What are the new Canada visa options for UK passport holders

Christmas definitely came early for UK passport holders looking to do a working holiday visa in Canada, when in December ‘23, the IEC announced the 18-35 age increase and second IEC visa rules. But like all classic UK Christmases, it also came with a ton of unanswered questions. What if I’m already in Canada on an IEC visa? What’s the benefit of an RO Letter? And why should I eat ‘just one’ sprout ‘just because’ it’s Christmas???
 
If you’re a UK passport holder, we’re here to clear things up and let you know what your IEC visa and RO Letter options are under the new rules. (If you’re not a UK passport holder and have already had an IEC visa, you still need to go down the RO route for your second visa. Find out more here. 

If you are currently in Canada on a 24-month IEC Canada working holiday visa, you now have the option to do the following:

- Apply again through the regular pool directly with the IEC for a 12-month IEC visa
- Apply again through the regular pool directly with the IEC for a 12-month Young Professional visa
- Apply again through BUNAC to get an RO Letter for 24-months on an IEC WHV
- Apply again through BUNAC to get an RO Letter for 24-months on a Young Professional visa


Confused? Hopefully these two scenarios help.

1) Adam is currently on a 24-month IEC working holiday visa that he applied for directly with the IEC. His 24-month IEC visa is now finishing up. Adam can now apply directly with the IEC for a further 12-month participation, either through the working holiday visa category or Young Professional category without the use of an RO Letter. When Adam is finishing up his 2nd direct IEC participation, Adam can apply for a further 24-month working holiday visa or Young Professional participation through an RO. Adam can THEN apply for a 2nd RO participation for 12 months when his RO participation is coming to an end.

2) Adam is currently on a 24-month IEC working holiday visa that he applied for directly with the IEC. His 24-month IEC visa is now finishing up. Adam can now apply for a further 24-month IEC working holiday visa or Young Professional visa through an RO Letter. When his RO is coming to an end, Adam has the opportunity to apply directly with the IEC for a further 12-month visa through the working holiday or Young Professional scheme. Adam can THEN apply for a 2nd RO participation for a further 12 months on either the Young Professional or working holiday visa scheme.

Adam is a busy boy. And loves Canada, A LOT. 

What is the benefit of a UK customer using an RO service given the recent changes announced?

The benefit of the RO Letter is repeating participation beyond what you can do outside of the regular IEC stream, and the length of time you get on a visa. This means that if you are about to turn 35 or 36 for example, you can now apply on your own for a 2nd 12-month visa. But by the time it expires, you will have aged out of the program and won’t be able to apply with the help of an RO, which would give you 24-months instead of 12 if you applied for your 2nd participation directly with the IEC.

The RO program also guarantees an invitation to apply, but you are not guaranteed an invite if you apply directly with the IEC as it is a lottery system.

What if you're aged between 31-35 and have not held an IEC working holiday visa in the past?

The age eligibility has increased from 18-30 to 18-35 for UK passport holders. Previously, UK passport holders that wanted to go to Canada on an IEC visa but were aged between 31-35 were not eligible to apply directly and had to apply via the RO scheme.

However, with the age increase, if you have never participated in the IEC visa program, you can apply directly for a 24-month visa without the use of an RO.

You can then apply for a 2nd IEC participation directly with the IEC for a further 12 months. However, you could apply for a 2nd participation through the RO scheme which would give you a further 24-month IEC visa, instead of 12 months. If you are still within the age eligibility after your 2nd 24-month RO IEC participation, you can apply directly again with the IEC for your 2nd IEC direct participation for 12 months.

When will BUNAC be inviting people to the RO program?

BUNAC is given a quota of Recognised Organisation (RO) places each year, which usually sell out in minutes. (Think Glasto, minus the mud). To make it as fair as possible, getting an RO works on a ballot system where names are anonymously drawn. The first round of invites will be drawn on the 8 January, so for the chance to get an RO Letter, you must register for the RO ballot now. If your name is drawn, you’ll then have seven days to pay your program fee.

We’re the Canada experts and we’re constantly in touch with our partners on the ground to get the most up-to-date intel, so if you have any questions – give us a call or hit ‘Ask a question’ on the website.

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