Ben, and his girlfriend Orla, moved to Canada at the end of summer in 2019. They worked a ski season at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta, before working at the boathouse on Lake Louise itself in the summer of 2020. In this guest article, find out how to move to Canada from Ireland or the United Kingdom.
They are going to outline the process of working in Canada as an Irish/UK citizen – how to secure a working holiday visa, where to find jobs, and some handy first-timer tips for moving to Canada.
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How to move to Canada from Ireland or United Kingdom: Working Holiday Visa
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In the summer of 2019, we decided that we wanted to work in Canada for an extended period of time. It is a country that we had heard lots about, and after furiously googling places to visit and things to do, we made the decision to go ahead and apply for a visa.
Originally heralding from the UK and Ireland, we knew we weren’t able to start working in Canada until we had our working holiday visas approved.
In this article, we shall outline the process of obtaining a Canadian Working Holiday Visa for UK and Irish citizens. We shall also be sharing our experiences of working in Canada, along with some of the highlights of our adventure.
We shall then endeavour to provide you with some handy tips and tricks for working in Canada, and where you should begin to look for jobs and accommodation.
Choosing the correct Canadian Visa
In order to work in Canada, as a foreign citizen, you need to be able to obtain a visa. Of course, there are a number of different options available to you when applying for a visa, so it is important to choose the right visa for your situation.
For example, if you are looking to study in Canada, then a student visa would be perfect. If you’re looking to move to Canada on a permanent basis, then the process of securing a permanent residency visa would be more appropriate.
For our circumstances, we knew that we only wanted to live in Canada temporarily, to experience the allure of a Canadian winter, and we had no intentions of studying. It soon became clear that the best visa for us would be the Canadian Working Holiday Visa.
Obtaining the Canadian Working Holiday Visa
Obtaining your Canadian Working Holiday Visa, as an Irish/UK citizen, is a long process so we would recommend starting the process at least 6 months before you intend on arriving in Canada.
Underneath is a brief 5-step outline of the working holiday visa application process.
Note – Due to the pandemic in 2020, applicants for a working holiday visa MUST have a job offer before applying for a working holiday visa. Without a job offer already in place, you will not be eligible for a working holiday visa.
Checking eligibility – you must visit the Canadian government visa website and ensure that you are eligible for a working holiday visa.
Submit your profile to the ‘Working Holiday Visa Pool’ – submitting your entry to the visa pool essentially means you are stating your interest in applying for a working holiday visa.
The UK and Ireland are only allocated a small number of Canadian working holiday visas each year, so you are not guaranteed to get one.
Be accepted into the Working Holiday Visa Program – once you have submitted your entry to the working holiday visa pool, you must wait for an email confirming that you have been accepted into the program.
Note – This email may take up to 3 months to receive.
Submitting Application and paying your fees – once you have received your email accepting you into the program, you can go ahead and submit your full visa application and pay the relevant fees.
Note – at this point, you may be required to submit a full medical examination from a registered doctor.
Providing Biometrics – you will have to provide a full 10-finger fingerprint record before obtaining your visa. This must be done in your home country, at a registered biometrics centre, before entering Canada.
You will be refused entry on a working holiday visa without first going through this process.
Once you have gone through the arduous process of completing all 5 of these steps, you will receive a Port of Entry Letter. Once you get to a Canadian border, you will show the officers your letter, and they will be able to grant you a Canadian Working Holiday Visa.
Securing a working holiday visa for Canada is a very long and very tiring process. As we mentioned earlier, be sure to apply well in advance of your anticipated arrival date in Canada.
Securing a temporary Job in Canada
One thing to note before we outline how we were able to secure our seasonal job – as mentioned previously, COVID-19 protocols now mandate that you secure a solid job offer before arriving in Canada.
You are unable to secure a working holiday visa without this. When we secured our visa, this was not the case, so we were able to fly to Canada and find a job once we’d arrived in the country.
This means that unfortunately, today, you will have to spend the majority of your time researching online for job opportunities within Canada. If, like us, it is a ski season that you would like to work in Canada, then starting by googling individual ski resorts and searching for jobs listings, would be a good place to start.
If you are looking for a broader job, perhaps even a summer job, then we would recommend that you start by googling the different provinces of Canada and ascertain where you would like to live. At this point, you can then hone in on the different working opportunities in that region to be able to secure a job offer.
In terms of our own experience, we knew that we wanted to work a ski season in Canada, and so we decided to fly directly to Calgary and attempt to find a job within Banff National Park.
