How U.S. Citizens 18-35 Years Old Can Work in Canada

By James Bridge

2 minutes


Moving abroad can be riddled with hurdles depending on where and why a person is traveling. While U.S. citizens have the privilege of visa waivers in well over 100 countries, moving abroad for work can get tricky.

I was already too old to take advantage of the working holiday visas when I first learned about them but I try to get the word out to others when I can.

When it comes to Canada, there are two great and relatively straightforward options allowing U.S. citizens 18-35 to move up north for up to a year, both under the authority of International Experience Canada (IEC), a government program allowing youth to work and travel for temporary periods.

Working Holiday

The first and most straightforward is the Working Holiday program, which allows a person to move to Canada without a job lined up in advance and with very few restrictions on where a person can live and work. A traveler might have a job already but it’s not necessary and with so many seasonal positions throughout the country, finding work can be easier than one might expect. The working holiday visa is good for up to a year and is not attached to any one job, meaning a person could work various short-term positions, move around the country, work multiple jobs, etc.

Requirements

  • U.S. citizen
  • Age 18-35

Hospitality jobs are plentiful on the Working Holiday program.
Hospitality jobs are plentiful on the Working Holiday program.

Young Professional Program

The second option requires a paid job offer in advance and the job shouldn’t be entry level. The Young Professional Program also allows U.S. citizens 18-35 to live and work in Canada for up to a year, but the work permit is tied to the specific job offer a person applies with.

Requirements

  • U.S. citizen
  • Age 18-35
  • Have a job offer already

The Young Professional Program lets you work in a field in which you studied or have training.
The Young Professional Program lets you work in a field in which you studied or have training.
Image courtesy of Pexels

How to Apply

U.S. citizens can’t apply directly to the government for these two programs, since Canada and the U.S. don’t have a bilateral youth mobility arrangement. However, the Canadian government has approved a number of recognized organizations (or “ROs”), with whom U.S. citizens can sign up as a path to approval on either program. The ROs usually offer additional support like orientations, job search guidance, social activities, and logistical information.

Orientations are a great way to meet fellow participants!
Orientations are a great way to meet fellow participants!

As Director of Outbound Programs at InterExchange I’ve had the privilege of supporting hundreds of Americans traveling to Canada on these IEC programs. While the application process can take a little patience these are relatively smooth paths to working in Canada, which are hard to come by in an increasingly cautious world.

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
Exclusive partner of the Erasmus Student Network for J-1 Visa sponsorship of internships in the U.S.
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Generation Study Abroad
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation