How Americans Can Move To Canada: International Experience Canada

Me holding a Canadian flag in Ottawa on Canada Day

Me holding a Canadian flag in Ottawa on Canada Day

Were you one of these Americans? If so, I might have a temporary solution for you! But the U.S has everything from mountains to oceans to deserts to forests spread across 50 diverse states so why would an American want to pack up and live in a different country one might ask? Putting the political climate aside, that's a great question. However, for someone with only an American passport that does want to go live in a another country, the US makes it incredibly difficult to go do. Without a work visa or sponsored program, U.S citizens can only get working visas in these 5 countries below:

  • Singapore
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • South Korea
  • Ireland

These visas are called working holiday visas and it is rarely publicized or talked about in the US.

What Are Working Holiday Visas?

A Working Holiday Visa is a visa for recent college graduates or youth between the ages of 18-30 (sometimes it goes up to 35) that allows that person to legally live and work in a country for a year or more. The program is meant for youth to get international experience and open their minds to different cultures and societies. The restrictions depend on reciprocal agreements between your country and other countries. For example, Australia has Working Holiday Agreements with around 40 countries. The U.S has 5 agreements…(You can tell I am not happy about this fact ):) Usually, one can apply shortly before arriving in a country, but it is best to check ahead of time since each agreement is different.

 Canadian Visas For Foreigners

I was interested in obtaining a Canadian visa after visiting Montréal for a bit and I decided I wanted to try to land in the city for a bit (I also fell in love with this place). I quickly learned that getting a visa for Canada was a confusing and complicated process. Basically, there are three types of Canadian Working Visas. They are listed below:

  • Canadian Express Entry Work Permits
  • Canadian Student Visa
  • Québec Skilled Worker Program

These are the three main visas that you will find when you search for work visas in Canada. Of course, there are spouse/partner visas, provincial nominee programs, but I will not get into details about these. If you are interested in more information for any of the visas mentioned above, please visit this link or take a look at my suggested readings featured below. The only one I could answer some questions about is the Québec program, so feel free to reach out about that.

I can work at Tim's now!

“Grant, I thought you said U.S Citizens could only apply for working holidays in 5 countries and you clearly didn’t go through the process for the other visas, so how did you get a Canadian work permit?

Both of these statements are true, but there is a little known program that I originally thought was a scam. It is a loophole in the process and if I didn’t meet Bruce, my Couchsurfing host in Ottawa, I would have never gone through with the process!

The visa is called International Experience Canada (IEC). Sure, Australians can apply right now, but so can Americans! The way it works for Americans is that you have to go through an R.O (Recognized Organization) that will help you plan your travel and find work. There are various organizations out there, but I used InterExchange. They all work with an organization called, SWAP, to make IEC happen for Americans. In other words, these organizations are the go between you and SWAP. I found InterExchange to be very helpful throughout the entire process and worked with a woman named Melissa who responded very quickly to any questions I had through the entire process.It costs $395 USD plus $226 CAD ($185 USD) for the IEC participation and work permit fee that is valid for one year, but if you are looking for a more permanent move to Canada this book is a good place to start. You must be 18-35, have a high school diploma, and 2,500 CAD (2,046USD) in savings along with travel health insurance before you enter the country. The great news is if you are an American, they removed the university or college student requirement this year. InterExchange will walk you through this part. (If you do sign up, be sure to write my name down as a reference! Here's how to do it)

TBT: The poster from my Canada D'eh Workout

TBT: The poster from my Canada D'eh Workout

There are 5 steps to send in your IEC application. InterExchange sent me this detailed sheet that explains exactly how to apply. Screenshots from each step are listed below:


Step 1:

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Step 2:

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Step 3:

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Step 4:

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Step 5:

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I received my visa in about 6 weeks so it can take more or less time depending on when you applied. As I understand, the 2017 applications close September 15th so if you are interested, apply immediately! If you have any questions, I’d be happy to help you.


Grant Simon17 Comments