A country with beautiful landscapes, exciting cities and diverse culture, Canada is a place that has been on my wander-list for years. After visiting New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa, I looked into doing the same in Canada. As a British National, I am eligible to apply for the Canada IEC Working Holiday Visa – the perfect opportunity to work and travel in Canada temporarily for up to two years.
If you are aged between 18 and 30 (or 35 for some nationalities), you can apply to live and work in Canada under the IEC scheme for up to 12 or 24 months.
You are eligible if you are from: Austria, Australia, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine or the United Kingdom.
For most countries, you only get one shot at this visa. You can apply for it as many times as you like; but once it has been approved, you cannot apply for it again. Once issued, you only have one chance to use this visa.
With any visa, you can ask a third party agency to sort the process for you at a cost, or you can do it yourself through the official Canadian immigration website (CIC).
The process of applying for a Working Holiday IEC visa for Canada is difficult. There are many different stages and there is a lot of information to provide, making it a long, complicated process. It’s nowhere near as simple as the Working Holiday Visa for New Zealand – where you fill in your details online and have the visa emailed to you about an hour later!
Your application is highly likely to be approved provided that you meet the eligibility requirements and supply all the requested information.
However, the IEC visa scheme is hugely oversubscribed. For most countries, there are quotas on how many applicants will be invited to apply for the IEC visa. So you may end up waiting in the pool for a very long time before getting the chance to apply for the visa.
In the UK, the limit is just 5000 people – and more than double that amount apply for it. If you do get an invitation to apply, you are one of the lucky ones!
I waited such a long time for my visa to be approved. I had applied in the 2016-2017 round of entries, not received an invitation to apply, and then applied again in the 2017-2018 round, where, after a total of almost a year waiting, I finally received an invitation to apply. My visa was approved in September 2017 – yep, over a year ago.
You have one year from the date the IEC is issued to actually enter the country. Lots of time to plan, make arrangements for your house, car, job, etc. But here we are a year later and I didn’t book a flight.
So, with the knowledge that Canada is a pretty cool country with lots of work opportunities and the possibility to go hiking or skiing every weekend, and having been through the painful process of applying for and actually being granted an IEC visa, why on earth have I turned down the opportunity?
1) Firstly, when I asked myself why I would go to Canada on the IEC visa, the only reasons I could really think of were that it is a new opportunity to travel & work, and I couldn’t shake the thought that I should go, simply not to waste the opportunity. Not because I felt in my heart that I actually wanted to go.
2) The idea of moving to Canada on the IEC visa was when I was living in New Zealand with my ex boyfriend. We had planned to do in Canada as we had done in New Zealand; work for a few months, buy a campervan and travel the country. We wanted to hike, see the lakes, ski the slopes. It was ‘our’ idea, not mine.
3) The idea of moving to Canada was formed when I was in a completely different mindset; at that point in time I was focused on travelling for as long as possible, no matter where it meant going. I wanted any possibility to escape the UK. In a way, I think I panicked myself into applying for the visa because I wasn’t sure what else I should do.
4) Moving to Canada now would mean putting my ‘life’ on hold again for another year or two, meaning I achieve the goals I want to achieve.
5) Finally, I realised that I don’t particularly want to work in Canada; I only really want to travel there. Seeing as I can travel in Canada on a regular tourist visa, the IEC would be pointless.
It means losing out on an opportunity. Choosing not to use my IEC visa means I won’t get the chance to apply for this visa again.
It means losing out on money. I will have wasted the £150 or so it cost to apply for the visa, plus the 2 x £50 I paid for my UK Police Certificate.
But it also means I have stopped pressurising myself into making the decision I feel everyone apart from me wants me to make. I have spent a lot of time reflecting on what is the best option for me and I am content that I have found it.
Thanks for reading and happy travels!
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I would like to thank the following people for providing the photos used in this post: Neha from Travel Melodies, Cat Lin from For Two, Please, Ben from Horizon Unknown, Jack from Travelling Stories, Liliane from My Toronto My World and Michelle from The Wandering Queen. The Pin images below were provided by Liliane from My Toronto My World and Cat Lin from For Two, Please. The cover image was provided by Ben from Horizon Unknown.