Going Canada on IEC Visa during COVID-19

At the beginning of last year, I have decided to finally fulfil my goal of coming to Canada for some climbing and hiking adventures in the BC mountains. I knew that a long holiday would not be enough, and since I was single at the time I have decided to apply for an IEC visa (International Experience Canada) and plan a trip that could last 2 years.

I have started my application process through Alliance visas in August 2019, and in October I was selected and approved by the Government of Canada. There were a few things in between that I had to get done such as Police Certificate of my criminal record check, biometrics at the Canadian Embassy in London, and just filling out all applications on the Canadian Government website. There were also a few fees involved in the process so I made sure I hade some extra funds put aside for it. 

All in all the application process was super quick and if I had the funds at the time, I could even fly to Canada the same year. Here is a list of things I had to have in place to have my work permit approved when flying over:

  • Point of Entry letter  – received when the application is accepted.
  • Police certificate – official certificate is sent via post.
  • Passport – valid for the entire time of Canadian residence.
  • CV – Canadian resume layout is different than the UK, make sure to look some up before amending yours.
  • Qualifications Certificates – I have all my certificated digital so didn’t bring anything with me to hand.
Landing in Vancouver
  • Proof of Sufficient Funds in a form of bank statement – at least $ 2500 (my funds were not checked at the Canadian borders by the officers. I have had funds on my Revolut card which is super effective when flying anywhere.) – These funds could be in the form of:
    • cash,
    • securities in bearer form (for example, stocks, bonds, debentures, treasury bills), or
    • bankers’ drafts, cheques, travellers’ cheques or money orders.
  • Your health insurance should be valid – Your insurance must cover:
    • medical care,
    • hospitalization, and repatriation (returning you to your country in the event of severe illness, injury or death).
    • it has to cover you for the entire time you will stay in Canada 
  • Employment  – I had no luck finding jobs on my own so again I have used Alliance visas to help me out. They have found companies that hired individuals from abroad hence the ski season job I have been given.
  • Accommodation – I have used Facebook accommodation and Zumper to look for a room to rent.
  • Flights – check out Skyscanner, LastMinute, Expedia and other comparisons websites. I have chosen a direct one-way flight, to reduce the possibility of my baggage getting lost. 
  • Canadian Sim Card – I used PhoneBox – they will send you sim before you go away, but you can get this when in Canada.
  • Bank Account – open when in Canada
  • Tax Back ( UK)
  • Canadian Social Security Number – apply when in Canada.

I needed to save up first so I planned to start my travels in Summer 2020, unfortunate my thyroid op happened in May and Covid, and with Covid came additional restrictions put in place by the Canadian government. Now not only you had to meet the above requirements, but also:

  • have a valid job/job offer letter that will prove you are travelling for work.
  • health insurance has to cover COVID-19 as well.
  • it is mandatory to self isolate for 14 days alone or with people you are travelling with ( I have to book myself into a hotel and have that as my proof of self-isolation)
  • as of November 21, 2020, you must use ArriveCAN

I believe that since about March time no new visa application has been processed and the ones that were in the process have remained on hold. I was fortunate to have mine approved in October, but I did have to apply for an extension as my point of entry expired in October 2020. To apply for an extension you have to do it at least 30 days before the expiry date, and due to current circumstances, I have received extension till Match 2021, which means I could fly to Canada as late as that. 

It has been increasingly stressful with the new measure in place, however when I arrived at the super empty Vancouver airport, providing my POE letter, passport and job offer letter, everyone was super nice and friendly, really made me feel welcome. 

I am currently on my third day of isolation which it is super boring. I wish I was out there exploring the city, but it would be silly to get caught and fined heavily for breaking that self-isolation measures. All I currently have is my laptop, a couple of books to read, CNN on whenever I feel like watching the news and eating some organic food I bought online from this SPUD grocery store. I can do some sort of exercise on the bed as there is just no space on the floor, and I don’t have a yoga mat here (it will be the first thing I’ll buy as soon as move into the room I have rented).

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Greetings my dear reader. My name is Natalia and I am a 28-year-old Marketing with Advertising graduate from around the Midlands in England. I love to travel and do loads of road trips, but above everything, I love climbing adventures with my climbing buddies. With this blog, I would like to be able to note down my thoughts and share my adventures I can look back at in years’ time with a smile on my face. I am also on a search for more exciting adventures and self-development. Since I absolutely adore natural world I also want to develop my knowledge and skills to reduce as much waste as I can that is bad for the environment. I like feedback and others input so I always want to hear other people’s experiences and ideas.

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