So… I’ve been granted my Canadian working holiday visa, woo hoo! After a long process of filling out many forms, applying for certificates and loosing a fair bit of hair, it was all worth it in the end.
This process wasn’t exactly straight forward, so I thought I would write about my experience in the hopes of giving someone else the advice I would of benefitted from. This is definitely not a guide of any sort but it could give you some helpful tips.
The links below are not affiliate links they are ones I’ve genuinely used as I don’t know how to use affiliate links – doh!
Applying for a visa
First things first, you will need to check your eligibility and obtain a personal reference code which you can do here. Once you obtain a reference code, make sure you keep this safe and at hand. You will then need to register to create a GCkey for your account. Once all of this is complete, you will click on Apply to come to Canada where you will need your reference code, your national insurance number (assuming you’re from the UK) and passport. This is quite a quick and easy process and once completed, you will be added to the pool.
Getting chosen out of the pool
Don’t get the swimsuit out yet, this is just a metaphorical pool of candidates awaiting their invitation to apply. I was extremely fortunate with mine and was chosen after 4 weeks. It’s unlikely to get invited so quickly, so don’t be disheartened if yours takes longer. Some people have been waiting for over a year. Whilst you’re waiting, save up some cash, work through that life admin check list you’ve been neglecting and make a plan on what you want from your time in Canada.
Receiving your invitation
This will be a huge sigh of relief followed by a nice big dollop of anxiety. Only joking, well not really… it depends on how well you deal with filling out forms and applying for documents etc. This process can be different for everyone. I was required to complete and upload; a Family Form IMM5707, a CV/resume, a colour copy of my passport including any pages with stamps on, a digital photo (passport photo) and police certificates from any country I had been in for over six months.
When I saw this list my stomach twisted a little. I absolutely hate filling out CVs and filling one out for something so important, made me want to throw up.
Many photobooths now offer an option for visa images which are slightly larger than passport images. They also offer a digital photo which is sent to you via email, this is really useful for your application and future use.
You will need to complete this process on a laptop or a computer. It makes it much easier to organise and life is so much easier when it’s organised. It also avoids any distractions, such as your friends sending you a funny singing cat video which then tempts you into scrolling through the abyss of TikTok.
Also, make sure you’ve got a decent PDF viewer and Microsoft word (or alternative). I had a real problem opening the Family Form – PDFfiller was a saviour for this. There are a few websites I found really useful, which I’ll link below. They have free trials so they’re brilliant for creating what you need and not having to pay full whack for them. Ensuring you cancel before your free trial ends of course!
- PDFfiller – this was extremely helpful when filling out the family form and merging files
- ilovepdf another good one for PDFs
- Live Career great for creating CVs and cover letters
All of the sections are quite easy to fill out so I wont go into them too much. The only thing I will say is make sure that you fill out any gaps in employment. Gaps don’t look good and you want to avoid any questions further into your application.
When uploading your documents, there is only an option to add one file for each section so documents need to be merged into one. For example, the copy of your passport and any pages that have been stamped, will need to merged into one single PDF file.
Because of my time in Australia, I needed to get a police report from there in addition to the UK which took quite a while to arrive, so if you need one of these, make sure you apply for it before anything else. I also needed to obtain a Queensland traffic report which wasn’t requested until later in the process (I’ll go into that further down).
If your police report isn’t going to arrive in time, don’t panic. You can upload a receipt in its place to prove that you have applied and its on its way. They will request the certificate later on. I did this and it was no problem, it also enabled me to continue with my application.
Once you have uploaded and sent off all of your documents and it all goes well, you will be asked to book in for a Biometrics appointment. Depending on where you are this can be simple or a real pain in the behind. I spoke to a girl in Australia and she said there are only offices in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne. She lived on the Gold Coast and she had to fly to one of them to go to her appointment. What a nightmare!
I am from and currently living in Bristol so I had to get the coach to London, (which is nothing compared to that poor Australian girl). There is a company called Flixbus which I always use to travel to London. They’re really good value for money and reliable, just make sure you get there 10 mins early as I have seen them drive off five minutes early before. This usually costs around £4 for a return which is ridiculously cheap.
When I went to London, I couldn’t of picked a worse day. I played it safe (or so I thought) arriving early and going on a weekday to avoid peak times. We arrived half an hour later than we were meant to, which we put down to London traffic. We then ran to the tube (literally) only to find the entire underground was on strike. I was in a world of panic. We managed to hail down a taxi and I was miraculously only 15 minutes late for my appointment. Thankfully due to the circumstances they were very understanding. I went straight in for my appointment where I had to roll up my sleeves, look at the camera, give my fingerprints, look at the camera some more and I was done. They then applied a sticker on my passport which is not to be taken off. All in all, my appointment took around five minutes tops. My advice is to check the underground website, go on a weekday, do not travel during peak times, always give yourself plenty of time and use the toilet when you see one (our coach’s toilet was broken to add to the mix).
Queensland Traffic report
Once my biometrics were complete, I received a request for my Australian police report, which had finally arrived after 25 days of anxious waiting. This varies for everyone, as some people have said theirs only took four days to arrive, so I guess its just down to luck on that one.
Two days after this was uploaded and sent, I had a request for a Queensland traffic report which was not a simple process. There’s not much information online (well I couldn’t find much anyway) so here’s what I did:
Download and fill out a F2121 form here
Email it to email@example.com along with three forms of certified ID. I have added a picture of an example email below to help you.
For my three forms of ID, I used my passport, driving licence and credit card. Make sure that you cover the important numbers with a sticker/paper on your credit card and that you can clearly see the signature. To be clear both sides of the card need to be scanned. You can get this authorised at a bank or a solicitors, they create a copy for you so there is no need to bring your own.
Once I received my report back I uploaded it and within six hours I was granted my POE letter. Yipee!!!
My process took me around 5 weeks to complete which doesn’t sound very long but when you’re spending most of it anxiously waiting for the post, it’s quite nerve racking. I’m currently helping Mitch with his application and having done it all already, it’s gone a lot smoother than mine did. We are just waiting on his Australian Police report which like mine is taking forever.
I hope this post was helpful or at least gave you an insight on what and what not to do. Please note, this is just my experience and what I’ve done, it is in no way a step by step guide so please don’t comment to say what a dope I am, I am very, very aware. If you are reading this and still need some help, there is a fantastic Facebook group which has been a huge help to me, you can find it here.