How To Apply For A Canadian Working Holiday Visa – IEC 2020

December 1, 2019
Posted in How To Guide, Working Holiday

IMPORTANT UPDATE (March 20th, 2020): Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Government of Canada has announced that all-in Canada biometrics appointments are cancelled until further notice.

If you had already booked an appointment within Canada to complete your Biometrics for your International Experience Canada work permit application, you must have already received an email showing a cancellation with the appointment booked. No worries, this is only due to the COVID -19 situation worldwide. Your work permit application will NOT be denied if you can not complete the Biometrics within the regular 30 days, Canada is providing extra time to complete this step.

You will have to book a new appointment at Service Canada when they start collecting biometrics again (this date will be announced). Walk-in biometrics collection is currently NOT available at any Service Canada office.

You now have 90 days (instead of 30) to submit your biometrics for your Working Holiday, Young Professional or International Co-Op work permit application under IEC, for regular participants and for our Recognized Organization participants.

IMPORTANT: If you have an appointment OUTSIDE OF CANADA, at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) or a United States Application Support Center (ASC), check the VAC website or the ASC website and call them before you go.

Please follow the recommendations of the Government of Canada here.

International Experience Canada is back this year with the invitation process for all candidates who show their interest in applying for an open work permit for their Canadian working holiday. If you’re looking ahead to the IEC 2020 season, this post will be useful when you apply, so stay informed about any updates we will help prepare you for when it comes!

From Stepwest, we needed to be sure we create valuable content for everyone who is interested in applying for their Canadian Working Holiday, as we did in previous year. We will update this post to inform you of any new changes to the IEC process this year. A reminder that IEC 2020 season opens on December 9, 2019 at 9:00 EST, so if you’re planning to apply for your work permit this year, get ready to create your IEC profile!

CIC has now implemented biometrics into their process, so if you’re familiar with the regular application process head to STEP 6 to learn more, but if you’re new, then keep reading for our step-by-step guide on how to apply!

How To Apply For A Working Holiday Visa Through IEC 2020

PART 1 – Create your IEC Profile to be a part of the Pool of candidates of your country of citizenship! Once IEC season starts with their round of invitations, if you are one of the lucky ones, you will be invited to start your work permit application!

PART 2 – Getting your Invitation to Apply (ITA) in your My CIC account and applying for a work permit via MyCIC.

As we mentioned before, this year you won’t need to hurry to secure your spot when the working holiday visas are released for your country. However, you need to create your online IEC Profile as soon as possible, so you can be sure that when IEC 2020 starts its rounds of invitations you are already a part of the pool of candidates to pick from. This year, you won’t be able to do much more than to wait for your ITA, but in any case we would like to share with you how to do every single step of your application to be a part of the IEC 2020 pool. That way, we can hopefully save you some time during the entire process!



1- Answer “Come to Canada” Questionnaire
2- Create your My CIC Account
3- Create & Complete your IEC Profile (IEC Pool)
4- Receive your Invitation to Apply (ITA)
5- Accept Invitation & Apply  for your work permit 
6- Get your Biometrics Taken
7- Receive your POE (Port of Entry)

STEP 1- Answer “Come to Canada” Questionnaire

First you must determine your eligibility by using the online tool, Come to Canada, to see if you meet the criteria in order to participate in International Experience Canada 2020.

We know there are a lot of potential candidates already in Canada with other types of visas, like students, applying from Canada. In that case, be sure you read carefully the questions, since you will find:

  • What is your current country/territory of residence? If you are presently in Canada, you should select Canada.
  • What is your country/territory of permanent residence? Here you should select your country of citizenship of your passport

Applying for different categories under International Experience Canada.

If you are already registered in any of our Working Holiday Programs and are just waiting for your work permit, you will come to Canada with your job secured from your home country. But in any case, be sure you answer “NO” to the question:

  • Do you have a signed offer letter, contract of employment, or internship agreement from an employer in Canada?

This question is aimed for those applicants who would like to go for International Co-Op or Young Professional categories. If you would like to apply for more than one category under IEC, you can select “YES” in that previous question, and this will add you to the pool of  Young Professional and International Co-Op (If you select “Yes” to the question “Do you plan to do a work placement or internship in Canada as part of your studies?” and “Are you registered at a College or University in your country of citizenship?”).

Applying for more than one category is totally fine, just take into account that you will receive just one invitation for one category first, and you will not be invited to the other categories unless you decline the previous invitation, or your work permit for the first category that you were invited to is rejected.

Take into account that when you decline an Invitation you will still remain in the IEC Pool for your country and you can receive an invitation for the same or another category.

When you get to the end of the questionnaire, a “personal reference code” will show on screen and you will need to write this down or take a screen shot, because you will need to use it to create your profile in the next step.

