Whilst in Morocco I was inspired by one of my fellow tour members who was coming to England to do the same visa I’m on now. I had been complaining about having to go home early next year, when she suggested why don’t I just go to Canada instead?
I’ve never really thought about going to Canada before, I must admit. I know it’s beautiful and the people are lovely, but the harsh winters and grizzly bears have always put me off. But she got the idea in my head, so I did a little bit of research when I got home, and then just applied for the visa without trying to overthink it too much. A bit of cash and two police checks later, I am now the proud owner of an International Experience Canada (IEC) Working Visa.
I thought I’d write about this, because in my research I didn’t find one straightforward blog or guide about to moving to Canada. And since I imagine many people will be fleeing the USA soon, I thought this might come in handy.
The IEC visa is a two year working holiday visa, much like the UK Tier 5 one, however there are several differences when it comes to applying.
Firstly you can apply up to a year before you plan on leaving, as opposed to up to three months beforehand with the UK. Once you have your IEC invitation letter, you can enter Canada within a year.
To apply go to the IEC website and double check you’re eligible, then follow the instructions to create a profile. Once you’ve done this, you submit your application to the pool and if you’re invited to apply, then you put together your application. For Australians there are unlimited places, so you’re pretty much guaranteed a spot, but check the conditions if you’re not an Aussie.
Once you’ve been sent an invitation to apply, you’ll have 7 days to submit your application. The main thing that can take some time with this are the police checks you need, which adds an unexpectedly expense to the top of the visa fee (or in my case two unexpectedly expenses because I had to get both UK and Australian checks done). Please note I believe Canada are pretty strict when it comes to any convictions in your past, I have a friend who was refused a visitor’s visa because he had a speeding ticket from 9 years ago. Don’t hold me to that, but double check if you think it might be an issue for you.
You’ll also have to submit a copy of your CV, details about your immediate family, and a passport-sized photo. Once you’ve submitted everything, you get to play the waiting game.
Once you have your visa
Once your visa has been approved (congrats by the way) then the real fun begins.
One of the more annoying conditions of entry is that you need to have two years worth of travel insurance BEFORE you enter the country, because you won’t be covered by the Canadian health system (I still can’t believe that North America doesn’t get the concept of Medicare/the NHS/free healthcare). This is slightly more difficult, as not many insurance companies will sell two year policies, and if they do they’re fucking expensive. You are given the working visa when you arrive at customs, so if you only have one year’s worth of insurance, then you’ll only get a one year visa.
I’ve found one company that I haven’t used yet, but have been very fast and helpful in answering all my questions, called Best Quote Travel Insurance. They do specialised plans for IEC holders, so it’s worth checking them out. Keep in mind some policies become void if you leave Canada during your visit, so make sure you get one that has trip breaks permitted (because let’s face it, you’re going to nip down the USA at least once).
You will need a minimum of $2500 CAD before you enter the country, however the proof you need to show at the border needs to be dated no more than 7 days beforehand, which may be annoying if you were planning on travelling for a bit before heading north and didn’t want to have to worry about finding a printer. But it’s doable.
I’ll add more details as I go along, since I’m not actually moving there til April 2017!
Listening to: Riding the Low
Watching: Star Trek Beyond
Reading: The Vinyl Detective – Written in Dead Wax, by Andrew Cartmel
Current man-crush: Karl Urban