Canada is a wonderful and unique country at the northern edge of North America. It’s the second largest country in the world in terms of land mass, behind only Russia, but holds only around 37 million people, mostly packed into a few large cities. Cities like Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver have vibrant cultural scenes and strong economies with lots of working opportunities, and outside the cities is some of the best natural splendor in the world, from the coasts of the maritime provinces to the mountainous west coast¹.
In addition to traditional visa types for work and vacation travel, Canada is one of the countries, like France, that offers a working holiday visa. This article will explain the working holiday visa: what it is, who can qualify for it, what are the requirements for it, and how much it costs. Let’s jump in.
Canada has a simplified visa system, and its visas fall into two categories: temporary and permanent. Temporary visas allow travelers to reside in Canada for a limited span of time for reasons of work, tourism, family visits, or education.
Temporary visas allow people to stay in Canada for up to six months in most cases. They can either be single entry, which means a person can come through customs one time and stay in country, or multiple entry, which means they can enter Canada and leave multiple times on the same visa.
There are multiple types of temporary visas for Canada. The list below defines them².
- Tourist Visa: This allows tourists to enter Canada for the purposes of recreational travel.
- Super Visa: This visa is not for comic book heroes, though it may sound like it. The Super Visa is intended to let the parents or grandparents of Canadian citizens enter the to visit their children or grandchildren.
- Diplomatic and Official Visa: This visa permits representatives of foreign countries to enter Canada for diplomatic purposes.
- Courtesy Visa: This is similar to the Diplomatic and Official visa. It’s meant for government employees on diplomatic trips who do not hold official titles, like assistants to state officials or trade representatives.
- Business Visa: This is what it sounds like, a visa for those entering Canada for business purposes.
- Canada Visa For The Purpose Of Giving Birth: This is a special visa for those who want to give birth in Canada so that their child is automatically granted Canadian citizenship.
- Intending Organ Donors Visa: This is for foreigners to travel to Canada for the purpose of donating an organ to a Canadian citizen.
- Facilitation Visa: This visa is for Canadian citizens with dual nationalities who are residing in a country and are under threat of violence or extreme hardship and need to seek sanctuary, but don’t hold a Canadian passport.
- Student Visa: This visa allows students to enter Canada to complete coursework and need to stay in the country for more than six months.
- Temporary Foreign Workers: This visa allows people to work in Canada for up to six months.
- Working Holiday Visa: The reason you’re here. The Working Holiday Visa, known as the International Experience Canada (IEC) visa, offers a wonderful opportunity for young, non-student travelers. It allows people from 30 countries (that’s a lot) to work and travel in Canada at the same time.
The Canadian Working Holiday Visa is a random selection visa. Many young people apply for it and the Canadian government can’t grant them all entry, so in fairness they choose from the multitude of applicants using random selection.
To apply for an International Experience Canada visa, your native country must have a working agreement with Canada. You also must meet the eligibility requirements for the specific country you’re traveling from³.
You can apply for an International Experience Canada visa if you are between 18 and 35 years old. Australian citizens can apply for and use the International Experience Canada only once, but when granted it lasts for up to 24 months.
Work Visas are intended for people locked into long-term careers who are traveling to a new country for a job, and are often sponsored for the visa by their employer. Working Holiday Visas are perfect for young travelers from countries that have a bilateral agreement with Canada. Not everyone can afford to travel to a country for months or years at a time.
An IEC visa gives you freedom and flexibility. You don’t have to lock yourself down with one employer, or one location. You can roam through Canada as you please, and pick up work along the way. Working Holiday Visa holders typically find work in hourly wage service roles such as English language teachers, tutors, farm workers, and waiters.
Citizens of other countries who travel to Canada for longer than a couple weeks should seek the IEC visa. It allows you to pick up gigs while experiencing the daily life and culture of Canada. Most travelers don’t have the resources to traipse through a country for months on end without working. The government of Canada doesn’t want the cultural benefits of travel to be experienced by the independently wealthy alone, so as long as you’re willing to put in some regular hours of service work, you’re free to explore the Canadian Rockies or the Saguenay fjord in your own time. It’s a form of cultural outreach, like a study abroad program, but with working replacing academic study⁴.
An International Experience Canada Visa costs $150 CAD⁵.
It can take up to eight weeks for an International Experience Canada Visa application to be approved⁶. That means it’s important to plan your Canada sojourn ahead of time, and allow for plenty of time for your application to wind its way through the bureaucratic system. Don’t wait until the last minute!
If you hail from a country that has a bilateral agreement with Canada, like Australia, to permit working holiday visas, your money will likely be in a local account in your home country, and in your home country’s currency, like Australian dollars. When you apply for an EIC, you must prove that you have a few thousand dollars saved to support yourself. But you’ll have a hard time accessing that money if it’s in a local Australian bank with no branches in Canada, and you risk waving goodbye to a sizable portion of it because of the exchange rate.
TransferWise is here to help. TransferWise is an online currency exchange service that lets you to change your funds at the real, mid-market exchange rate. What’s that? It’s the fairest, most advantageous exchange rate for the party doing the exchanging. That’s the rate nearest to the true market rate you can see when you search for a currency pair on Google. Most brick-and-mortar currency exchange vendors set a rate that works in their favor. It’s a way to hide hidden fees to cover the overhead of running a physical business. TransferWise is all online, so it doesn’t have those considerations. Exchanging at the mid-market rate means you get more money in your pocket.
But TransferWise’s benefits don’t stop there. They now offer an account specially designed for nomads: the Borderless account. It provides holders with banking information not just for their home country, but for Australia, New Zealand, the US, the UK, and the EU. It also allows account holders to withdraw their cash not just in one static currency, but in over 40 different currencies. That cash is even exchanged into local currency at the mid-market exchange rate. It’s the perfect option for safe, secure, reliable, and cheap money management for IEC holders.
The International Experience Canada Visa is a wonderful opportunity that enables young, curious travelers without established careers to work while experiencing life in Canada. If you have an itching wanderlust and hail from one of the countries that has a bilateral agreement with Canada, you can spend up to two years traipsing around Canadian national parks, secure in the knowledge that you can earn a living while doing so. Also, keep TransferWise in mind for your currency exchange and banking needs. You can count on them to give you the fairest exchange rates, as well as a host of helpful services.
All sources accurate as of 29 April 2019
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