Want to go to Canada on a working holiday visa in 2017?

Strong interest in IEC programme from Irish applicants this year so far

Visit Canada on a working holiday visa and see  Moraine Lake and the snow-covered Rocky Mountain peaks in  Banff National Park, Alberta. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Visit Canada on a working holiday visa and see Moraine Lake and the snow-covered Rocky Mountain peaks in Banff National Park, Alberta. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto


The smiley face on the website says it all. Canada is open to travellers, specifically young Irish ones looking to spend up to two years there on a working holiday.

“Chance of receiving an invitation in the next round. . . excellent,” the text accompanying the smiley says.

Of the 7,700 such visas allocated to Irish working holiday makers for 2017, 5,418 invitations to apply for the visa have been issued so far, indicating strong interest this year. 

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly reported that more than 5,000 working holiday visas for Canada had already been issued to Irish applicants this year. These were invitations to apply, not actual visas. A statement received from the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on April 13th states that “IEC still has 3,682 spots available out of this year’s 7,700 spots for Irish youth under the Working Holiday category. Chances of an Irish youth receiving an invitation continue to be excellent.”

Once you send in an application after receiving the invitation, processing takes about eight weeks, according to the government’s immigration and citizenship department.

By the end of March, 5,418 invitations had been issued to Irish people and a further 1,794 had applied, according to the International Experience Canada(IEC) page on the government’s website.

In 2014 and 2015, the quota for Irish applicants was fully subscribed in minutes.

"We have certainly had an increase this year regarding the IEC," said Cathy Murphy, executive director at the Irish Canadian Immigration Centre in Toronto. 

The IEC programme allows Irish people between the age of 18 and 35 to live and work in Canada for up to two years. Applicants must have a passport that is valid for the duration of their stay, health insurance and a clean criminal record. They must also have money to support themselves in the form of C$2,500 (€2,450) in a bank account on arrival.

A total of 10,700 visas are offered to Irish applicants under the IEC for 2017, 7,700 of which are for working holidays. A further 2,500 are available through the “young professionals” (YP) stream for those with a job offer, and 500 through the “international co-op” (IC) stream for interns. Very few visas have been allocated so far this year in the YP and IC streams, so if you don’t manage to get a working holiday visa, you could consider applying for one of these. Find out more about the streams at cic.gc.ca/english/work/iec/eligibility.asp.


Before you can apply for an IEC visa, you need to register your interest. Invitations are then issued. If accepted for a particular stream, you have only 10 days to accept or reject the offer before it expires.

Once you accept your invitation from IEC, you must get your work permit documentation submitted and pay the required immigration fees.

After reviewing your application, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), which is in the process of rebranding to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), may request more documents. If your application is approved, you will be sent a letter of introduction (LOI) which you need to present to immigration when entering the country in order to be granted the work permit.

For a full explanation of the how the Canadian system works, take a look at The Irish Times’s guide to applying for visas or citzenship.

Irish-run information website Moving2Canada.com has a good FAQ document, and a dedicated Facebook forum for IEC applicants.