If you are over the age of 18 and considering a working holiday in Canada, you'll need to get a working holiday visa so you can get a job.

How to Get a Canadian Working Holiday Visa in 2021

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Last updated on
March 10, 2021

Getting your hands on a Working Holiday Visa for Canada can be a challenge at the best of times. Certainly, a global pandemic hasn't made this process any easier. Last year, only a few hundred people in some countries received an invitation before the borders were unceremoniously closed.

We don't mean to make light of the situation but let's be honest, we are all over lockdowns! Luckily with vaccines now in play, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it seems as if the Canadian government agree. All this to say that Canada has just announced they are re-opening their working holiday program or IEC (International Experience Canada) as they call it. Visa applications are now open. This is is big news!

That said, due to the dreaded C word there have been some changes for this year. Now, you need a job offer letter to receive an invitation to apply. Luckily for you, we are in the business of setting people up with their first ski or snowboard instructing roles.

Our team is full of trained instructors and snow-lovers who have lived and worked in ski resorts right around the world. Yes, including Canada! Plus, every year we work with over one hundred new instructors heading to Canada to become instructors. So it is fair to say we are very familiar with the process of applying and we'd love to help you get there!

Canadian Working Holiday Visa Application Process

Step One – Work out if you need a working holiday visa.

The first thing you need to do is work out whether you actually need a Canadian Working Holiday visa in the first place. If you are not Canadian or currently living in Canada then the answer to this is probably yes.

Step Two – Check if you are eligible for a working holiday visa.

The next stage is to check if you are eligible for a working holiday visa. There is an official questionnaire available on their site that should give you an indication. If you are confident that you will be eligible, then you can skip this step as they will ask the same questions throughout the application process.

Step Three – Sign up for a GCKey Account.

This is a free online account that lets you log in to access services from the Canadian Government such as visa applications. You can sign up here.

Step Four – Use your GCKey account to register for an IRCC account.

Government agencies love acronyms! IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) may sound imposing, but it is simply the name for the part of the Canadian Government that issues visas to live and work within Canada.

You can register for an account here.

Step Five – Start an application by clicking the Apply to come to Canada link.

This link will take you to a page with two sections. In most cases, you probably won’t have a Personal Reference Code so you should be able to click the International Experience Canada (IEC) button within that section.

start iec application

Step Six – Complete the Eligibility questionnaire and the rest of your profile.  

This is similar to the questionnaire that we mentioned in step two, except this time, your answers are saved to your profile so you can get pre-approval to apply for the Canadian visa pools.

The questions can be a little confusing, so to make things a little easier, we are sharing some example answers for a British Citizen living in England. Obviously these answers are for demonstration purposes and we are not official immigration advisors. You need to complete the forms with your own personal data as appropriate and make sure that you don’t provide any false or misleading information.

So disclaimers out of the way; the example answers are shared below:

canadian visa questionnaire answers

Note: The internship question is one thing that trips people up. As our training courses and internships are not delivered as part of a full university degree, you should be able to safely answer No to this question.

Step Seven – Apply to be added to the Working Holiday Pool of Candidates and Accept the Electronic Declaration to submit your application.

After completing the questionnaire, you should see a section named Application details that shows your eligibility has been approved and provides an option to be submitted to the visa pools.

submit whv application

Make sure that you select Yes within this section and then continue to complete the rest of your profile details. Once you have completed all of these sections, you can click continue to sign the electronic declaration.

complete application

Step Eight – Get a job offer letter and submit it to support your application. (READ THIS!)

Obviously you can’t get a job offer letter without a job which presents a chicken and egg problem. Who is going to give you a job without a visa? Generally speaking, not many companies.

However, don’t lose hope! As we have worked with several ski schools in Canada for up to 15 years, we have an established process for hiring overseas workers with no instructing experience. This is your ticket to that all important job offer letter!

Our Canadian Internship programs provide a paid training course that teaches you everything you need to get started as a ski or snowboard instructor. You then move on to take your Level One CSIA (Canadian Ski Instructors Association) or CASI (Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors) certification. With your certification in hand, you can immediately start teaching people on the mountain.

These Instructor Internship programs were revolutionary when we introduced them and they are still the easiest way to get your start within the snowsports industry. You can start your application for one of our Canadian resorts by completing this form. Once you are accepted, we should be able to provide an offer letter from your chosen resort.

When you have your job offer letter, you will need to send it in to support your visa application. You can find full instructions for sending your job offer here.

Step Nine - Wait… And apply for a police certificate, just in case!

Waiting can sometimes feel like the hardest bit! All applications are put into a pool of applicants. After some time, the Canadian immigration agency will send out a batch of invitations to people from each country. As long as you have completed all of the steps above, including the crucial job offer, you will be more prepared than most!

While you are waiting, you can apply for a police certificate from your home country as you will likely need to supply one of these when you receive an invitation and they can take some time to process.

Step Ten – Apply for a work permit as soon as you receive an invitation.

Technically you have ten days to start your application once you receive an invitation and twenty days to finish it but don’t waste any time! Complete all of the required information and you can also submit any supporting documents such as police certificates now. You will also need to pay an application fee at this stage of around $156 CAD.

Step Eleven – Success!

If all went well, you should receive something called a Port of Entry (PoE) Letter in your IRCC account (you’ll also be notified by email). Let us know, so we can finalise your arrival plans with you and make sure to bring this PoE letter along with your Job Offer Letter and travel insurance documents when you travel to Canada.

How to Get Started Now

It may sound like a lot, but if you’re coming out for a season with us your training consultant will be by your side through the whole process. You can send us a message at any time with questions and we’ll get back to you ASAP. As they say every journey starts with a single step.

If you’re still keen to check out one of our Canadian resorts, make sure you start the process now and apply with us for that all important job offer letter!

Frequently Asked Questions About Canadian Visas

Do I need to apply for an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization) to travel to Canada?

No. When you are granted a Port of Entry Letter for your working holiday visa it also includes an electronic travel authorisation.

Do I need to buy travel insurance?

Yes, absolutely. Not only do you need travel insurance, but it also has to cover the entire time that you plan to spend in Canada. Border officials have been known to check the documentation for this and issue shorter visas if you are not insured for the full length of your proposed visa.

Some popular providers of longer term travel insurance are:

  • Down Under (NZ)
  • Fast Cover (AU)
  • True Traveller (UK)
  • World Nomads (Others)

Will I need to be vaccinated against Covid-19?

Probably not, or at least that does not appear to be the case at this stage. However, some countries do require you to take a Covid test before allowing you to board a flight. These rules change frequently so make sure to check the current travel advisories from your country and Canada before you leave.  

How long do Canadian working holiday visas last?

Typically they last for about one year, however it varies between countries and some such as the United Kingdom can receive visas for up to two years (depends on travel insurance, see above).

What can I do right now to get started?

Complete this form to see if you qualify for one of our programs and let us know you're interested in working in Canada.

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