Updated: Oct 2, 2022
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If you're wondering what a Working holiday program is and how it can help you get out of your comfort zone and enjoy the world out there, this information will be helpful for you.
In this post, I'm going to explain to you in simple words what this program is, what are the requirements you must meet to participate, and common questions about this program.
I explain this based on my experience since I came to Canada with this program so I have gone through the process.
I leave here the story of how my process went, and in the table of contents below, you can find answers to your specific questions.
Table of contents
In 2019, I was facing a stressful year at my job and felt that having a salary was not enough to be happy.
I started looking for information on how to travel for a period of time, and at the same time, I had some examples of people I knew who were abroad enjoying life.
Our first choice was not Canada. At that time, I was 29 years old, and my boyfriend was 34. We checked the information and our country (Chile) only had 3 Working Holiday agreements that allowed people between 18-35 years old to apply: New Zealand, Canada and Hungary.
The rest only included people between 18-30 years old, and my boyfriend would not be eligible.
So we did further research and found out that for New Zealand October 9, 2019 was the day everyone had to apply. The system was different than Canada's, but long story short, we couldn't get a spot on that visa. I filled out all the information, but when I hit the button to pay for the visa, the internet crashed, and I couldn't get it. Aldo couldn't even open the home page. Well, people say everything happens for a reason, right?
The next day, talking about resilience, I started reading about the Hungarian and Canadian processes. We learned that Canada was launching 2020 in December 2019, so we learned how to create our profiles, and on December 12, 2019, we created them.
We were both in the pool of participants, but it is essential to mention that this program is for individual applicants and the selection is random. So it's not just creating your profile; you have to have some luck.
On January 20, 2020, I received an email saying I had a new message in my account, and I got it! I had an invitation to apply. I cried, but in this case, because I was so happy and excited.
Maybe right now you feel like I did in 2019, or you are just curious to explore the world and know what options you have.
That's why I will give you an overview of what the Working Holiday program is all about and help you understand if you are likely to apply for and use this program or another similar program.
So, let's dive right in!
1. What is a working holiday program?
In simple terms, a working holiday program is an agreement between two countries that allows people who meet specific requirements to work and travel for a certain period of time.
The intention is to have a cultural exchange, learn new things, travel and finance that travel with the work you get.
2. Who can apply for a working holiday program?
This will depend entirely on the agreement between countries, but the first requirements to check are age and country of citizenship.
I have compiled the information related to Working Holiday Canada, so I invite you to review the following table. Usually, the age range is between 18-29 years old, 18-30 years old or 18-35 years old.
It should be noted that I captured this information at the beginning of 2022, so I suggest you check the official website of Canada.ca, where you can find the most updated information.
3. Do I need anything specific to apply?
In general, you have to be a citizen of the country indicated in point 2.
The only document you need to have on hand to create your profile is a valid passport with an expiration date that allows you to live in Canada for the duration of your work permit.
4. If I apply, am I guaranteed a work permit?
Unfortunately, no, you are not guaranteed it. You create a profile with your passport information when the application period opens. With this you enter a pool of participants, then Canada sends out random invitations; if you receive the invitation, then you apply for the work permit.
Once you receive the invitation, you have to gather a series of documents requested there, submit them all, pay the fees and wait for a response. I explain all this process in this post How to apply for a Working Holiday
If you are approved, you will receive a letter allowing you to travel and receive your work permit at the airport of entry to Canada! Yey!
5. Is this program free of charge?
The profile creation is free, but once you are the lucky person who receives an invitation to apply and submit your documents for review, you will have to pay the fees.
In this case, the fees are the open work permit holder (100 CAD) and the IEC participation fee (156 CAD) for the period of 2022. This adds up to CAD 256.
In addition, during the processing of your application, you will be asked to give your biometric data, which means that you have to go to a special place where your photo is taken and your fingerprints are scanned; this is done by an institution authorized by Canada.
The cost of the biometric data is about 85 CAD. These biometrics are valid for ten years, so if you apply for a second working holiday or any other type of permit, you will not have to pay for the biometrics again.
6. What do I need to know if I receive the Port of Entry (POE) letter?
Once you have received the invitation and completed the steps indicated in this post, everything went well, and your application was approved.
