The working holiday is an international program that allows young citizens from a number of different countries to work in select countries without a pre-organised job offer. One of the countries that young Australian’s can work in is Canada with an open work permit for 2 years. You can apply for this visa independently or with the assistance of a third party. This post is all about how to apply for it yourself.

[] is my experience in October 2015


At a park in Maple Ridge as an aupair
  • Must be 18-35 years old
  • There are an unlimited number of spots for Australians
  • Make sure to check the deadlines
  • Valid for 24 months – 2x 12 month work permits
  • No work offer needed
  • No maximum work hours
  • Open Work Permit, restrictions apply
  • Can’t work in home environment or with children
  • Need to get a medical exam to lift restrictions


Vancouver Beach

Part 1 – Apply for ‘Conditional Acceptance Letter’

[CAD$150 – 4 days]

  1. Register for Kompass Account on Canadian government website
  2. Complete ‘International Experience Canada’ (IEC) application & attach
  3. Prepare resume (in their format) & attach
  4. Pay IEC fee [CAD $150]
  5. Receive confirmation [1 day]
  6. Receive Conditional Acceptance Letter (CAL) [3 days]

This letter DOES NOT guarantee a work permit. It is conditional based on your work permit application and the judgment of the immigration office at the Canadian border.

Part 2 – Apply for a Police Check 

[Queensland = AUD$45 – 5 days]

  1. Submit application provided on the Queensland Government Website – Requesting a ‘Name Check’
  2. It states a traffic check is need but it I submitted one without one and it wasn’t required from the Canadian embassy.
  3. Receive confirmation in 7-10 working days [5 days]

Part 3 – Complete Medical exam if necessary

[Vancouver = CAD$255 – 65mins]

  1. Medical exam must be completed before applying for work permit, otherwise you have to apply for a whole new work permit and pay again to have it added
  2. Choose a physician from the approved list that is in the best location and price for you and set an appointment [I called Monday morning and set an appointment for Wednesday morning at 11:30am]
  3. At the appointment you will be required to have a general check-up, x-ray, blood and urine sample [The whole process took about 65minutes]
  4. The first stop will be the doctor’s office and need to check-in with passport and work permit.
  5. Sign declaration
  6. Pay fee [CAD$200, cash only OR Los Angeles = USD$375 / Phoenix = USD$500 / Brisbane = AUD$550]
  7. Take a passport-style photo
  8. They enter you into the e-medical system
  9. Urine sample
  10. Nurse takes height and weight measurements
  11. Physical examination – strip down to underwear, they give you some paper type stuff in strips to cover that area as well, the nurse also accompanied the doctor in the room. Doctor comes in for 2 minutes. Checks heart rate, blood pressure, asks if pregnant, any medication
  12. Blood test by Nurse
  13. They hand you all the paperwork and guide you to the x-ray office
  14. Once at x-ray office hand over paperwork from doctor office
  15. Pay fee [CAD$55 (cash or card)]
  16. Strip off all clothing/jewellery above the waist and they give you a cover thing to wear.
  17. Deep breath and x-rayed
  18. Takes 5-10 days for them to upload information (they will call/email if anything is abnormal), CIC then processes the information, then need to send emedical form to visa officer for them to update the work permit (she suggested after 2 weeks)

[I went for my medical exam in Vancouver after receiving my work permit. Staff were very informative, knowledgeable and caring. Doctor didnt say much or smile but he had probably been doing the same thing all day and only interacted for a minute. X-Ray staff were professional, not super friendly, but very efficient.]

  • Doctor’s Office Doctor’s Office = 11:30am-12:20pm @
  • X-ray office = 12:25pm – 12:35pm @ Office 888 – about 3 min walk down willow st and then first left on 8th ave – room is on the first floor at the end on the left

Part 4 – Apply for Work Permit

[CAD$100+ – 5 days]

  1. Register for G-Key
  2. Attach Conditional Acceptance Letter (CAL)
  3. Complete application & attach –        If completing electronically don’t need to sign, just validate, will provide an electronic ‘signature’ when submit complete application
  4. Attach resume
  5. Attach Photo of Passport
  6. Attach police check
  7. Prepare Digital Passport-style Photo (meet their standards) & attach
  8. Complete Family Form & attach
  9. Take a Medical Exam if required. You can submit confirmation at this time or select the option that you will be taking it later and receive your work permit without it.
  10. Pay Work Permit fee [CAD$100]
  11. Receive confirmation later [5 days]

You will receive a confirmation letter to say you have applied for your work permit. This is NOT your actual work permit. You must take this letter, your travel insurance, passport and all other related documents to the immigration officer at the border where they will approve or decline your work permit.


