When we applied for visas to get into Canada and work for the year there was annoyingly little information about the process or even the visa itself online.
We knew that we needed to be aged between 18-30 at time of application, be for a commonwealth country and that you needed to have the funds to get home once you were there. We also knew that there was a certain number of visas available each year and that once you applied your name essentially went into a virtual hat and one in four would be selected. We also quickly discovered you couldn’t apply as a couple, meaning we each had to submit our own application and hope our names would be drawn together…
We didn’t know how much it would cost, how long it would take, what we’d need to provide until we were going along with the process.
It turned out what we needed was:
- valid passports
- bank statements to show we had enough money to fly us home
- a CV
- a police criminal record check
- a passport photo
So the only one we had to actually do something for was the criminal record check – submitting all our info to the police website and waiting three weeks for certificates.
We rounded up everything and put in the applications on 14th February 2017. Romantic, right?
The round opened in February as far as we could tell and the application stays in for a year, so all we had to do now was wait and see if we’d hear back.
Tom still hadn’t ever been to Vancouver at this point, so we decided we’d organise a trip in September. We arrived on the Saturday and on the Monday we were out having breakfast and both received emails inviting us to come to the country.
Considering the odds that only one in four people even get the visa it was pretty impressive that we both got ours on the same day and to top it off, whilst we already on holiday in Canada! It meant we could look at things differently for our two week vacation.
What’s weird is that although they invite you to the country you don’t have the visa yet. You get a letter saying you’re eligible but they’re very black and white about the fact that immigration will decide upon arrival as to whether you get the work permit or not.
We picked a date to travel and booked our flights in January, almost a year on from when we sent our applications.
We didn’t really give the visas much thought then until two weeks before our departure date. However, it was always in the back of our minds that you could still be denied entry even once you arrive (this is not a fun thought whilst arranging for tenants to move into your flat that you’re packing up!).
For our arrival the International Experience Canada website page (that’s the name of the visa we applied for) told us that we needed to bring with us evidence of the things from above:
- valid passports (easy)
- bank statements to show we had enough money to fly us home (bit more tricky…)
- a CV (easy)
- a police criminal record check (easy)Plus the addition of
- health insurance (last minute insurance shopping, but relatively easy)
The tricky bit… We had a bit of trouble with printing current bank statements – of course you can’t do that from home because the state,emits won’t download or aren’t up to date, you have to go to the bank to get a snapshot of your bank account at it’s current value. Thankfully the woman in nationwide was amazingly helpful and it wasn’t any trouble at all.
At the airport we had all of these documents in folders and even once our baggage was checked and normally you can relax, we were still conscious that we had the task of getting through immigration when we arrived.
The days running up to it I had been praying it’d be straight forward and that we’d be allowed the visas. There no reason we would be denied them, really. On the plane I was exhausted and just ready to be in Canada already so prayed for it to be ridiculously easy, not even one question. Quite a stupid prayer really considering we’re getting work permits for a year and there’s a list of documents we must bring to the immigration desk, but I was tired and like to pray audaciously sometimes.
We got through passport control and were told where to go next, so collected our bags and made our way to immigration. We walked through the winding queue barriers and sat down to wait as there was no queue. A few minutes later we were called up, the lady asked for our passports and what visa we after, we presented the letter of invitation with or passports and sat down to wait. Next thing was, she called us up and handed us our permits. Literally, no questions. It took us less time to get our permits than it did to get our bags off the carousel.
God had really been with us through this whole application process, opening up doors and making it easy, and giving us peace and calm about it when we needed it most. So glad to be doing this and knowing that God is with us! It’s definitely reassuring when all the trials come up.
Now that we’re here, we are ready to start the adventure!