reconsider and I have to apply for a new one, but I had already bought the tickets and they are expensive to change. I read that you said its usually not a good idea to wait for the decision from Canada; however, if I decide on doing so, what would happen when I got my letter of acceptance, since I have to come to Canada through a port of entry? Would I have to leave Canada and come back?

    Best regards,


  114. hey!

    I really want to create my profile and get started on getting a working holiday visa but the only problem is my work contract ends in just over a month, which means I’ll have to get a new job after.
    My question is if I create a profile or submit anything with my current job title, if that changes then when I progress in the process, will that be considered fraud on my application?
    And i i cant find a job immediately after will it affect my application if i’m unemployed?

    Thanks a mill, Claire

    • Hi Claire,

      No, being unemployed or changing jobs does not make any difference regarding your IEC working holiday application.

      The IEC program is currently on hold, so although you can still submit a profile, please be aware that no invites are currently being sent.

  115. Hi Gemma!

    Thank you for the detailed article, it was very helpful.

    I was wondering if you could enlighten me about something.

    My friend lives abroad; he was here last summer (2019) to work then when back home. His work permit is valid for 2 years – until June 2021.

    He had his POE letter activated in June 2019, when he came.

    Given the covid situation, if he wanted to come back and finish his permit/visa now, would he need a new POE letter (as it says everywhere that it’s valid for 12 months), or does him having the work permit already make him eligible to come?

    Basically what I’m wondering is if the valid work permit prevails the expiry date of initial POE in this case.

    I hope you can enlighten me!

    Thank you a lot

    • Hi Marie,

      After an IEC participant activates their POE, the work permit supersedes it. So the POE itself is no longer relevant (except for the eTA attached to it). The important date now is the expiry of the work permit. As per the current government guidance, any IEC participants with activated IEC work permits are allowed to return to Canada. The problem is, some people have received refusals when checking in for their flights, due to check-in staff and border officers demanding a job offer letter (you can read about these experiences in my FB group, O Canada). So my recommendation would be to get a job offer if possible.


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