So we have officially made it through the application process for a one year working travel visa in Canada. Whilst stressful (and often rage inducing) at the time, we now retrospectively agree that the process is not only relatively painless but also pretty efficient.
We thought a nice first post to this new blog, aimed at documenting our experiences in Canada over the next year, would be a discussion of what to expect when applying through the new (as of 2013) online system. We both felt that instruction and information from the Canadian High Commission (CHC) was severely lacking and hope that we can provide a useful (and reassuring) guide for those applying in future.
We decided the IEC was something we wanted to do about a year ago, but as we were both in our final year at university we decided to leave applying till after graduation. Unfortunately (or fortunately) this meant we missed the boat for applying in the 2012 batch of visas, and wouldn’t be able to apply till December at the earliest. So we both found jobs in Edinburgh and began saving! In the long run we have both agreed this was actually a good thing as it has allowed us to be in a better financial position for going, whilst also having some time to enjoy Edinburgh as non-students.
When December came we were prepared for applying but hadn’t heard anything about when the applications were going to open. We’d say this is about the time it started to become stressful – weeks of continually checking the website for information ensued. Eventually, news came on the 18th January. The website was updated – “IEC initiative has not yet opened for applications. It will open before February 1, 2013, and more information on the online process will be made available on this website. ” Finally we had a date to aim for! However, as this date approached the CHC were suspiciously quiet, until the night before the 1st, when this information was removed – with no explanation. This was hugely disappointing and yet another set back; we were back to constantly monitoring the website.
Flash forward two agonising weeks, and with no warning it was open as of 5pm on the 14th of February. We frantically scrambled to get home and get the part one of the application filled out. Thom was meant to be at work but thanks to the kindness of co-workers managed to get home. There were a thousand places up for grabs that night and thankfully we both managed to get one – they had all gone by 8pm! We’d made it through the first hoop! It’s worth noting here that for stage one all you really need is a decent scan of your passport (we made ours using the CamScanner app for android!) You’ll also need a detailed employment history, with exact dates that you started and finished all your jobs over the last five years. If you’ve had more than three jobs in the last five years you have to send them a message with these details as the site only allows for three.
The next step was to pay the Canadian High Commission £100 for the visa, get proof of payment and upload it to your account. We decided to try and do this at the bank to ensure the proof of payment would have all the necessary components, having heard some Irish applicants had problems with online reciepts. However, making payments of this kind in person at the bank means paying ~£25 administration fees (this is true for both RBS and The Bank of Scotland from our experience), unless you are with Barclays (which is where the Canadian High Commission holds an account here in the UK). The Bank of Scotland said it would be free if we did it online so we decided to make a payment of £1 to one of our own accounts to see what the receipt would look like and decide if it would be suitable. After making a payment you get a two page PDF with all the relevant information neatly contained, which we could easily upload to the kompass account. We decided to bite the bullet and just make the payment online. We were relieved when the very next evening we received an email confirming that our proof of payment had been verified. Next up was waiting for our conditional acceptance to come through, which would allow us to move to stage two.
This came through fairly promptly, arriving early evening on the 21st of February. Keen to get our application on its way we filled out part two that night. Again this was fairly straight forward, the site was quite temperamental due to the high traffic, but we managed to persevere and get it done. At this stage you needed a scan of your passport (and any stamped pages), a scan of your police check certificate, your CV and a passport picture. You also have to give details of your immediate family – date of birth, occupation and current address. Once this was completed we checked it over and hit submit. Our fate was in their hands so we agreed to try to just forget about it until they got back in touch, which could take anywhere up to four weeks.
In the early hours on the 5th of March (less than 20 days from when we had started applying) we got our letter of introduction! We’d made it through without a hitch!
Overall, it is a bit of a stressful process, especially if like us you have been looking forward to it for a long time. But, as long as you take your time, and make sure everything is correct their is no reason you shouldn’t sail through it like we did. The best advice we can offer to any future applicant is to try and remain patient and calm (as hard as it may be)! Don’t get too hung up over comments posted on forums as while they can often offer reassurance, they are equally responsible for spreading doubt and panic. At the end of the day, it is in the CIC’s interest to get applicants through the process.
We are hoping to leave at the end of this month and plan to spend the majority of our year in Vancouver. We plan to travel round as much as our jobs and funds will permit. Hopefully, we can keep this blog up as a record of our travels…
Now to get those pesky flights sorted!
TL;DR Made it through in first batch on 14th Feb, made payment on the 15th Feb, proof of payment verified on the 16th Feb, conditional acceptance and part two completed on the 21st Feb, letter of introduction 5th Mar. We plan to head to Vancouver towards the end of March.