Are you interested in living and working in Canada for a year or two? If so, you may be in luck—the International Experience Canada (IEC) program offers various options to 18-35-year-old citizens from many countries!
Two options are very popular:
- The Working Holiday permit
- The Young Professionals permit
Are you eligible for either or both? And if you meet the requirements for both, which work permit should you choose?
Let’s compare the Working Holiday and the Young Professionals work permits to help you decide what’s best for you!
Who is eligible for a Working Holiday permit to Canada?
Working Holiday permits are available to travellers between 18 and 30-35 years old (depending on your country of citizenship).
You must have a valid passport issued by a country that has signed an IEC agreement with Canada. Participating countries include Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong SAR, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Republic, Latvia Republic, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.
Who is eligible for a Young Professionals permit to Canada?
Much like for a Working Holiday permit, applicants must be between 18 and 30-35 years old.
The agreement and conditions to apply for a Young Professionals permit depend on your country of citizenship—you could be eligible for both a Working Holiday and a Young Professional permit, only a Working Holiday permit or only a Young Professionals permit.
For instance, eligible Australians can apply for either a Young Professionals or a Working Holiday permit but citizens of Andorra and Hong Kong can only apply for a Working Holiday permit and Swiss can only apply for a Young Professionals permit.
You can see the full list of available IEC categories by country here.
Working Holiday vs. Young Professionals permit
Let’s take a look at the main similarities and differences between these two IEC work permits.
Remember to check the fine print applicable to your country of citizenship!
|Working Holiday permit||Young Professionals permit|
|Maximum validity||12 or 24 months (depending on your country of citizenship) (1)||12 or 24 months (depending on your country of citizenship) (2)|
|Job offer required||No||Yes, a job offer letter or contract of employment is a prerequisite The length of the permit depends on the length of the contract|
|Work permit type||Open work permit (3)||Closed work permit (4)|
|Best for||Exploring Canada and working||Gaining work experience|
|Job eligible||Any job in Canada||Jobs classified under Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) category 0, 1, 2 or 3 of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) NOC TEER 4 job might be accepted with additional requirements (5)(8)|
|Employer role in the process||None||Make a job offer through the Employer Portal, pay the CA$230 employer compliance fee and provide a formal, signed job offer letter (6)|
|Canadian healthcare coverage||Under certain conditions, depending on the province or territory (7)||Yes, you will be eligible for provincial/territorial healthcare coverage (7)|
|Open work permit for spouse or partner||Yes, the spouse or common-law partner of a foreign work permit holder is eligible for an open work permit regardless of the job category of the principal foreign worker (as of 2023) It’s best to wait until the Working Holiday permit holder gets three Canadian pay slips (8)(9)||Yes, upon arrival in Canada, as long as the Young Professionals permit holder is working in a skilled occupation (8)(9)|
Some fine print and additional info
1- Depending on your country of citizenship, you could be eligible for a 12- or 24-month Working Holiday permit. However, your passport must be valid for at least 12 or 24 months AND you must buy health insurance coverage for the entire duration of your stay. If you buy coverage for six months, you will be issued a non-extendable six-month Working Holiday permit. Clueless about travel insurance? We’ve got you covered!
2- Depending on your country of citizenship, you could be eligible for a 12- or 24-month Young Professionals permit. Ultimately, the duration of the permit issued will depend on your work contract—if you have a nine-month contract, you will be issued a nine-month Young Professionals permit. Passport validity and health insurance requirements also apply, just like for a Working Holiday permit.
3, 4 – It’s important to understand the difference between a closed and an open work permit. With an open work permit, you can work for any employer and change jobs anytime. Your Working Holiday permit isn’t tied to a specific employer—in fact, you don’t even have to work at all if you’d rather backpack or volunteer in Canada! However, if you have a closed work permit, you’re tied to a specific employer, i.e. the one who provided the required job offer for your Young Professionals work permit. Note that you may be able to change employers under certain conditions.
5- Young Professionals permit applicants must get a job classified under Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) category 0, 1, 2 or 3 of the National Occupational Classification (NOC). A NOC TEER 4 job might be accepted if you can submit a post-secondary diploma, certificate or degree with your work permit application. For a deeper dive into all the requirements, read Work experience in Canada: the Young Professionals work permit.
6- Employers play a role in the Young Professionals (and International Co-op) work permit application. They must submit the job offer through the Employer Portal and pay the CA$230 employer compliance fee.
7- Regardless of potential provincial/territorial healthcare coverage, it’s essential to buy health insurance before your trip. This is mandatory for all Working Holiday permit holders, and proof of insurance may be required upon landing. Young Professionals must buy their own health insurance coverage or be covered by their provincial/territorial health insurance plan + an employer insurance plan + get repatriation coverage.
