When I decided to make an account and enter it into the pool for a Canadian working holiday visa, my hopes weren’t that high. However, I got my visa MUCH quicker than most (I’m very grateful) and therefore I was able to plan my move earlier than planned. I’m moving to Canada for a year starting in December 2019, and I thought I’d share the process here.
I’ll probably make another post that goes into the extreme details of the step-by-step instructions to get a working holiday visa specifically, but this post will be more about the generalized information about the process.
What is the Working Holiday Visa?
The Working Holiday visa for UK applicants (details for other countries may be different – I discuss the process for USA applicants a little bit later on) is a two year visa. This means you can live, work, and party – if you’re into that – in Canada for up to two years. You are not limited to one work place, one province, or even to work at all. You can get started HERE.
Am I Eligible?
To be eligible for a UK > Canada working holiday visa you must meet the following requirements:
– Your home country must have an agreement with Canada, or in some cases (such as the USA) you can use a recognised organisation.
– You HAVE NOT participated in the International Experience Canada (had a working holiday visa) before for Canada.
– Be between 18 and 30 (UK only.)
– Have around £300 to pay the fees.
– Your passport must be eligible past the ending point of your possible visa. If your two year visa would end in 2021, your visa needs to expire after that point. If you need a new passport to cover this, do it before you enter the pool.
These eligibility requirements are only there for you to be able to actually enter the pool. Not for a visa.
What’s a Pool?
First you make an account. To make an account, you need to go www.Canada.ca and navigate your way to the immigration pages. From there, you can click on ‘my application’, where you can make a new account for a visa application.
When you make an account, it’ll give you instructions for things like a GCKey, etc. Those things will be explained my step-by-step post in more detail. The account that you make can then be entered into the pool. Each eligible country for IEC has a pool of candidates for a working holiday visa. The amount of people in the pool can be infinite, but each country only has a certain quota of visa’s that they give out each year. The beginning date of when each pool opens is usually around October/November time of each year.
The UK pool is quite popular. However, I entered in January thinking that I wouldn’t get invited this year due to the pool being so popular. I got invited 6 days later. The chance that you get an invite from the pool is completely random. There is no minimum or maximum time, some people never get an invite, even after applying for years. When the current pool closes, you can enter the next year’s pool, and so on. The UK quota is 5,000, but I’ve since learned that they usually will add quite a lot of visa’s to that quota throughout the pool year.
I’m in the UK Pool, now what?
Now you wait. Hopefully you won’t be waiting too long, but as I mentioned beforehand, some people wait days, some weeks, some months or years. It really is random. If you entered closer to the beginning of the pool year then you will have a greater chance at getting a visa.
You’ll get an email to tell you that there’s a new message in your account, when you get invited. Sometimes these emails get sent out and there’s nothing new in the account. This is normal, sometimes immigration opens your profile or updates something on your account that you can’t see – therefore you get notified. Don’t worry!
Once invited, congratulations! If everything goes smoothly from this point, you’re pretty much guaranteed entry to Canada. The next bit is the difficult, and in my opinion, more nerve-wracking part.
Completing your application.
Once you get an invite, everything has a time limit, so stay very aware of what point you’re at and what’s going on at all times. You have 10 days to accept your invite. This gives you extra time to make sure that you have the money to pay the visa fees, things like that. Once you accept the invite, you have 20 days to complete the application, pay the fees, and submit it.
The application itself is pretty straightforward, however some things aren’t really explained properly which are pretty vital. Things such as inputting your work and education history – you need to make sure there are NO GAPS in-between each job and/or educational period. For example:
Waitress – December 2015 – March 2016
Chef – July 2016 – December 2017
This would be wrong, as there is a gap between March and July 2016 which hasn’t been explained to immigration. If you were unemployed in that time, you would need to input that as ‘unemployed’ or ‘studying’ if you were studying.
All the documents that immigration requires from your case in particular will be listed on one page of your application. As you upload each required document, it will tell you that it has been uploaded but NOT submitted. This is because you haven’t paid the fees yet. If you need a police check, or a medical check (if you’d like to work in healthcare or childcare, this is mandatory), these things can complicate the process slightly.
The official page for instructions on the application process is HERE but I recommend reading lots of sources of information to gather the most honest and reliable info.
Fees for the working holiday visa in IEC for the UK are as follows (in CAD and GBP):
Working Holiday Visa permit – $100 CAD / £56.85 GBP
Participation Fee – $150 CAD / £85.25 GBP
Biometrics Fee – $85 CAD / £48.30 GBP
Biometrics are a new requirement from 2019. These are fingerprints and a photo of yourself, which I personally had to travel to London for (1 hour on the train) as the VAC’s (Visa application centre’s) where they are facilitated from are sparse. Find yours HERE. Also be aware that this list does not include the police check (my own was £45) and a medical exam (I didn’t need this as I’m not working in healthcare or with children, but I’ve heard quotes of up to £500).
After you’ve submitted your application…
Waiting, again, sorry! If you did everything correctly, this part of the ‘waiting process’ can take up to 8 weeks. A lot of people get nervous after a few weeks and don’t realise that the cut off point to start worrying is 8 weeks. CIC (Canada immigration) suggests that if you don’t get a response to your application within 8 weeks then you submit a webform on the website.
There’s a couple of things you need to start considering at this point – Insurance, and proof of funds. Every person who enters Canada with a working holiday visa needs to have proof of funds of $2500 (£1420) and have insurance that covers them for the length of their visa. If you only have one year of insurance booked, you will only get a one year visa! This is massively important, as UK applicants automatically get two years. Don’t get caught out with less time than you’re entitled to.
For insurance I recommend True Traveler, as they have gotten the most glowing reviews for people from the UK, and are reasonably priced (about £550 for two years, which is pretty good for quality insurance and 0 excess).
The only reason I can speak on this process is because my boyfriend did it. As a US citizen, there isn’t an agreement with Canada in the usual fashion of working holiday visa’s like described above. You have to go through a recognised organisation such as BUNAC, FROSCH, or Interexchange. These organisations are extremely popular and their spaces often get very quickly filled – even my boyfriend, who is American, cut it close with his application.
You are guaranteed a visa if you are accepted onto one of their programs. They pretty much do most of it for you. You have to go through the same application process, but the waiting is less nerve wracking as you know you’re getting a visa at some point anyway – that is, if you’re not a criminal and you paid your fees!
The price of these varies, but is slightly more money compared to the regular process. You do get some extra’s with them. If you’re from the UK, I wouldn’t suggest going through a recognised organisation. There are amazing Facebook groups such as O’Canada, (you’ll need to apply to join the group) who have files upon files of information about every subject you could possibly think of – do not pay an extra £300 for no reason!
When you get your visa…
It will come in the form of a PoE letter. DOWNLOAD THIS, PRINT IT OUT 4 TIMES, STICK IT TO YOUR WALL, MAKE IT YOUR PHONE BACKGROUND! These letters have been known to just… disappear! (Helpful, I know) from your account.
Your PoE letter will have a date on it. This should be exactly a year from when you receive the letter in your inbox; meaning you have one year to enter Canada otherwise your visa expires. You will only get your ACTUAL visa once you step foot inside of Canada. When you go to Canada, take this letter, proof of funds ($2500 at least – a bank statement dated within a week of arrival), proof of 2 years of insurance, copies of every document you provided during the application process, proof of money for and/or a flight out of Canada, and your passport.
Great you’re done! Now you just need to sort out somewhere to live, a job, money, healthcare, your mobile phone, your banking… Okay, maybe you’re not done?