Updated 19/02/2013 – The process for application to the IEC from 2013 has changed significantly to the one posted below, so please check the official IEC UK website.

So you have decided you want to live and work in Canada, what now? Well, there are various options for gaining permanent residency which I won’t go into (because I don’t understand them) which are often lengthy and only suitable for certain people. If you’re not lucky enough to be able to go down this route then there are other options available to you, one of which is the International Experience Canada programme. This allows you to apply for a one year working holiday visa to live and work in Canada. At present you’re allowed two of these one year visas in your lifetime, although there have been recent talks to change this to a single two year visa for residents of Ireland. Whether this will happen for the UK as well I don’t know. The only other important eligibility criteria is that you must be under the age of 30 (right up until your 31st birthday is fine) at the time of applying.

In 2012 the quota for residents of the UK was 5,350. The programme opened in December 2011 (I think) and all places had been taken by June 2012. The main things that you will need to do in order to apply for your visa and gain entry to Canada are:

  • Apply for an ACRO Police Certificate
  • Complete the IEC application form which is made available on the Government of Canada website when the yearly programme is opened (usually around November/December time each year)
  • Two photocopies of the identification pages of your passport
  • Complete the ‘Application for work permit made outside of Canada’ form (IMM1295)
  • Complete the ‘Family information form’ (IM5645)
  • Two recent passport photos
  • A complete and up-to-date CV covering at least the past 5 years
  • Complete the ‘Medical Examination Declaration’

This might look like a lot of work, but in all honesty once you have all the forms downloaded it shouldn’t take you longer than an hour or two to fully complete them. The thing you’ll spend the most time doing is double and triple checking. If you have any concerns about the forms and what information you’re supposed to enter in certain sections then it’s worth looking for Facebook groups (I’m in a Facebook group for ‘IEC 2012’ and it proved to be a great resource for information during the application process).

It’s worth noting that the above process is what was required in 2012, this process could change for 2013 and future IEC programmes so be sure to visit the Government of Canada website for the latest information and guides on how to complete the process.

Once you have sent of your application form there are a few different stages before you receive your Letter of Introduction (LOI), the document which allows you to get your visa when you land in Canada. A word of warning, it can take a couple of months from sending your application to receiving your LOI. To give you an idea, we submitted our applications in February 2012, we received our Confirmation of Receipt (COR) on 9th March 2012, and we waited until 19th April 2012 before we had any further contact, at which point we had to submit payment for our application. On the 23rd April 2012 our application had passed the IEC eligibility criteria and was passed on to High Commission of Canada to the United Kingdom for the second phase of evaluation. Finally, on the 3rd May 2012 I received my LOI, Natalie’s took a little longer as there was a mix up with some emails, meaning she received hers in early June.

So we finally had what we needed to move to Canada. At this point it’s important to mention that when you receive your LOI you will have one year to activate it, meaning that you must arrive in Canada and get your visa before a year passes. When you arrive in Canada you will need to make sure you have the following:

  • Your LOI
  • Your Passport (an obvious one really as you probably wouldn’t get far without it)
  • Proof of private healthcare insurance (we’ll talk about insurers at a later date when we finally buy ours)
  • Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself for two months, this is around $2,500 (£1,600 roughly)
  • Declaration card (completed and signed on the plane)

I hope this is useful for anyone out there thinking of moving to Canada. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment.

Be sure to check out the main IEC pages on the Government of Canada website – International Experience Canada