8- For a refresher on NOC and eligible occupations, read Working in Canada: what is meant by levels A, B, C, D and 0?
9- If you want your spouse or common-law partner to come and work in Canada as well, you should read IEC Canada — Spouse or Common-Law Partner Open Work Permit 101.
Provincial/territorial health insurance plan eligibility for Working Holiday and Young Professionals permit holders
|Province or territory||Health insurance plan coverage for Working Holiday permit holders||Health insurance plan coverage for Young Professionals permit holders||Waiting period||More info|
|Quebec Régie de l’Assurance Maladie du Québec (RAMQ)||No||Yes, with a valid work permit||3 months Citizens from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Serbia and Sweden may be exempted if they provide a certificate of coverage under their country’s social security plan.||More info|
|Ontario Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP)||Yes, if you’re employed full-time for an employer in Ontario for a minimum of 6 months. You must be physically present in Ontario for at least 153 days in any 12-month period.||Yes, if you’re employed full-time for an employer in Ontario for a minimum of 6 months. You must be physically present in Ontario for at least 153 days in any 12-month period.||No waiting period||More info|
|Alberta Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP)||Yes, the minimum acceptable work permit length is 6 months and you must establish residency and intend to stay in Alberta for 12 months or longer.||Yes, the minimum acceptable work permit length is 6 months and you must establish residency and intend to stay in Alberta for 12 months||No waiting period||More info|
|British Columbia Medical Services Plan (MSP)||Yes, if you: - are staying in B.C. for six consecutive months or more; - have a work permit valid for six consecutive months or more; - are employed for six consecutive months or more during the valid period of the work permit; and - will be working a minimum of 18 hours per week.||Yes, if you: - are staying in B.C. for six consecutive months or more; - have a work permit valid for six consecutive months or more; - are employed for six consecutive months or more during the valid period of the work permit; and - will be working a minimum of 18 hours per week.||3 months||More info|
|Manitoba Manitoba Health||Yes, if on a valid work permit (of 12 consecutive months or more) and physically in Manitoba for six months (183 days) in a calendar year.||Yes, if on a valid work permit (of 12 consecutive months or more) and physically in Manitoba for six months (183 days) in a calendar year.||No waiting period||More info|
|New Brunswick Medicare||Yes, with a work permit of 12 months or more.||Yes, with a work permit of 12 months or more.||It can take 4-6 weeks for your application to be processed. You will receive a letter with the official coverage start date.||More info And here|
|Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Care Plan||No||Yes, with a work permit valid for at least 12 months and if you’re working full-time for a designated employer.||Following approval of your application, MCP coverage is effective from the latter date of your arrival in Newfoundland and Labrador and the commencement of your full-time employment.||More info|
|Northwest Territories NWT Health Care Plan||Yes, with a work permit of 12 months or more. You must be physically present in the NWT for at least 153 days during each calendar year.||Yes, with a work permit of 12 months or more. You must be physically present in the NWT for at least 153 days during each calendar year.||You will become eligible for the NWT Health Care Plan on the first day of the third month immediately following the month you became a resident of the NWT.||More info|
|Nova Scotia MSI||Yes, with a minimum 12—month work permit or work contract.||Yes, with a minimum 12—month work permit or work contract.||No waiting period||More info|
|Nunavut Nunavut Health Care Plan||No||Yes, if you’re holding an employment visa valid for 12 months or more.||Health coverage may become effective on the 1st day of the 3rd month provided you meet all eligibility requirements.||More info|
|Prince Edward Island Health PEI||Yes, with a valid work permit which must entitle you to legally work within PEI for at least 183 days. You must meet the residency requirements of six months plus one day (183 days) each year.||Yes, with a valid work permit which must entitle you to legally work within PEI for at least 183 days. You must meet the residency requirements of six months plus one day (183 days) each year.||It can take up to 5 weeks for the application to be processed and approved.||More info|
Can I submit a profile to both the Working Holiday and the Young Professionals pool?
Technically, yes, but remember that the rounds of invitations for Young Professionals permits start before the ones for the Working Holiday permit—you’re likely to get an invitation to apply for a Young Professionals permit and miss out on the Working Holiday permit.
It’s best to apply for a permit that aligns with what you want from your adventure in Canada. And if you change your mind, you can always withdraw your profile from a pool and submit it to the other pool.
And if you’re interested in both permits but don’t have yet the required job offer for a Young Professionals permit, submit your profile to the Working Holiday pool and keep on looking for an eligible job in Canada. If your search is successful, you will be able to withdraw your profile from the Working Holiday pool and submit it to the Young Professionals pool.
Good luck and enjoy your future experience in Canada!