5Eligibility requirements

The 9 steps of a Canadian WHP application

To apply for a WHP, you have to use the “My immigration application” section of a Government of Canada website. This is the only way to apply for an IEC work permit.

Step 1 – Create your GCKey and your account on Canada.ca

GCKey is a Government of Canada service that uses credentials so that you can securely sign into your online account. Getting your GCKey user ID is easy—you just need to choose a username, a password and four security questions/answers. Continue with GCKey to create your account.

To learn more about these first two steps, read chapter 3 of our Step-By-Step Tutorial to International Experience Canada Work Permits — International Co-op, Young Professionals and Working Holiday Applications.

Step 2 – Create an IEC profile and submit it to a pool

Keep your passport handy, you’ll need it for this step—it’s the only document you need at this stage.

In the “What would you like to do today” section on the homepage, click on “International Experience Canada.” Answer a few questions to see if you’re eligible for a pool in one or more IEC categories.

If you are eligible, you’ll have to fill out a ten-minute online questionnaire to see if you meet the criteria to enter the WHP pool. There are four different sections:

  • Personal details (marital status, citizenship[s], immigration history in Canada)
  • Contact details (email address, preferred official language—English or French—of correspondence)
  • Work and education details (fields are prefilled with the answers you provided in the previous sections)
  • Application details (the pool you want to be added to)

Answer all the questions and submit the questionnaire. Usually, several minutes later, you’ll receive a message stating that your profile was submitted to one or several pools.

At this stage, you don’t have to pay the fees yet—entering the pool is free.

Step 3 – Wait to see if you receive an Invitation to Apply

Once your profile has been placed into a pool, no further action is required from you—just keep your fingers crossed and hope for an Invitation to Apply.

  • Your profile stays in the pool during the entire IEC season, so you’re eligible for every round of invitations. You don’t have to submit your profile again after the end of each round during the ongoing season. Keep in mind that the system randomly picks a number of candidates, so there is no guarantee you will receive an Invitation to Apply. At the end of the IEC season, if your profile wasn’t selected, you have to submit it again if you’re interested in trying again for the next season.
  • If you do receive an Invitation to Apply, you have 10 days to start your application or decline the invitation. When you click on “Start Application,” you will have 20 days to complete your application (with all required documents), pay the fees and submit it. You will receive an instruction letter a day or two after submitting your IEC work permit application. After receiving the instructions you have up to 30 days to submit your biometrics (fingerprints and photo).


Step 4 – Complete your WHP application

The first step after you accept the Invitation to Apply is to answer a series of questions related to:

  • your personal details (marital status, former and current country of residence, immigration history in Canada)
  • your contact information (email and phone number)
  • your work and education details (your complete work and education history for the past 10 years)
  • your application details
  • your background (with questions regarding your medical history, past visits to Canada and public safety)

Step 5 – Provide all required documents

Once you’re done filling out your application, you must upload and send several required supporting documents, for instance police certificate(s) and/or proof of a medical exam performed by a panel physician. Just click the “Upload File” button from the website.

Step 6 – Submit your application and pay the fees

For this step, you will need a debit/credit card.

Once you’re done uploading all the required documents, you can submit your application. The next page will be a summary of the fees to pay, CAD346 for a WHP. You will have to enter your payment information online. After you pay, your application will be automatically transmitted.

Step 7 – Wait for your application to be processed

Official application processing times for WHP is 8 weeks, during which immigration officers will: review your application to make sure it’s complete, decide if you are allowed to come to or stay in Canada, and decide if you are eligible to apply for the WHP.

  • If you meet all the requirements (eligibility to a WHP, complete application, no security or health issues), you will receive a Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction. With your Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction in hand, you can start planning your trip to Canada. You have to land (i.e. go through immigration at a Canadian land border or airport) before the date in the “Permit validity” box on your Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction. Your Letter of Introduction will normally be valid for 12 months.
  • If your application is denied—which is fairly rare at this stage—you will receive a letter explaining why you can’t be issued a WHP.

Step 8 – Enter Canada with your WHP

You usually have 12 months to travel to Canada and meet a border officer who will issue the work permit. You will need to show your passport (which must be valid for the entire duration of your stay in Canada), your Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction, a proof of funds and a proof of health insurance.

The border officer will staple the work permit document to a page in your passport. Normally, if you provide all the documents required, it will be valid for 12 or 24 months from the date it was issued. You can now work anywhere in Canada until it expires!

Remember: you have 12 months to enter Canada with your WHP. Past the deadline, the WHP is void. Your fees can’t be refunded and you can’t apply for another WHP or a Young Professionals permit!

Step 9 – Apply for a SIN to work legally in Canada

Your last step to be able to work legally in Canada is to apply for a Social Insurance Number (“SIN”). It’s fast and easy—just go to the nearest Service Canada office with the required documents. You’ll be issued a number right away and will receive the plastic card by mail a few weeks later. You’ll keep the same number for the entire duration of your stay, for as long as you’re a WHP holder.

Your SIN identifies you and is used for tax reporting purposes. Your employer will ask for it.

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