Work and travel: International Experience Canada

What is it?

This program allows youth -18 to 35 years of age- to get a multiple entry visa valid for a year to enter Canada, along with an open work permit. There are three categories in the program, “Working Holiday”, “Young Professionals” and “International Co-op”.  For any of the programs there is a US$150 application fee.

How to get the visa?

You can apply for it at the Canadian embassy in your country.

The Canadian Embassy is VERY thorough when reviewing papers, it takes 8 to 12 weeks to complete the process, but if there is anything wrong with your application you have to go get it, fix whatever is wrong, and submit again , starting from week 0 . The program offers a certain number of spots per category and works on a first arrive first serve basis. So before submitting your papers, make sure that everything is PERFECT.

What does an “open work permit” mean?
The open work permit allows you to enter Canada and find a job once you are there. The most common fields to find jobs are tourism and hospitality.

How to get a job?
If you feel like you need to secure a job prior to your arrival in Canada, there are many agencies that help you by contacting an employer that will guarantee a job for you. This is usually the case for ski resorts during the winter season, were you can work as lift operators, snowboard instructors, etc.
Keep in mind that for this service you have to pay the agency a –very high- fee, which does not include anything more than their assistance. Air tickets, insurance and lodging are on you.
If you are more daring you can search for job postings online once you have arrived in Canada and do it the old school way by going to a bunch of interviews until you get hired.

Upon your arrival…
At the Canadian airport your passport, visa and letter of introduction will be reviewed and an open work permit will be stamped on it by the Border Service Officer. Make sure you get health care insurance for the duration of your stay or else you could be refused entry.
You will also need a Social Insurance Number (SIN card), which you apply for at any Service Canada Centre. It’s a very simple and quick process, the card will be mailed to you shortly after you apply, but your SIN will be provided right away. This is basically all you need to start looking for a job. Oh and a bank account for all that cash you’ll be raking in :p

My experience.
I applied for the Working Holiday program in 2011 with two friends but we weren’t willing to pay an agency. So we took it upon ourselves to call ski resorts around Toronto.
After a few calls to different places we got lucky and got a chance for a Skype interview with the HR department from Blue Mountain Ski Resort.

But because we all had issues with our visa papers, we ended up getting them at different times. I got my visa around 9 weeks after submitting the papers the second time, and left in early December to Toronto.

I decided to stay in Toronto, and look for a job by myself in the city.
I only got a job in Jan, but that’s because I wasn’t trying hard enough until I realized I was going to be broke soon. So I hustled, got on craigslist every day and applied to various jobs. After 2 interviews, one as a door to door sales person, and one as a telemarketer, the third time was the charm that got me a job at Canadian famous coffee chain Tim Horton’s. There literally is one in every single corner in Toronto. Working at Timmy’s was a tiring but fun experience, most of my co-workers were foreigners too, Chinese, Irish and British, a cool mix of people. The pay was minimum wage CAD$ 10.25 an hour.
I returned to Chile by late March, after a great 4 months experience in a city that I just fell in love with.
The IEC is a great opportunity, if I could’ve stayed for the whole year I would have done so, but I had to get back to my studies. If you can stay for the year, I suggest working your bum off during the winter and taking a little vaca during the amazing summer to travel around and explore!

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One thought on “Work and travel: International Experience Canada

  1. Pingback: 2014 recap | RESTLESS FOOTPRINTS

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