What's the difference between InterExchange, SWAP, and International Experience Canada (IEC)?
International Experience Canada (IEC)
For official purposes you will be a participant on the International Experience Canada (IEC) - Travel and Work program. IEC is the government body that oversees work exchange programs to and from Canada. Citizens from some countries are actually able to apply for this program through IEC directly. However, IEC requires that U.S. citizens work with a private organization they recognize, a "Recognized Organization" (R.O.).
SWAP Working Holidays
SWAP is an organization recognized by IEC (R.O.) making it possible for U.S. citizens to participate. SWAP is a cultural exchange organization based in Vancouver and Toronto offering programs in Canada, as well as for programs Canadians traveling abroad. Once you're in Canada, they will be your main point of support.
InterExchange collaborates with SWAP from the U.S. We support you, a U.S. citizen, during the application process and provide pre-departure information. We are available to demystify the sometimes confusing IEC application. InterExchange is nonprofit 501(c)(3) cultural exchange organization offering experiences in the U.S. for citizens of countries worldwide, and programs abroad for U.S. citizens.
I want to travel to Canada ASAP. How should I proceed?
The first step is applying with InterExchange, and then we will contact you within a few business days. Please complete your InterExchange enrollment at your earliest convenience. We will inform SWAP of your intention to apply and advise you on the work permit application process through IEC.
After applying through IEC you must await approval to travel, after which you're able to obtain a work permit upon entering Canada. You must have travel medical insurance and support funds before traveling.
Can I stay in Canada for longer than a year?
This program is meant as a one-year opportunity to experience the country with the ability to work. We are unable to assist with longer term immigration. However, it is possible to participate on the program two times if you re-apply.
How will I be supported on the program?
Prior to traveling, InterExchange provides guidance with respect to the work permit application process and your preparations for traveling. We also provide alumni resources upon your return. While in Canada, SWAP is available to provide guidance for finding jobs, housing, and logistics including obtaining your Social Insurance Number (SIN), getting around, and finding activities in your area.
Where will I stay?
Most travelers have already planned accommodation or booked hostels independently for the early part of the program. If you prefer, we can arrange a few nights of initial hostel accommodation for you.
How long will it take me to find a job?
If you are proactive, professional, and open to various types of jobs (rather than aiming for one specific position), you can find a job quickly. There are many jobs available and most of our participants land a position within their first or second week in Canada.
Can I get a job placement before I get to Canada?
It's possible to secure work independently prior to arriving in Canada, but we don't organize job placements in advance.
How much will I earn in Canada?
The minimum wage in Canada depends on the province and generally ranges from $10.20 to $12.50 CAD per hour, with higher pay more often in northern Canada. Service employees - those working in restaurants and bars, for instance - are usually paid lower than minimum wage as tips complete their wages. Generally, Canadians tip 15% or more. Most ski resorts pay close to the minimum wage unless participants are hired for supervising roles. Office wages may be higher than minimum wage. The highest wages tend to be in construction and labor - particularly in Alberta where workers are needed year-round.
Can I leave Canada and re-enter?
Yes. You can leave the country and come back during the 12 months your visa is valid.
Do I have to stay in Canada for 12 months?
No. You can stay as long as 12 months, but there's no minimum stay.
Can I extend my visa?
You may only participate for a maximum of 12 months. However, you may participate on the program a second time if you enroll again through InterExchange. This is not an extension. If you apply a second time, you must leave Canada and return in order to obtain your second work permit.
Can I take classes during my stay?
Yes, you can study for up to four months.
Can I work for the same employer the entire time of my stay?
Yes, you may work for the same employer for the duration of your Working Holiday Visa.
How much money should I bring with me at the start?
You should have access to at least $2,500 CAD and be prepared to show proof of this at the time of applying for your Letter of Introduction.
How much do housing, transportation, and food cost in Canada?
A room in a shared house or apartment usually costs $400 to $700 CAD per month.
Transit passes generally cost between $80 to $134 CAD per month.
Groceries should cost around $35 to $60 CAD per month.
What other costs should I prepare for?
- Optional pre-booked hostel accommodation ($30 CAD per night)
- Fees paid directly to International Experience Canada and Citizenship and Immigration ($250 CAD)
- Travel health insurance (required)
- Costs for traveling to and from Canada