Applying for a Working Holiday permit (WHP)
The random selection system
Before 2016, WHP applications were handled on a first-come, first-served basis. However, over the years, Canada has turned into a very popular destination and embassies were getting swamped with tons of applications on day 1.
In 2016, the Government of Canada switched to a new system. Now, applicants are randomly drawn for a pool during several “round of invitations” until there are no more spots or until the end of the visa season. The first step to apply for a WHP is to submit your profile to the pool of candidates.
However, the number of profiles in the pool often exceeds the quota of WHPs set by the government of Canada. You can submit a profile anytime during the visa season, but you may have to wait several rounds for your profile to be drawn—and if the quota is met, you may very well not be drawn at all.
Documents required for all applicants
If you receive an Invitation to Apply, you must provide the following documents:
- a clear, readable copy of your passport (ID pages and any page with stamps or visas)
- a digital photo of yourself
- a resume (in English or in French) listing your education, skills and work experience
- form IMM5707, completed
Police certificates (required for some applicants only)
Nationals from several countries must provide a police certificate from their country of citizenship. Some applicants may also have to provide a police certificate from any foreign country where they have spent six months or more since the age of 18.
Check if you need to apply for a police certificate (or several) and budget accordingly because some countries charge a fee for such documents.
Medical exams (required for some applicants only)
You may be required to undergo a medical exam if:
- you plan to work in a job where it’s important to protect public health (including health services, child care or primary or secondary education)
- you have recently lived or travelled in certain countries or territories for six months or more and there may be a risk of importation of tuberculosis
- you or someone in your family has or had TB.
Completing a physical exam with a doctor approved by IRCC (called a panel physician) adds an extra step (and an extra fee) to the WHP application process but the embassy will “save your spot” while waiting for the results.
If you don’t get a medical exam, your work permit will have the following mention: “Not authorized to work in 1) child care 2) primary or secondary school teaching 3) health services field occupations.” If you got a medical exam, this condition is removed.
Once in Canada, if you find a work opportunity in a field for which a medical exam was required, you can still take this medical exam in Canada. However, your potential employer may not be willing to wait for you to have this condition on your work permit removed. Changing your work permit conditions is costly and long.
The WHP adventure as a couple
There’s no such thing as a “couples visa”—each partner must meet the requirements, submit a profile to the pool and hope for an Invitation to Apply. Applications are assessed separately once submitted.
If one of the partners does get the Invitation to Apply, the other one can’t be “added to the application” or automatically be granted a WHP. The partner will have to wait for an Invitation to Apply, apply for another type of work permit (if applicable) or come to Canada as a visitor (in which case, no work is allowed).
Spouses or common-law partners of skilled people coming to Canada as foreign workers may themselves be authorized to work without first having an offer of employment. Check if the WHP applicant could be considered for an open work permit.
The WHP experience as a family
Canada is the only WHP country that allows applicants to come with children. Many families enjoy this opportunity every year.
Each family member must have their own legal status in Canada— WHP, work permit, student permit or visitor visa.
Keep in mind that:
- Children aged 18 and above must apply for their own permit or visa to Canada.
- If only one of the parents travels with the child, check the “Minor children travelling to Canada” page to make sure you’re carrying the proper documents with you. Every child must have a valid passport.
- As part of the WHP application, you must fill out form IMM5707—Family Information and state if family members (spouse, common-law partner, parents, children) will be coming with you to Canada.
- In Canada, school attendance is compulsory from six years old. Younger children can go to a daycare centre or to a home daycare, but keep in mind that there may be waiting lists and that fees are very high ($800 to $1800/month for full-time daycare in Ontario).
- Children aged six and above must go to school or be enrolled in a homeschool program. Read Find out if your child needs a study permit and Studying in Canada as a minor for more information. WHP holders can apply for a study permit for their child before leaving or when landing.
Pregnancy and birth during a WHP
Whether it was planned or it’s a complete, happy surprise, being pregnant during WHP adventures requires strong preparation skills and a large budget.
If you have a Young Professionals work permit, you are covered by your provincial/territorial health plan (although there may be a three-month waiting period before being covered). Most, if not all your basic medical needs will be covered, from routine checkups to labour and delivery. If you don’t have an extended health plan through your employer, check if you have to pay anything out of pocket, like prescriptions.
WHP holders are not eligible for provincial/territorial health plans (with a few exceptions). Many travel insurance policies don’t cover pregnancy (usually, they specifically exclude it). A few insurance policies cover some fees but there could be a waiting period—if it’s 10 months, for instance, you won’t be covered. Typical maximum coverage is also fairly low, so any complications may turn into an out-of-pocket expense.
A regular, straightforward pregnancy with regular prenatal visits and labour and delivery usually costs around $10,000. Any complication—additional exams, high-risk pregnancy, early labour, C-section, etc.—can double, triple, quadruple the bill.
Main articles about the WHV to Canada
Step-By-Step Guide to International Experience Canada Work Permits
Introduction to the Canada Working Holiday permit
Guide to Working Holiday in Canada (free download)
16 Good Reasons to Apply for a Working Holiday Visa
Globe WHV insurance policy highlights
The duration of your insurance coverage directly impacts your WHV
15 Tips for a Successful WHV Experience
The Working Holiday Visa Adventure as a Solo Traveller