What does the program fee cover?
Your $795 payment covers the fees for both SWAP and InterExchange.
While in Canada, SWAP is available to provide guidance with finding jobs, housing, and logistics including obtaining your Social Insurance Number (SIN), getting around, and finding activities in your area. They have a jobs database for members, friendly staff available to speak with you about your work and travel goals, and support centers with orientation sessions every week in Toronto and Vancouver.
InterExchange provides information with respect to the work permit application process and your preparations for traveling.
What types of jobs are available?
Most jobs on a working holiday tend to be short-term and seasonal. These jobs are typically in the fields of travel and tourism, hospitality and resorts, food and beverage, retail, manual labor, event set up, etc. Jobs can range from one day to a few months. That being said, it is possible to find more professional work. Just speak with our partner SWAP about your work goals and they can point you in the right direction and provide resources for your search.
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 Canadians traveling abroad. Once you’re in Canada, they will be your main point of support.
InterExchange is a 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. 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.
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 with guidelines for completing the government (IEC) application. 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.
Please note that we cannot guarantee how long the work permit application process will take. Most applicants receive approval within two months, but it can take longer.
Who can apply for the program? Are there any restrictions?
As long as you’re a U.S. citizen 18-35 you are most likely eligible. U.S. citizens are allowed to participate in up to two IEC programs (two of the same, or one of each). These include the Working Holiday and Young Professional (YP) programs, both of which we offer at InterExchange. However, if you’ve already participated in your first IEC program, keep in mind that we have very limited spots for second-year participants on the Working Holiday and these sell out early, so if you are returning for a second year please consdier the Young Professional program.
What are the chances I'll be approved?
U.S. citizens who meet the basic eligibility requirements are routinely approved. Rejections are extremely rare for those who meet these requirements and apply through the proper channels. You will have to complete the government application yourself but again, we will provide some informational guidelines to help.
Are there any special documents I should prepare in advance?
Most applicants do not need to prepare anything in advance. Those who have lived abroad for 6+ months since the age of 18 may be asked for a background check from that country. Those who have indicated they would like to work in childcare, education, or healthcare may be asked to undergo a medical exam with a panel physician. It’s possible that you will be requested to provide these documents for other reasons, but those are the most common situations that result in these requests. In general, U.S. citizens are not required to provide biometrics.
How do I get approved?
If you meet the basic eligibility requirements you can use the “Sign Up” buttons on our website to sign up. It’s a quick process and we usually approve applicants within a business day or two. Then we’ll send you guidelines to complete the government application, which is a bit more involved. In short, you’ll create a profile on the government website, they will extend an “Invitation to Apply,” and then you can proceed with their application forms online. The whole process usually takes under two months but this can vary depending on the applicant.
Can I apply from within Canada, or travel to Canada as a visitor while I’m waiting to be approved?
Yes, both of these are okay but once you’re approved, in order to activate your work permit you will have to leave Canada and return.
Do I need to have a job before I travel?
No. For the Working Holiday program you can have a job in advance or if not, you’re welcome to look for work while you’re in Canada. SWAP can help in your job search. Many employers will only be willing to hire you once you’ve been approved for the program and you are eligible to work. Also, it isn’t required that you work throughout your whole program. This program is intended as a way to experience Canada with the additional benefit of having a work permit.
Where can I work?
There are very few restrictions. Your permit will not initially allow you to work in education, childcare, or healthcare, but this restriction can be removed if you undergo a medical exam with a panel physician chosen by the government of Canada. Here’s a list of panel physicians.
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 in the program twice if you re-apply. There is limited space for returning participants, but we also offer the Work & Travel Canada - Young Professional program, which might be another option for a second year in Canada.
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. If you need support finding housing in Canada, you can consult with the SWAP team once you’re approved to travel.
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 before I get to Canada?
It’s possible to secure work independently prior to arriving in Canada, but many employers prefer a face-to-face interview. You’ll have access to a jobs database and it never hurts to do some initial searching and outreach before you get to Canada.
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, as of March 2019 U.S. citizens may participate on the program a second time. 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. We have limited space available for second-year participants.
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. However, you are able to work for multiple employers with this visa.