The Canada Working Holiday Visa: A Guide for Irish Citizens

October 26, 2020
Posted in Working Holiday

UPDATED: November 25th, 2021

Are you thinking about moving to Canada on a working holiday visa? Canada and Ireland have an agreement in place allowing Irish citizens to stay in Canada for up to two years on a working holiday visa. That’s a nice amount of time to explore our great nation’s three coastlines, and make some money while you’re here!

You might have some questions about how the process of moving to Canada works now after all the uncertainty from COVID-19…

  • Am I eligible for a working holiday visa?
  • Are there new requirements after COVID to work in Canada?
  • What is International Experience Canada (IEC)?
  • When are the IEC visa applications opening up again for 2022?

In this post, we break down everything Irish citizens need to know before applying for the International Experience Canada Working Holiday Visa.


This blog, and the programs mentioned, are only aimed for first time applicants on International Experience Canada (IEC).

For second time participants interested in our Recognized Organization (RO) IEC work permits, please find more information here.

What is the Canada Working Holiday Visa?

Canada’s agreement with Ireland is part of a program called International Experience Canada. This program and the department of the Canadian government arrange the working holiday agreements with various countries around the world. They also process the working holiday visa applications.

The Canada Working Holiday Visa gives Irish citizens entry into Canada for up to two years. When entering Canada with a working holiday visa, the immigration officer will take your visa and in exchange, provide you with an open work permit. This open work permit allows you to work in any job in Canada, for up to 24 months.

Like the Australia Working Holiday Visa – but better!

Have you or one of your mates been down to Australia on a working holiday? Then you might be familiar with the concept of working to fund your travels. The working holiday visa for Canada is just like the working holiday visa for Australia, but better! How is that? Well, us friendly Canadians won’t make you do any ‘specified work’ (otherwise known as backbreaking farm work) for several months to stay for a second year. As long as you meet the required criteria for entry into Canada, you’ll be welcomed in for two years right off the cuff! How’s that for warm Canadian hospitality?

Moa from Sweden visiting islands in Canada on her working holiday in Vancouver.
Stepwest has been helping Europeans like Moa come to Canada on working holiday programs since 2010. You could be next! 📷: @moacronheden

Am I eligible for a Working Holiday Visa in Canada?

In order to apply for the working holiday visa for Canada, you must meet a number of criteria:

  • Be a citizen of Ireland.
  • Have an Irish passport that expires after your working holiday in Canada.
  • Are between 18 and 35, inclusively.
  • Proof of $2,500 CAD equivalent or more in savings.
  • Have health insurance for your entire stay (proof required). This is important! Read our post on what you need to know about insurance for IEC.
  • Have a round-trip ticket to present on arrival, or can prove financial means to purchase one at the end of your working holiday.

New COVID-19 Requirements – Working Holidays in Canada

Fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada do not need to comply with an isolation period anymore. Our Working Holiday Resort Job Program guarantees you a job in Canada, so you can hit the ground running.

As of January 15, 2022, IEC work permit holders will only be allowed to enter the country if they are fully vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved for entry into Canada.

Karolina on her working holiday visa in Canada
On our Working Holiday Canada Program, we secured a hotel job for Karolina in Banff before she arrived in Canada. Check out her experience in Canada!

Get your working holiday job arranged in Canada:

The Working Holiday Visa Application Process

Because of the popularity of the Canada working holiday visa, most countries have more applicants than visas available. Therefore, IEC created a system where interested participants submit their profiles into a pool of candidates. Then, candidates are selected at random and invited to apply for the visa. Invitations to apply are sent out in a series of rounds so that IEC officials don’t get overwhelmed with too many applications at once.

Perhaps it’s the luck of the Irish because, to date, Ireland has not maxed out its annual quota of working holiday visas. This means you don’t have to wait on a chance to be invited to apply. However, you still have to go through the process like everyone else, but don’t worry, we’ll be able to support and guide you through the entire process.

What is the maximum age limit to work in Canada?

The Canada working holiday visa is available to Irish citizens between the ages of 18 and 35. This means you must be within this age range at the time of your application. If you are 35 you can still apply, but take note, you must apply before your 36th birthday in order to be eligible.

Important: If you are 35 when you submit your profile into the pool but turn 36 before you receive your invitation to apply, unfortunately, you are no longer eligible to apply.

After applying and once you have received your visa, you have 12 months to enter Canada. Therefore, if you turned 36 after submitting your application, it is possible to enter Canada when you are 36 and stay until you are 38.

How much money do I need to enter Canada on a working holiday visa?

Upon entry into Canada, you are required to show the visa officer proof you have access to the equivalent in Euros of $2,500 CAD or higher. This will help the officer determine you are able to support yourself while you begin your working holiday and look for a job.

Stepwest participant Nils shares his review of our Canada Working Holiday Program

Secure your job in Canada faster with Stepwest:

How much money will I earn in Canada? How will I get paid?

The minimum wage in Canada is different in each province. As of October 2021, the minimum wage in Alberta is $15 CAD/hour and in British Columbia, it is $15.20 CAD/hour.

In Canada, it’s common to get paid bi-weekly (every two weeks). If you are working with our Resort Job Program, the rent for your staff housing will be deducted directly from your paycheque.

Can you apply for a Canada working holiday visa twice?

Irish citizens cannot apply twice for a Canada working holiday visa. With an Irish passport, you may only get one working holiday visa in your lifetime.