Waterfall at Maple Ridge

After you have received your work permit letter it’s time to head to Canada. This is the final and official step to receive your work permit after speaking with an immigration officer.

Part 5 – Speak with an immigration officer

[1.75 – 2 hours]

  1. Book flight to Vancouver International Airport
  2. Line up at border control _[Wait about 30mins]_
  3. Speak with officer. Tell them you have a work permit.
  4. They will point you in a direction to the visa processing area, behind the booths to the right. There is an information desk and overhead signs that say: New Foreign Workers, New work permit, New students.
  5. Collect baggage. Leave baggage at the information desk (they prefer no BIG bags in the waiting area)
  6. Take a seat in the waiting area and wait for an officer to call you forward. [Wait 1hr15min]
  7. The officer asked for my passport, work permit and to see my travel insurance [1-2mins]
  8. Once giving them these documents, they asked me to take a seat again while they processed the information [Wait 2-3mins]
  9. Officer called me up again, gave me back my documents and handed my work permit.
  10. Leave the airport and start looking for work!


Botanical gardens at Vancouver Island

Although there are unlimited spots the invitation pools only open at certain times of the year. These change constantly. It is best to get your application in as soon as possible and wait to get the Invitation Letter. Once you have started the application, the recommended time is 4-8 weeks.

[Overall my application took 2 weeks. From hearing others experience this is extremely quick so it just depends when you are applying, how many other people are applying and if there are any setbacks in your application (i.e. criminal records or incorrect forms)]


Graffiti on side of breakwater wall on Vancouver Island

Whilst I was able to successfully apply for the Canadian visa this was not the first time I had applied for a visa. Applying with a third party greatly increases your chances of getting the visa. If you don’t complete the application exactly right you don’t get your money back and it can be just a simple mistake. Third parties are often able to assist with accommodation, setup and job assistance.

The application process is all online and as don’t need a sponsor i.e. job to apply you can definately do it all yourself. Please make sure you do the appropriate research and read all of the forms and instructions carefully. Having an external company to help you along the way is definately a bonus and there are plenty out there. Be prepared to pay a fee but know that you have a much higher chance of being successful and most give great advice for how to get a job and get on your feet once you are there.

One of these companies are IEP. You can select to just get help with visa or also get a pre-arranged job in the winter or summer season.


Big tree at Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island
  • Dependents? No

  • Partner? Yes – This can be a married or common law partner (must have proof that you have been living together for at least 1 year). Their work permit will have the same expiry as yours. To apply you must fill out …. Application, provide proof of relationship and a signed declaration from a justice of the peace. The application is then sent to the Canadian government to amend. It is best to add the partner at the time of applying for the original permit to avoid long wait time and added cost. [It was 2 months before I heard anything from the Canadian Government]


National Park in Maple Ridge

From my research and what was stated on the Canadian Government website I thought it would be simple to get my medical exam once I had entered Canada (much cheaper) and then simply add it to my work permit. I was wrong. The application to ‘Amend the work permit’ must be sent to the Canadian Government in Ottawa and the work permit fee must be paid AGAIN as they are technically issuing a new work permit. So even though it is more expensive outside of Canada if you are going to be working with children or in people’s home, get it before you go! Or you can go through this process if you have already arrived and now want a job that requires a work permit.


Lookout on Bowen Island near Vancouver

Yes the cost is $150 CAD.



Bridge at Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island

For young Americans there are a couple of options to be able to work in Canada without a working visa and job offer. The alternate option is only available to those who are or have been a full-time student in the last year. The visa must be applied for through an external company. There are 4 main companies who assist with this visa.


  • 12 months open work permit
  • 8 to 10 weeks to process
  • $150CAD IEC fee
  • $100CAD work permit fee
  • Full-time student or recent graduate within a year
  • Must be a US citizen
  • Aged from 18 to 30
  • No criminal record
  • No dependants
  • Must be outside of Canada during application
  • Can apply anytime during the year
  • Must have proof of travel insurance
  • Show proof of $2500CAD funds


  • Must be a full-time student in the last year
  • $350USD program fee
  • Determine eligibility within 3 days


  • $395USD program fee
  • Maybe within year only for nongraduate, check CIC


  • $350USD program fee

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