So, around May when I was lolling around, waiting for the work that would never come (seriously, I have wasted so much time in New Zealand thanks to Te Puke), I put my mind towards Canada, the next step on my list. The one thing everyone had told me was that getting Canada’s visa is extremely hard. Unlike Oz and New Zealand, they only give out a limited number to the UK, and in 2014, they sold out in about 30 minutes. With this in mind, I decided to throw my hat in early, and note my interest as soon as I could.
Despite all the warnings? Within 6 weeks I had my letter of invitation, and I’m planning my adventure to another part of the world for next year.
Still not entirely sure how I managed to get mine so easily, or so quickly, but figure I’ll list what I did to help out anyone trying to figure out the hoops. It’s definitely a lot harder than the standard working visa, but after Russia and China, there’s not a visa migration form I can’t handle!
First stop? Head over to the IEC website and hunt down their visa section. It’s not the easiest section to find, and it’s probably best to look for the GC Key page first. In order to apply, you’ll need a profile with one of their Sign In Partners, or like me, a GCKey. This costs nothing, but is a hassle to find, so make sure to bookmark it. Googling GCKey along with IEC usually works.
Once that’s done, the next step is listing one’s interest. This is a pretty simple form, looking for basic details and costs nothing. Once complete, it gets tossed into the big pool of Canadian hopefuls, waiting for the next invitation release. From what I understand, to help cope with the demand, Canada are now staggering how many visas are released at any time, and your name remains in the pool for a year. I apparently got my name in there only a few weeks before the next release, and obtained an invitation to apply within 2 weeks.
Here’s where it gets tricky – especially if you’ve lived in several countries. You have ten days to open up the invitation and start your application, however – once opened? You have 20 days to send it out. With this in mind, don’t immediately open up the file and start filling things out – instead, prepare your documents, especially your Police Reports.
New Zealand is the worst for this, as although the report is free, it takes 20 working days to arrive – which means you won’t get it in time unless you request it before you start your application. If you were smart and requested it before you even applied (and it’s less than 6 months old), then you can ignore this advice. As for Australia and the UK, I had to pay for both of them, but in order to avoid the heavy international postage fees, I had them sent to my parents who then sent me scans. If you can find an address that will forward them to you like this DO IT. The postage for International delivery on Police Checks is almost as bad as the price of the reports themselves.
With that done, and when the deadline is a few days away, open up that file and start filling out the information. There’s nothing really complicated about it – biggest issue is Address History. If like me you’re backpacking at the time, just remember that it’s not considered a permanent address unless you’ve lived there 3 months – so if you’ve lived in half a dozen hostels, just list the ones you stayed at for long stays. My biggest issue was that my uni days were not 10 years behind me and I had to try and remember addresses from a lifetime ago. I move A LOT.
There’s also a section on occupation which can be fun – just try to be as accurate as you can. Given how it’s set out, that’s not always easy, but you can generally find an option in the drop down menu to describe at least one aspect of your former jobs.
Once you’ve finished filling out the form, DOUBLE CHECK EVERYTHING. This should just be common knowledge for any form, but so many people don’t and send it off with an obvious error or misspelling – and that can come back and haunt you.
Finally, once the form is complete, move forward. You can still come back and double check until you’ve paid, but now you have to worry about the really fun bit. Attaching your required forms.
Up first is a Family Form where requests your parent’s addresses and occupations, as well as your partner and children’s details. You also need to attach your police reports and passport. Both of these however, can be tricky as you can only list one file to each section. So if you have multiple Police Checks, you’ll need to merge them into one PDF file – there are plenty of free programs online so do a quick Google search.
The passport can also be tricky. If you check the additional information provided, you’ll see Canada doesn’t just want the photo, but EVERY page that has a stamp. If you’re a backpacker…this can be fun. Again, you can fuse the files together through free programs online.
Also, if Firefox is your preferred browser, you might need to discard it and give Chrome a try for this – Firefox hates attaching these files and causes no end of trouble. Chrome doesn’t have that issue.
Once everything’s attached and you’re happy with your application, it’s time to hand over the cash. Head over to the payment page and pay the application and visa fee. When you get that confirmation email, all you can do is wait.
For me, it took less than two weeks. Over that time you might get multiple emails from IEC insisting you have new documents, and most of them will be red herrings. Eventually though, you’ll either receive a rejection, or like me, a letter of invitation – allowing you to arrive in Canada to receive your visa, and the dates you need to be there by.
I’m so giddy from it. I really wasn’t sure I’d be able to get there at all, but it all worked out really well for me. Have to get there before June, and thinking I’ll head there in March in order to get the most of out the Summer/Winter seasons.