Depending on your eligibility, which is determined by the “Come to Canada” questionnaire, you may be able to enter one or more pools.


STEP 2- Create your My CIC Account

If you are eligible, after your receive your Personal Reference Code from the Come to Canada tool, you will be directed to complete and submit an IEC online profile. There is no fee required at this step of the process and you will need to create or register a MyCIC Account. You will be able to find the link right below your Personal Reference Code, in the Step 3, as shown in the picture below.

Captura de pantalla 2015-12-06 a la(s) 10.38.03

Click here to create your MyCIC account so you can complete your application for a Work Permit. You must create it with a GC Key.

Create your User Name, remember that it must contain between 8 and 16 characters, no special characters allowed (for example: %”$) and may contain up to 7 digits.  You will also need to create your Password, which also needs to be between 8 and 16 characters, contain at least one upper case letter, one lower case letter and one digit, and must not contain 3 or more consecutive characters from your Username.

Note: It is very important you write down your MyCIC username, password, recovery & security questions (these will be asked of you every time you log in to your My CIC Account), and save it somewhere safeIf you lose this information, you will need to make a new MyCIC account.

When you have created your MyCIC account, you will be automatically signed in, and from there you can click “What would you like to do today: International Experience Canada”.

You will be asked if you have a Personal Checklist Code and be automatically linked to your IEC Profile so you can complete it.


STEP 3- Create & Complete your IEC Profile (IEC Pool)

Now it is time to finish completing the 4 sections of your IEC Profile, which will look as shown in the picture below the first time you access it.


Complete the 4 sections with your personal details, passport details, etc, as you are asked. Be sure you click on “validate” after you finish completing each of the 4 sections. You will get a green message sayingForm is valid, and then you can click “save and exit”. You will see that the section appears with a green mark as completed. Continue this process until the 4 sections appear as Complete on green.

Click “Continue” and the system will link you to “Your declaration and Electronic Signature”. Click “Transmit” to finally submit your IEC Profile.

Once you have created and submitted your IEC profile and you are eligible, you will be then placed into a pool for your home country. The pools consist of other applicants that are also interested in the same visa category as you (Working HolidayInternational Co-opYoung Professional).

To be sure your IEC Profile has been successfully submitted, make sure you login to your My CIC Account to check that you received a notification confirming your acceptance in the IEC Pool. The letter you will receive in your My CIC Account will look like the image below:

Captura de pantalla 2015-12-05 a la(s) 14.36.10

IMPORTANT: Submitting your IEC Profile doesn’t mean you will be invited or you will receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA).

You must only submit one profile to the IEC pool(s). You can choose to submit your profile to any of the pools you are eligible for that are available to your country. For example, with your one profile, you could be eligible for both the Working Holiday pool and the Young Professional pool.

Also check out our step by step video Working Holiday Application Guide, which is a good reference for the the process!


STEP 4– Receive your Invitation to Apply (ITA)

Once you’ve submitted your IEC profile you will be in the pool of your country of citizenship for one year or until the IEC Season closes. Invitations to apply (ITA) will be issued by the CIC regularly in rounds to candidates in the pools. Eligible candidates will be invited from the pools to apply for a work permit at regular intervals throughout the year and in numbers that are in line with periods of high demand. Rounds of invitations will take place until there are no more spots available. Your MyCIC account will look like the following once you get your Invitation to Apply (ITA). Remember you have 10 days to click “start application” and then 20 days after you click start to complete your work permit application. If you do not have all of your required documents ready, DO NOT click start. Use the time to gather what you need, and then make sure you click start within the 10 days.

Your actual invitation will look like the image below and you will receive it through My CIC Account:

Once you receive an Invitation (ITA), your MyCIC profile will look like this:


It’s important for you to be informed, as once you get your ITA you will have only 10 days to accept your invitation!


STEP 5 Accept Invitation & Apply for your Work Permit

If you are invited to apply, you will get a message in your MyCIC account. You will have 10 days to accept the invitation, otherwise it will EXPIRE.

To accept your Invitation To Apply (ITA) for your Working Holiday, you will need to:

      1. Go to the section called “Applications” in MyCIC
      2. Find the application called “Work permit” and
      3. Click “Start application.”

From the day you accept the invitation, you will have 20 days to apply online for a work permit. You will receive a message in your MyCIC account with the time and date of your deadline. When you have completed the application, the system will generate a personalized Document Checklist for you. It will show all the supporting documents you need to upload. Receiving an invitation to apply does not mean that you will automatically receive a work permit.

Once you accept your invitation, you will be sure this is confirmed once you receive a Deadline Letter in your My CIC Account that will look exactly as follows:



Also, now your application in My CIC will automatically look like this, which means your counting down of 20 days has officially started!