Then, you will receive a Port of Entry letter (POE letter) that allows you to travel to Canada and obtain your work permit at the border.
You should note the following:
You have one year from receiving the POE letter to enter Canada and activate your work permit.
You must prove that you have 2500 CAD to live on for the first few months.
You must have travel insurance to protect you during your stay in Canada.
You cannot travel to Canada with dependents under this work permit.
The decision to issue you the work permit rests with the border officer if they consider that you meet all the requirements.
7. How long is a working holiday in Canada?
It depends on the country; generally, you can work from 6 months to 2 years. See below the time I have compiled for you.
8. Is it the same as the International Experience Canada program?
For Canada, all programs where young people can travel and work are grouped under the International Experience Canada program.
Under this umbrella and depending on the country, you can find one, two, or three categories:
Each category has different requirements to participate, i.e. for Young professionals, you need a job offer to apply, and you receive a closed work permit that allows you to work only for that company in that specific position.
For Co-op, you must be a student applying for a Co-op period outside your country.
For Working Holiday, you have access to an open work permit that allows you to work with any employer and even change employers if necessary.
9. Can I apply for a Working Holiday without knowing English or French?
Yes, you can. Although you will need at least a basic knowledge of English or French to understand the information on the official website.
So far, there is no requirement associated with knowing English or French to apply for the program, but I recommend you to practice a bit; you can use platforms like Italki (that I personally used) to improve your skills in English.
10. What type of jobs can I have?
Normally, I have seen temporary jobs such as picker, waiter, cleaner, dishwasher, etc.
But you can also get a professional job. In my case, I came as a quality control specialist for a pharmaceutical company, and I had no problem.
The important thing is to inform your employer that your work permit is only for a limited time.
You can have any job you can get with the limitations of your work permit. You cannot work in childcare, primary/ secondary school, and health service field occupations unless you have presented a medical certificate during your application.
If that is your work intention, enter the information on your application.
All this information is printed on the work permit you receive at the border.
11. Do I need to prove my level of English or French?
As I mentioned in point 9. So far, there is no requirement to know English or French, and you don't need any kind of proof to demonstrate your English/French proficiency under this program.
But, I would like to point out that the job you can get will depend on your level of English or French. If you can speak in an interview and explain yourself in the language, you will have a better chance of getting a more technical job.
I recommend the platform Italki to practice.
12. Can I travel with my children?
You cannot take your children or spouse as dependents on your working holiday, but they can apply for a visitor or work visa when they travel with you.
You can find more accurate information here
13. Where can I live with a Working Holiday in Canada?
This work permit is not tied to a location, so you can go anywhere you choose in Canada.
You can find more information on choosing the best place for you in Canada at this post.
14. Can I travel with my pet on a Working Holiday?
Yes, you can. You can find more information in this post about how to travel with your cat, if it is the case.
You can also check what you need to settle with your pet in Canada.
15. Do I need a degree to apply for a Working Holiday?
In most countries, there are no requirements regarding degrees.
Only for Mexico, you need to be a student.
16. Do I need to hire an agency to apply for a working holiday?
No, all the information is on Canada.ca, and you can also find blogs like this one with people who have already applied to the process.
If you have already received the invitation, I invite you to review this post, where I explain the steps to follow after receiving the invitation.
If this is extremely difficult for you, you can hire someone, but the process is still random, and maybe you will spend money to create your profile, and you will not get the invitation.
17. How can I create a profile?
After reading this post, I hope you feel motivated and want to create a profile on the official website.
For more information, visit the post How to create a profile for a Working Holiday.
Make sure you enter your information on the official site; no site can assure you that you will receive an invitation, and you don't have to pay to create a profile. Don't fall for scams. Unfortunately, there are some.
If you are the lucky person who receives an invitation, check out this post with all the steps you need to know.
I hope this article has shed some light on how a working holiday program works, and I encourage you to create your profile to increase your chances of being selected in the random rounds of invitations Canada sends out. This stage is free, so why not?
Maybe this is the push you are waiting for to get out of your cozy comfort zone and try new adventures; I recommend it.
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