J1 visa in Canada? Why a Working Holiday could be your next plan

Can you get a J1 visa for Canada? Does Canada offer a J1 visa? Whether you’re new to the idea or looking for things to do after your current J1 Summer Work and Travel in the USA expires, you’ve probably asked yourself at some point whether a J1 visa Canada exists. In this guide we’ll evaluate the differences between a J1 visa in the USA and a Working Holiday in Canada and how they work. Work and travel in Canada is a great option for anyone that has ever had a J1 Visa adventure in the United States, so if you’re looking for what to do next, obtaining a Canadian Working Holiday is a great next move. Are you ready for the next adventure?

Before we get started

Before diving into the differences between a J1 visa in the United States and Working Holiday in Canada, it’s important to clarify that in Canada J1 Visas do not exist. Canada has a completely different program called International Experience Canada (IEC) that offers to citizens of specific countries apply for a Working Holiday Permit (often times referred as Working Holiday visa).

This is an Open Work Permit, a highly flexible work visa, allowing you to work for various employers and anywhere in Canada. If you had enjoyed your J1 Summer Work and Travel visa program in the United States, you will absolutely loved a working holiday experience in Canada.

In combination, these two different visas in Canada and USA  give you a wealth of opportunities and we strongly suggest extending your adventure in America by exploring Canada as your next destination. Whether you’re at the start of your J1 Visa journey or you’re searching for where to go when your J1 visa in the USA expires, we’re confident you’ll find some inspiration here.

J1 Visa: Exchange Visitor Visa for USA

The J1 Visa program in the USA is an opportunity for individuals from participating countries to visit the United States on a temporary visa for a specific period of time. This non-immigrant visa facilitates exchanges in various fields, ranging from education to research and cultural immersion.

Participants from around the world can engage in academic exchanges, internships, or seasonal work like a Summer Camp in the USA. For a J1 Visa in the USA, participants must have a sponsor to be allowed to apply for it. As type of experiences the J1 visa offers and duration, you will find the following among many others:

  • Summer Work Travel: 4-month during post-secondary school summer vacation.
  • Au Pair: 12 months that may be extended for an additional 6, 9, or 12 months.
  • Camp Counselors: No more than 4 months.
  • Trainees and Interns: 18 months for a training program & 12 months for an intern program (limited exception for training programs in the field of agriculture, which may be designated for a total duration of 18 months).

We will focus on the most common program among the J1 visas for the USA that might be connected the most to our Working Holiday programs in Canada: The Summer Work & Travel program

Summer J1 Work & Travel Program

College and University students can apply for this visa to travel to the United States to share their culture through temporary work and travel opportunities.

The Summer Work Travel allows foreign students to work in the USA between 1-4 months during their summer vacation from college or university to experience and to be exposed to the people and way of life in the United States.

What to do after your J1 visa in the USA?

Generally speaking, when your J1 visa expires you will most likely need to leave the US. Normally participants will have a “30-Day Grace Period” to travel inside the United States after the J1 visa expires, so you get the opportunity to visit different areas of the country before your departure.

Employment and other exchange activities are prohibited during the 30-day grace period. This means that you have until 30 days after your program end date to depart the U.S. Certain J-1 exchange visa holders are subject to a 2-year foreign residence requirement.

It is possible, in some cases, to extend your visa or apply for a different visa type, but this varies from case to case and we are not experts in the USA, but in Canada! For that reason, if you are thinking Canada could be your next destination, the first step is for you to check if you would be eligible to apply for a Canadian Working Holiday if you are a citizen of any of the more than 30 participating IEC countries!

Applying for a Working Holiday visa for Canada

A Canada Working Holiday visa opens the door to a world of additional opportunity and work & travel adventure. Similarly to the J1, Canada offers a Youth Mobility Program called International Experience Canada. If you attended and enjoyed one of the popular US programs: Summer Work & Travel or Camp USA, we’re pretty certain you’ll love our Canada Working Holiday Resort programs for Summer Season or Winter Season, so be sure to check them out!

So, is there a J1 Canada?

No, there is not. The concept of J1 visa is only valid for United States.