If you are a dual citizen you can apply for a working holiday visa with your other passport. Of course, only if Canada has an agreement with the country of your other nationality. You can find the full list of countries here. Take note, some countries have a residency requirement meaning you must be living in the country in order to apply under that citizenship.

Do you also have a UK passport?

If you are a dual citizen of Ireland and the UK, you can apply for a second working holiday visa using your UK passport. You can do so even if you live in Ireland because there are no residency requirements for UK citizens applying for the visa. But remember, the age limit for UK citizens to apply to the Canada Working Holiday Visa is 30, NOT 35 like Ireland. Also, please keep in mind that the UK pool for International Experience Canada is way more competitive than the Irish pool.

Can I apply for the Young Professional visa after my Working Holiday visa in Canada as an Irish citizen?

Even though Irish citizens can participate in International Experience Canada twice, you cannot use both the Working Holiday and Young Professional visas. One of your two participations in IEC must be with the International Co-op visa, which you can read more about here. Therefore, as an Irish citizen, you must decide between the Working Holiday visa or the Young Professional visa, you cannot do both.

What Else Do I Need to Know Before Applying for the Working Holiday Visa as an Irish Citizen?

Police Certificates

International Experience Canada officials require you to upload supporting documents as part of your application for the working holiday visa. Most nationalities are required to upload a police certificate at this stage. Ireland is one of them. This is to prove you do not have a criminal record.

The police certificate you upload cannot be more than six months old. You should request it from the superintendent who is in charge of your district. Remember each county’s Garda Síochána office issues their own certificates. For more information, visit the Garda Síochána.

I lived in another country for more than six months, do I need a police certificate from there too?

Yes, you are required to provide a police certificate for every country that you have lived in for more than six months. For more information, check out our guide to getting police certificates for International Experience Canada.


In order to be allowed into Canada on your working holiday, you are required to prove you have health insurance for the duration of your stay. This means that if you want to stay for two years, you must purchase two years of health insurance before arriving in Canada. You cannot purchase health insurance and extend it once you are in Canada.

It is important here to note that the decision of the length of your work permit is up to the discretion of the immigration officer. Even though Irish citizens are eligible for a two-year open work permit, if arrive in Canada with just 3, 6, or 12 months of medical insurance, you risk receiving a work permit of the same duration. For more information, including our recommended insurance provider, refer to our guide on insurance for International Experience Canada.

Get the right insurance for IEC here


The final step of the application process is submitting your biometrics. These are personal identifiers such as your photo and fingerprints which help immigration officers identify you.

Do I have to complete biometrics in Dublin?

No, you can complete your biometrics at any biometrics collection center in the world. As an Irish citizen, you are not required to submit your biometrics from the center in Dublin. Read our complete guide to submitting biometrics for your working holiday visa application.

As of today, all Biometrics Centers have reopened their offices, so make sure you book your appointment to get yours done.

I am planning to travel to Canada on a Working Holiday Visa in 2022, when should I apply?

As soon as possible! If the IEC season is open you can create your IEC profile and become a candidate, which will allow you to receive an invitation to apply for a work permit. IEC is closed for the year, you will need to wait for the next opening season to become a candidate, but you can start to get ready with us!

Please note that because of COVID-19, processing times are not the usual eight weeks. We have seen a delay in the process during 2021, so the sooner you become a candidate, the better. Remember that after you get your working holiday visa approved, Canada gives you 12 months to activate the permit, so you don’t have to travel right away.

Oscar's experience on a Working Holiday Visa in Canada
In 2022, call the beaches of Vancouver home like Oscar from Spain on Stepwest’s Working Holiday Program.

Why should I do my Canada Working Holiday Visa with Stepwest?

Our team of working holiday specialists will:

  • We guarantee your job in Canada BEFORE your departure from Ireland
  • We will revise your resume and conduct interview preparation for Canadian employers. Standard Irish CV’s are not well received in Canada. We’ll make your resume stand out to Canadian hiring managers!
  • Assistance with your working holiday visa application: Required documents, biometrics, and each step after you receive your invitation.
  • Pre-arranged job interviews – saving you TONS of time applying for jobs!
  • Staff housing pre-arranged (Resort Job Program only) or Vancouver accommodation options on arrival (City Job Program).
  • Pre-departure orientation to prepare for your arrival to Canada, including matching all COVID-19 new requirements so you can enter Canada with no problems!
  • Welcome to Canada orientation once you arrive to assist with opening your free bank account, getting your SIN number, mobile SIM, and more.
  • Support from our Canada team in Vancouver throughout your entire working holiday.
  • Plus many other benefits to help you settle into your Canadian working holiday adventure!

Start your working holiday with a team of experts at your side:

Wait, there’s more!

Internships in Canada

In addition to getting a working holiday visa, Irish citizens can also get an International Co-op Visa. You can use this work visa for an internship in Canada up to 12 months in length. To be eligible for this visa, you must be registered in a school in Ireland when you apply.

The International Co-op visa is employer-specific. This means that you are applying for the visa so you can work at your internship company. It is not an open work permit like the working holiday. When you apply for this visa you must include your job offer from your internship host company. So in order to apply for this visa, you have to secure your internship before you apply for the visa. Sound like a bit of work? Stepwest can secure your internship in Canada for you and walk you through the visa application.


Apply Now

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