Whistralia – the nickname given to the Canadian ski resort destination, Whistler, due to the heavy concentration of Australians living and working there – could be about to get a whole lot more Whistralian.
As of November 1, the age limit for Canadian working holiday permits granted to Australians will increase from 30 to 35. And though that means a bigger pool of Aussies looking for work in Canada, it doesn't mean more competition for permits. Australia is the only country in the world with unlimited access to International Experience Canada (IEC) permits. (Other countries have annual quotas.)
The reciprocal agreement also sees the age limit raised identically for Canadians wanting to work in Australia, the top destination of choice for our fellow Commonwealth citizens heading overseas to mix business with pleasure.
While there are three types of permits available to Australians: the Young Professionals, International Co-op and Working Holiday versions, according to Moving2Canada, an immigration consultancy, the latter is by far the most sought after, with another Rocky Mountains snow destination, Banff Alberta, listed alongside Whistler as the most popular spot for Australians taking casual employment.
The Working Holiday permit gives up to 24 months in Canada with no restrictive stipulations such as employer sponsorship, designation of job type or location requisite. You can job hop as much as you like, too. All you need is a valid Australian passport for the duration of the stay, to be aged 18-35, have the equivalent of $C2500 on landing, have health insurance for the full duration of the stay, have a round-trip ticket or enough money to buy a ticket home, and pay a total of $C250 in fees.
You also cannot be accompanied by dependants and – it should go without saying – should be admissible to Canada, that is, not be a security risk or have ties with organised crime, etc.
In addition to the 24-month permits, Australians can get another 12 months in Canada with the International Co-op study visa.
This one applies to employer-specific work allowing students to gain targeted experience in their field of study. The Young Professionals permit is also employer-specific and designed to give professional work experience in a specific field of study or career path.
Canada's IEC program began in 1965 as a cultural exchange with Germany. It was so successful, the scheme was expanded to other countries two years later.
Australia's Working Holiday Maker program is across two classes of permits and currently extends to 41 countries, including the United Kingdom, United States, a number of European countries, and in Asia, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Canada is the only country to which the increased age limit applies, though it's suggested others may follow.
The number of Australians heading to Canada has doubled over the past 10 years, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures. More than 31,000, a record number, visited during Canada's winter in January this year.