How to Apply for an IEC Visa

So, you’ve decided you want to give a working holiday in Canada a go and now you’re wondering how to apply for your IEC work permit. The application process can seem a little confusing and daunting at first (I know it did for me), so I’ve detailed my experiences below.

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta | Image credit: David Mark (

What is an IEC visa?

If you’re aged between 18-30 and from a selected country, then you could be eligible to apply for an International Experience Canada work permit. Visit this page to find out if you’re eligible.

This open work permit allows you to live and work in Canada for up to 2 years if you’re from the UK. This may differ for participants from other countries depending on what type of agreement your home country has with Canada.

Toronto, Ontario | Image credit: StockSnap (

Getting started

The best place to start when it comes to beginning your IEC visa process would be at this infographic, which explains how the whole IEC application process works.

I’ve broken this infographic down into a step-by-step guide below. You can find links to all of the resources mentioned at the bottom of this post.


Step 1 – Complete the ‘Come to Canada’ questionnaire

To begin your IEC application, go to the ‘Getting Started’ page, hit the ‘Check your eligibility’ button and begin the questionnaire.

Some useful tips to bear in mind when filling this in:

  • When it asks you which country issued you’re passport, the dropdown selection list is sorted in alphabetical order by the 3 letter code on your passport. For British citizens, this code is GBR (although I recommend double checking your passport first).
  • If you’re from the UK and it asks you what is your country / territory of residence, there’s no option to select United Kingdom. Instead, you’ll have to look for your individual country, eg. England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland.
  • The questionnaire asks you if a particular organisation is helping you to find work. If this is not the case, then you can choose ‘No’ and you’ll still be eligible. You don’t have to have an offer of work, an internship or the help of a particular organisation in order to apply.

Once you’ve completed the questionnaire, if you’re eligible, you’ll receive a reference code. Make a note of this code – you’ll need it for the next step.


Step 2 – Create an account on the CIC (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) website

Create an account on the CIC website. I used the ‘Continue to GCKey’ option, as the ‘Continue to Sign-In Partner’ requires you to have a Canadian bank account.

When you create your account, you’ll see that some of your personal details you entered when completing the questionnaire in Step 1 have been auto-saved. When setting up your account you’ll be asked to enter a few additional details to complete your IEC profile.

Once you’ve filled in you profile, make sure that all of your information is correct, then submit your profile. If the CIC decide that your profile is definitely eligible then you’ll receive a confirmation message in your account and you’ll be added to the pool of applicants.


Step 3 – Hang tight and wait for your Invitation to Apply (ITA)

Now it’s time to play the waiting game! There’s not much you can do at this stage other than to keep checking your emails regularly. You’ll get an email notifying you of any new messages in your CIC account.

CIC will send out rounds of invitations to candidates in the pool at random intervals throughout the year. If you receive an ITA, you’ll have 10 days to accept it and start your application.


Step 4 – Complete your application, submit all your required docs and pay the IEC fee

Once you hit the ‘Start your application’ button, you’ll then have 20 days from that date to submit your application (including all supporting documents and the IEC fee).

The documents you need are:

  • Police certificate (for UK participants, you can order your ACRO certificate here. As of August 2017 it costs £45 for the standard 10 working day service or £80 for the premium 2 working day service.)
  • CV / Résumé
  • Passport
  • Digital photo
  • Family information form
  • Visitor visa application (depending on your country of citizenship)
  • Medical exams (if you have travelled to specific countries in the last six months or you plan to work in a specific profession)
  • If you are an International Co-op (Internship) applicant, an applicant using a Recognized Organization or a French VIE applicant, you will need to submit additional documents

You can view the full documents checklist here, under the ‘2. Get all the documents you need’ section. Your CIC profile should also have a personalised documents checklist so you can see what you need to submit for your individual application.

Once you have all of your documents together, you’ll then need to pay the IEC fees. For the 2017 season the IEC participant fee was CAN $126 and the work permit fee was CAN $100. This may change so keep checking the IEC homepage for the most up-to-date info.

Note on police certificates and medical exams: don’t panic if you don’t receive either of these before the submission deadline! As long as you submit proof that you’ve requested these, your application will not be affected. This is mentioned at the bottom of this page in section 4.


Step 5 – Wait for your application to be processed

Now you just have to be patient and wait for your application to be processed! Keep checking your emails regularly to see if there are any updates in your account.

If your application is accepted, you’ll receive a letter of introduction (LOI) in your account. This letter is also referred to as a Port of Entry (POE) Introduction Letter and this is the document that you need to show to an Immigration Officer when entering Canada. You will have exactly one year to enter Canada on your IEC work permit from the date that your LOI / POE letter is issued – this entry deadline will be stated on your letter.

Before you enter Canada, you’ll also need to make sure that you have the equivalent of at least CAN $2,500 in your bank account. You’ll need to take proof of these funds to Canada to show the Immigration Officer at the airport.

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver, British Columbia | Image credit: skeeze (

What are my chances of getting an IEC visa?

For some countries, such as the UK, there are a set number of IEC work permits available each year. In 2017, the quote was initially 5,000, but this was extended to 7,000 in July.

If you submit your profile to the pool before the first round of invitations begin (which is usually around November / December each year), then you’ll have a higher chance of getting your work permit, providing all of the information on your profile is filled in correctly. As the year goes on, the chances of you getting a work permit decrease. As of 28th August 2017, there are only 141 work permits left for UK candidates.

You can check your country’s IEC visa quotas here. This page will also tell you when the pools are opened and closed (these dates vary from one year to the next).

My advice is to get your profile submitted as soon as the pool opens. If you don’t get an Invitation to Apply, then don’t be put out – keep trying!


Useful links:


If you have any questions about this process, I’ll do my best to answer them (or at least point you in the right direction). Alternatively, if you’ve gone through the IEC application process and you have any advice to share, then feel free to let me know in the comments below!


What do I plan to do once I’m in Canada? Check out my Bucket List!


2 thoughts on “How to Apply for an IEC Visa

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s