Canada offers its own youth mobility program called International Experience Canada (IEC). A Working Holiday visa or work permit is part of  this program that aims to promote cultural exchange by offering young individuals, like yourself, the chance to live and work in Canada. Working holidays are unique in that they offer an open work permit. This means a few exciting things for you:

  1. You will be allowed to work for any employer in Canada – not an employer specific work permit as the J1 visa in the USA.
  2. You are allowed to work anywhere in Canada – you can start your adventure in the Canadian Rockies and finish it off in the awesome city of Toronto. You set the limits inside Canada!
  3. The permit duration can be between 12-24 months duration – depending on your Nationality, check your IEC agreement here.

Ready for Canada on a working holiday?

For those who relished their experiences with the J1 Visa in the USA, the Canada Working Holiday Program holds immense appeal. We’re a leading work experience provider and a Recognized Organization of International Experience Canada. We offer tailored support and unparalleled work experiences in Canada, ensuring that participants make the most of their time abroad. Get in touch to start planning your Canadian adventure!

Working holiday programs with Stepwest:

At Stepwest, we specialize in working holiday programs in Canada. We’re travellers, just like you, so we take great care in making it as easy as possible to get to Canada! We offer a range of different work experience programs to suit your needs so that nothing can get in the way of your adventurous spirit. Let’s take a look at what you can do with a Working Holiday in Canada:


Winter Working Holiday:

Our Winter Resort Working Holiday programs are a fantastic opportunity for anyone wanting to secure a job before arriving in Canada. We are well-connected with some of the top Canadian ski resorts and will help you land a job and guaranteed staff accommodation (shared housing) before you leave your home country!


Summer Working Holiday:

Quite similar to the Summer Work & Travel in the USA, but in Canada! Our summer resort programs are great for those who want to enjoy an amazing Canadian summer. Offering a wide range of employment options, a summer working holiday is a fantastic way to experience Canada and all its beauty, while earning money and the best part? You can stay for the Winter Season!

What to do after a J1 Summer Work & Travel?

If you are planning what to do after your J1 Summer work experience in the USA or you have done a J1 in the USA before and are looking for alternatives, you might want to check if you are eligible to embark on a Working Holiday in Canada.

Through Canada’s International Experience Canada program, if you are from one of the more than 30 IEC countries, you can apply for a Working Holiday Visa, allowing you to live and work in Canada for of up to 12 or 24 months at a time, depending on your nationality.

If you have already done a J1 visa in the USA or you are currently checking plans for after your J1 visa, you could consider Canada:

Head home after your J1 Visa & plan your Working Holiday Canada there.

Let’s say your J1 visa is expiring soon, you have already plan all your travels during your 30 days grace period in the USA, so you can wrap up your experience to return home and graduate from your studies. What about preparing for your Working Holiday experience right after that?

Connect with us today, and we will guide you on how the process for Canada would work. We can confirm that will be quite different from the J1 Visa you just completed.

Plan your Canadian Working Holiday while working in the USA

Summer Season in the USA and Winter Season in Canada, sounds like a plan? Thinking about heading to Canada right after your Sumer Work and Travel J1 Visa? YES, that’s possible, but the sooner you start preparing the better!

We can confirm that you can complete all the steps from outside your country and even when Biometrics is a mandatory step that you must complete in person, we can guide you so you can go in person to any of the hundreds of Centers that Canada allows you to complete this step. There are more than 1 Center per state, so no matter where you are completing your J1 Visa, from New York City to Alaska, you will have at least one office to attend to through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Ready to make the move?

At the end of the day, both the J1 experience in the USA and the Canadian Working Holiday, will open the doors for international work experience. Both programs offer a truly unique and enticing opportunity, and we encourage you to give them both a go! Connect with our team today and learn everything about your next work and travel experience, this time in Canada!

Read Our Most Recent Blogs:

May 28, 2024

Stepwest Joins The Alliance Strategies Family

Stepwest is excited to announce they will be joining the Alliance Strategies family, a leading provider of cultural exchange and work and travel programs.

May 23, 2024

Why a Summer Camp in Canada is Just the Beginning: Your Next Adventure Awaits with a Working Holiday

Discover how to maximize your Canadian adventure after a Canada Summer Camp experience. Learn about planning a Working Holiday in Canada with Stepwest, from securing your IEC visa to finding resort jobs in Wester Canada, we're here to help!

May 15, 2024

How to Find a Resort Job in Canada for the 2024/2025 Season

Wondering how to find a resort job in Canada for the 2024/2025 season? We've got you covered with this easy guide.