Change of scene in 2019? Canada has 10,500 working holiday visas for Irish

International Experience Canada 2019 programme is open for 18-35-year-olds

Thinking of a change of scene in 2019? Canada has 10,700 work permits available for young Irish people under the International Experience Canada programme next year, and the application system has just opened.

The IEC programme allows people aged 18 to 35 to work in Canada for up to two years.

Similar to this year, 10,700 IEC visas are available for Irish applicants in 2019, but the breakdown of the different visa types has changed slightly: the quota of working holiday visas has increased to 10,500, while just 150 visas will be for “young professionals” (who must have a job offer related to their qualification before applying), and 50 visas in the “international co-op” category will be allocated to full-time students to take part in internship and work placement programmes.

The working holiday and young professional visas are valid for two years. The international co-op visa is valid for 12 months, but participants can apply for an additional two years on a second IEC visa, meaning they can stay in Canada for three years in total under the IEC.


Ireland is one of approximately 30 countries worldwide that has a reciprocal agreement with Canada to allow young people to live and work there.

How to apply

The application rules changed in 2016, to prevent the prior annual crush for visas among Irish applicants. Under the old system, a quota of visas for Irish citizens was released in one or two rounds each year, on a first-come, first-served basis. Quotas were filled within minutes for several years in a row, leaving disappointed candidates waiting another year before they could apply again.

On arrival in Canada, you must have health insurance, a return flight and proof of C$2,500 in your bank account

Now, applicants for visas can begin the process now by creating an online profileon the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website (, which will then be submitted to a "pool" of candidates if it meets requirements. Applicants are drawn randomly from these pools at "regular intervals", and sent an Invitation to Apply for a work permit. Draws continue until all places are filled for the year.

You will need a scanned copy of the identification page of your passport and an electronic version of your up-to-date curriculum vitae, which must follow the format provided in a template on the IEC website, along with a fee of C$150 (€100). Participants in the working holiday-makers category must also pay an open work permit holder fee of C$100 when submitting an online work permit application through MyCIC.

International Co-op (Internship) participants, including those applying through an employer-specific recognised organisation, do not have to pay any other fees, but your Canadian employer will need to pay the employer compliance fee of C$230, and complete and submit an offer of employment directly to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Visas are processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Successful candidates have a year from the date of issue to enter Canada. On arrival in Canada, you must have health insurance, a return flight or enough money to buy one, and proof of C$2,500 in your bank account.

For the first time this year, applicants will also have to complete a biometric test (photograph and fingerprints) as part of the application process. This can be done at the Canadian Embassy in Dublin. Currently the service is only offered two days per month, but his will increase to five days a week from January 7th. , which currently offers the service two days per month.  See for more information.

Hugo O'Doherty of, an Irish-run information website, said this was not sufficient to cater for all interested Irish applicants, and some were being forced to travel to the Visa Application Centre (VAC) in London, incurring added flight and accommodation costs.

"The Working Holiday  remains extremely popular among Irish applicants, and it's easy to see why," says Hugo O'Doherty of, an Irish-run information website.

“This is a big opportunity for young Irish people. During their year or two in Canada, IEC participants can gain valuable professional experience in an international environment, while also having the opportunity to explore a beautiful country that spans six time zones and is home to some of North America’s most exciting, culturally diverse cities.”

In 2018, demand for Working Holiday work permits was higher among Irish people than for any of the other countries that have a similar agreement with Canada. has a good FAQ document, and a dedicated Facebook forum for IEC applicants. Visa agents cannot guarantee a work permit, or speed up the application process; the onus is still on the applicant to fill out the paperwork themselves, and an agent is not required.

This article was edited on December 17th to update the information on biometric testing services at the embassy in Dublin.