How to apply for WH - SCREENSHOOT

When you click on “Continue Application” you will need to complete each of the 4 sections of the form, that initially will look like this:

How-to-apply-for-a-WH 2016 -4

Once you have all sections properly completed and ready to continue you screen should look like this and you can click on “Continue“. Important: You will be able to modify this information anytime until you submit your work permit application.

How-to-apply-for-a-WH 2016 -3

Once you complete each section of your IEC profile, you will be ready to upload all the required documents. You will find the following list. Please keep in mind that the requested documents can change depending on each personal case, but in general you will be requested the following documents to apply for your working holiday permit.


Make sure you have all the documents requested by the CIC ready ahead of time. For example, for some countries a Police Certificate or Medical exam is required and in some countries, it can take a long time to get one. If you did not start the process to get one before you were invited to apply, you should do this right away.

If you are not able to get a police certificate before the deadline to submit your application, you may upload a copy of the receipt proving you have requested one. You can upload the receipt in place of the police certificate, so CIC will give you another deadline to submit your Police Certificate, thus giving you some extra time for it.

Please note that all IEC participants need to pay a $153 CAD fee and Working Holiday participants need to pay an additional $100 CAD on top of that. Now we also will need to keep in mind the Biometrics Fee for your working holiday application of CAD 85, more information in our next step!

STEP 6- Get your Biometrics Taken 

Biometrics have now been implemented into the application process in order for officers to confirm your identity better. This means that you will have to get your fingerprints scanned and photo taken when you apply for your visa or permit to Canada, including your Working Holiday work permit or any other permit under International Experience Canada. You can learn more about Biometrics here in this link.

How do I get my Biometrics taken for my Working Holiday for Canada?

After you submit your work permit application, you will receive a referral letter telling you that you are required to have your fingerprints and photograph taken. We advise you to get your biometrics done right away! You have 30 days to complete them otherwise your visa will get denied. The processing time for your application will not start until biometrics are complete, so the sooner the better!

Where do I get my Biometrics taken for my Working Holiday?

You will need to go in person to a visa application centre (VAC) and must schedule an appointment first so find a centre closest to you. Once you are there they will scan your fingerprints and take your photo. The cost for an individual application is CAD$85. When you submit your application you will pay for both the application fees (CAD 253) and biometrics fee (cad 85) at the same time.

The good news is, you will only need to give them once every 10 years, this means if you gave your biometrics in the past or once you give them this time around, they are still valid 10 years after that time.

What documents do I need to bring to get my Biometrics taken? 

As soon as you submit your Working Holiday application online, CIC will send you a letter like the one below with instructions on how to get your biometrics taken. You will need to take this letter, along with your passport to the closest VAC.

I live too far from any VFS Global or Visa application Centre, how do I can take my Biometrics for my Working Holiday for Canada? 

For your working holiday work permit application for Canada you will have to take the biometrics, otherwise your work permit application will be denied. This is a new requirement by the Government of Canada, so you MUST get your biometrics taken for your application to be considered.


I am currently un Canada, where can I get my Biometrics taken for my Working Holiday?

In Canada! As of December 03rd 2019, applicants within Canada can now give their Biometrics at one of the Service Canada locations across the country, but remember that you MUST book an appointment before. You can find all the locations here. You must submit your biometrics within 30 days since the moment that your receive your Biometrics letter. You can not complete biometrics until you receive the Biometrics request letter, that’s why it is not a step that can be completed in advance.


STEP 7- Receive your POE (Port of Entry Letter)

After you submit your work permit application with all your final documents, your application will be processed on a “first-in, first-out” basis, but normally once an application is received by the CIC, it will be processed in 5 weeks.

If your application is accepted, you will then receive a Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction in your My CIC Account. You will see your application when you log into your MyCIC account, under the section called “View my submitted applications”, near the bottom of the page.

You need this letter when you arrive in Canada, so please make sure you print it and keep it safe with your passport. Please note that the POE Introduction Letter is NOT your Work Permit, and some countries’ applicants will need to send their passport to get a visa on it. You will give the Visa Officer at the airport your POE Introduction Letter when you arrive, and then receive your Work Permit. Present it to the immigration officer at any Canadian airport along with your proof of CAD$2,500 and your medical insurance for the complete duration of your stay in Canada

Now You Are Ready To Come To Canada!

Start preparing your Working Holiday experience in Canada! We can help you complete your experience in Canada through our Working Holiday Programs, either in Vancouver through the City Job Program or in The Rockies through our Resort Job Program!

Disclaimer: No Legal Advice Provided.

The material on our website and on this webpage is intended to provide only general information and comment to our clients and the public. Although we make our best efforts to ensure that the information found on our website is accurate and timely, do not, under any circumstances, rely on information found on our website as legal or immigration advice. Nor do we guarantee the accuracy of any information contained on websites to which our website provide links. For assistance with your specific enquiry or problem, please contact a lawyer or an immigration consultant.

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