This time around, I just wanted to share some information about the organization I am going through and the preliminary visa process for those who might be interested and find it useful.
I have decided to go through SWAP Working Holidays for this adventure. It took gathering quite a few opinions and a lot of mental debate on whether to go through a third party organization or save the money and do it on my own. To be honest, I probably could do it on my own with the amount of research I have done in the past couple of months (more about that later) but at the end of the day, I like the idea of having someone I can go to for advice and support. To summarize, on the Canada end SWAP helps you with the process to obtain the visa. They go through the paperwork with you and all the other extras, as well as answer your questions and ensure that there are no mistakes once the information is sent off. This alone makes it seem worth it to me, as a simple mistake can cost you the visa fee all over again. Then on the other side of the “pond”, they work with a sister company called Brit Bound that offers support for job hunting and accommodations, as well as a few extra tidbits. From what I have heard, the job support is minimal but even if it is just someone to help me correct my CV, then it is worth it. So end of the story is that I decided to register with this company.
Just a few important points that I have discovered while conversing with SWAP in regards to the visa timeline and regulations and such:
- You can register for SWAP a year in advance BUT the actual visa application can only be post dated three months.
-e.g.: I want to leave for March 1st, so even though I register for SWAP in June, I would not lodge the application until December 1st.
- The SWAP process can take up to 8 weeks – from registration to having the visa back in your hands.
- Once you lodge the application you cannot leave the country until the visa process is complete. They take your passport as part of the process.
- You have to get bio-metric testing done (which sounds more intense then it really is).
-There are only a select few offices in Canada that offer this service, so you will have to make your way to the closet one. The locations that I could find are: Vancouver, Edmonton,Toronto & Ottawa, with once month office in Halifax and mobility centers in St. John’s.
- Once this process is complete, you cannot enter the United Kingdom before your visa validity date
So there you have it, the preliminary process all laid out for you. I feel better knowing that I am going through SWAP so I will have someone to help me along the way, but if you are someone who feels more comfortable with paperwork and regulations etc, I do not actually think it would be that hard of a process to obtain the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa.
Now onto the good stuff. I registered for SWAP in July, because I was just so darn excited! I filled out a basic information form on the website, paid my fee and then waited for emails with more information. The first email that I received was from a travel consultant through Adventure Travel in Calgary, AB. I guess that SWAP works with these companies to act as the person to person contact throughout your application process. The introduction email was great and it has been nice having a real person to go to for all my questions and concerns.
The next email I received was from SWAP themselves. This email contained three attachments:
- Welcome Letter – This document laid out the entire process for me, discussed all the documents I would need and also featured detailed information regarding each point of the visa application. Very helpful resource to keep handy!
- The SWAP UK Visa application – This is for me to fill out and then send to my travel consultant to be checked over. SWAP then takes that application and uses it to fill out the actual British Government one online.
- Insurance Waiver Form – SWAP requires that anyone going through one of their programs be covered for a minimum amount of insurance. They offer insurance to purchase but this form would be if I already had the required insurance coverage.
And that is all! The next step is to fill out the application and get all of my documents in order to send off to my travel consultant, and then go from there. This next step will not be happening for me until after the Florida trip in February (see point #3) so stay tuned for the rest of the process in the new year!
Until then, I hope this post helped provide on some insight on the start of the paperwork process.
– xoxo Veronica