As well as being a stunningly beautiful part of the planet, Banff National Park is also home to some of the greatest ski resorts in the world. This made it an ideal place in Canada to try and secure a ski season job.
We attended a Ski Season Job Hiring Fair in the town of Banff and were fortunate enough to land ourselves an incredible job at the world-famous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
Arguably one of the most iconic hotels in the whole of North America, the Fairmont has been welcoming guests since the late 1800s and we were thrilled to be able to work there.
Our Experience Working in Lake Louise
Undoubtedly, Lake Louise is one of the best places to visit in the Canadian Rockies, so being able to live and work there for an entire year was a privilege. We cannot recommend Lake Louise highly enough – it truly is one of the most beautiful places in the entire world.
During the winter months, we worked inside the hotel as Resort Activities Attendants. This meant that we rotated between working in the health centre facilities, the ski rental shop, and the kids’ camp program. This job was perfect for us as it provided us with a lot of variety, it paid reasonably well, and incredibly fortunately the job also provided us with accommodation.
If you plan on visiting Lake Louise in the winter, the one thing you should know is that Lake Louise is quite an isolated community. The town of Lake Louise is a 1 hour drive from the town of Banff, so the hotel provides all employees with accommodation on-site. As two temporary workers from abroad, this was a hugely beneficial scenario for us.
We knew that we wanted to secure a job that provided us with accommodation. We were willing to have part of our wage subsidised, so that the prospect of secured housing was guaranteed.
When moving to another country, alongside securing a job, finding accommodation or suitable housing arrangements can be the hardest endeavour to achieve. Fortunately for us, our job came with the guarantee of staff housing, so we didn’t have to worry about the accommodation-finding process.
In the summer months, we worked at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Boathouse, renting out canoes to visitors from all around the world. Canoeing on Lake Louise has become one of the most iconic activities to try in Canada, and certainly one of the most rewarding aspects of living in Lake Louise.
Our guide to canoeing on Lake Louise, answers all the questions somebody may have regarding the canoe rental process at Lake Louise.
Highlights of our experience living and working in Canada
In total, we spent 12 months living and working in Lake Louise and we can truly say that it was unquestionably the best year of our lives.
If you are considering moving to Canada, whether that is permanently or temporarily on a working holiday visa, then you have to pay a visit to Banff National Park at some point.
As the first National Park in Canada, Banff was able to provide us with some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that we shall never forget.
Firstly, being able to learn to snowboard at the world-famous Lake Louise Ski Resort was a complete blessing. It is a world-renowned ski resort and for very good reason – with over 420 acres of skiable terrain, there is a run suitable for every level of snowboarder and skier.
We were also fortunate enough to experience caving deep within the Canadian Rockies. An experience not recommended for people who are afraid of tight, confined spaces, but certainly an incredible experience for those seeking adventure and thrills.
It must be said, however, that the undoubted highlight of our year living in Canada was being able to explore the wonderful landscapes that the country has to offer.
If you love the outdoors, then Canada is certainly a country you should consider visiting.
Read: All the reasons to move to Canada
First-timer tips for moving to Canada
Here are some of our tips if you are planning to move to Canada
- Securing a working holiday visa is a lengthy and laborious process – start the application process as early as possible so you aren’t rushing to have everything completed in time
- Living in a National Park can be expensive – the cost of living in the national parks of Canada can be significantly higher than living outside of them, so be prepared to pay extra for regular items during your grocery shopping
- Canadian Winters are seriously cold – during times in Lake Louise, the temperatures plummeted to -30 degrees Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit), so come with a great selection of warm, reliable winter clothing
- Culturally Canada is very similar to the UK – there is unlikely to be a major culture shock when arriving in Canada from Europe, other than the fact that Canadians seriously love Maple Syrup
Summary of our time working in Canada
Overall, it must be said that our time working in Canada was a huge success. We met people from all around the world that we have continued to stay in contact with to this day, and we have an incredible amount of cherished memories that we will treasure forever.
As an Irish/UK citizen, you are fortunate enough to apply for a Canadian working holiday visa, and it is something that we urge you to consider. Canada is home to an incredible array of glacial lakes, rugged mountains, and stunning wildlife.
If you ever get the chance, we cannot recommend enough visiting Lake Louise. As a vital component of any Canadian Rockies road trip itinerary, Lake Louise is a destination that we implore every person to visit at least once in their lifetime.
About the guest post contributor
Ben Lloyd is a traveling enthusiast from the UK. He spent a year working at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Canada and is the co-creator of Ticket 4 Two Please – a travel blog that offers advice and inspiration for couples seeking long-term travel options. You can find him on Instagram and Pinterest.