My 2018 Canada Working Holiday Visa was approved, BUT I’m not going…

22nd October 2018

Moving to Canada. What a dream…

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.

2018 Canada Working Holiday Visa - - 7

Moraine Lake by Jack at Travelling Stories

Who is eligible for the Canada IEC?

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.

2018 Canada Working Holiday Visa -

Quebec by Cat Lin from For Two, Please

How to apply for the Canada IEC

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!

A very basic how to guide is as follows:

  1. Complete the ‘Come to Canada‘ questionnaire. This will confirm whether you are eligible for the visa. You will be given a personal reference code if you are.
  2. Use your personal reference code to create an account.
  3. Build your IEC profile.
  4. Submit your profile and choose the IEC pool you want to be in – there’s one for each nationality.
  5. Wait, wait and wait some more. You need to receive an Invitation to Apply before you can progress to actually apply for your work permit. Some people receive an Invitation to Apply after a few weeks, others not at all. It depends on how many people are in your ‘pool’.
  6. Assuming you do get an Invitation to Apply, you then have 10 day’s to accept the invitation (or decline if you wish).
  7. Once you click the Start Application button, you have 20 days to apply for the work permit and pay the fee.
  8. Within this 20 days, you need to fill in all the requested information in the questionnaires and submit any requested documents, such as medical and police certificates. If they don’t arrive within 20 days, you can upload proof that you’ve applied for them and upload them when you have them.
  9. Pay your fees. To get a Working Holiday Visa in Canada, it will be necessary to pay a participation fee of CAD$150, and an open work permit holder fee of CAD$100. This is about £147 GBP at the time of writing.
  10. Submit your application, and then wait. You might be asked to supply more information or additional documents.
  11. If you are successful, a Letter of Introduction will be sent to your IEC account, which you need to take with you to Canada in order to be provided with a work permit.
2018 Canada Working Holiday Visa -

Banff by Michelle from The Wandering Queen

What is the chance your visa will be approved?

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!

2018 Canada IEC Working Holiday Visa -

Tombstone National Park by Ben at Horizon Unknown

Call me batshit crazy, but I have decided not to go to Canada on the IEC

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?

Actually, I actually have a few reasons for deciding against going.

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.

What does not going mean?

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.

2018 Canada Working Holiday Visa -

Montreal by Neha at Travel Melodies

Have you applied for the Canada IEC Visa? What do you think of my deciding not to go? Have you ever decided to turn down an opportunity like this?

Thanks for reading and happy travels!

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on them and purchase something from the linked site, I’ll earn a tiny (and I mean tiny!) commission at no extra cost to you, which contributes to running this blog.

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.

Looking for somewhere to stay in Canada?

Enjoyed this post? Pin it for later!

2018 Canada Working Holiday Visa -

2018 Canada Working Holiday Visa -

7 responses to “My 2018 Canada Working Holiday Visa was approved, BUT I’m not going…”

  1. josypheen says:

    It sounds like you’ve thought about it carefully and made the right decision for you. I wouldn’t worry about missing out on the opportunity. If you really want to move to Canada one day, you’ll find another way.

    I always meant to apply for Working Holiday Visas while I was young enough to do it (Oops…I missed that boat!) In the end, my husband and moved to Canada on normal work visas (though his work.) I blooming LOVE it here, but I found a good job, and I’m making the most of the opportunities to go hiking and skiing. If I had a better job in the UK, I would have found it *faaar* harder to leave.

  2. I respect this decision so much! I’m from Canada and living in NZ right now. But I’ve been on the road for almost two years now and I totally understand getting sick of temporary jobs. You tend to feel so stagnant, and the comes the stress of knowing you can’t, and don’t want to actually live this way forever.
    Best of luck pursuing your career and your property! Hit me up if you need any ideas for Canada when you do make it over there! ✨

  3. Helina says:

    I defeinetly understand your decision , not going to Canada.. I actually applied for it start of this year, I got the invitaion quite quickly even though I didnt expect it at all. Basically it was my plan B in case I dont get into the Uni I wanted to.. so months pass by and I get accepted to this Uni. Now I kinda regeret having applied for the WHV because it will get wasted. There is only one thing I need to submit which is the Drivers History report from Victoria, Australia.. do you might know if I can apply again when my application gets refused? I am assuming not, idk what to do… I havent got the report either so. I would just like to stop the application process .

    • Hey Helina thanks for your comment. To be honest I’m not sure if you can apply again, I believe you can do if it’s refused, but I’m not totally sure. There’s a facebook group for the Canada Working Holiday visa, search for it and ask there – someone may be able to help you! 🙂

  4. John says:

    “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!”

    Is this true? It’s been nearly 2 weeks wait.

    • Hi John, thanks for your comment. When I applied for my NZ WHV in April 2015 it was certainly emailed to me within the next hour. Things may have changed since then but as far as I am aware the process of applying is still the same as it was in 2015. I applied for the 12 month visa so didn’t need to submit medical info which is required for the extension/23 month visa – this could cause a delay I suppose. If you are worried, I suggest contacting the embassy. Hope it is approved soon!

  5. vetipy says:

    Well, I’m kinda in this situation too, but now I think I’m more prone to take it.

    I’ve applied for the working visa two years ago, when I left my ex-gf and I was looking for a new house, a new job, etc,.. They didn’t gave me, so I applied the next year, although I’ve already found a new job and house in my city.
    Then they approved my Visa several months ago and I waited to see how the now job goes, and to save some money for Canada.

    However now I’m quite accomodate. What I have right now is also unique. Got a job in a very flexible company and a cool house in an amazing location at a good price…. The problem is, both the job and the house is also temporary, and both will be end by the next year sooo… I think I’m more proned to go to Canada right now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


I’m a travel-loving sustainability advocate, on a journey to live a low-impact lifestyle alongside seeing the world. I’m obsessed with my two dogs, secondhand shopping, and growing vegetables.