Logan and I have taken a few international trips throughout our relationship. Somehow though, none of those trips involved having to obtain a visa before travelling. In fact, on our first trip abroad, we wanted to visit Brazil but decided not to because we didn't want to have to mail our passports in order to gain our visas (I still regret that decision. SOMEONE PLEASE GIVE ME A GOOD REASON TO VISIT BRAZIL!!)
Anyway, what I'm trying to say, other than I dream of Ipanema, is that the process of traveling to Ireland and obtaining a travel visa was an entirely new experience for us.
When we decided to move to Ireland, we knew that Canadians between 18-35 years of age could obtain a 2 years working holiday visa. However, we weren't sure what the process looked like or if there were extra restrictions on those visas. So this is the process we went through to gain our visas:
1) Making sure we met all the criteria. Before we paid for anything, like responsible adults, we made sure we were actually going to be accepted into the country. We called SWAP as well as emailed Irish immigration, and checked their website, to make sure there wasn't anything that would cause us to be denied our visas.
2) Signing up for SWAP. Once we made sure we met the criteria for immigration, we signed up for SWAP/ USIT, which is a program that helps people applying for working holiday visas to get all the paperwork they need to received their visas, get into the country, and figure out what they need to do once they have entered the country. It cost us $500/ person, but that included visa application fees, assistance once we arrived in Ireland, and support with our application process. It was well worth the $$.
3) Booking our flights, health insurance + other paperwork. In order to apply for our visas, we had to book our one way flights, have travel health insurance and a couple of other easy to obtain documents (passports, bank forms). We booked our health insurance through World Nomads because they offered adventure activity coverage for us and we needed that for the amount of mountain biking we were planning on doing, and have been doing.
4) Sending off our applications. This was the easiest part. We got our paperwork together with our passports, put them in an envelope and mailed them away to SWAP who sent them off to the embassy for us.
5) The waiting game. It took a month for us to receive our visas once we mailed the paperwork to SWAP. Luckily, this month was so busy with getting ready to leave that it didn't seem as long as I was worried it was going to.
6) THE VISAS ARRIVE!!!! And this was the happy dance that I did for at least 10 minutes. Not sure if Max was upset about the dance, or as excited as I was, but he did this the whole time too. I hadn't been this excited in a long time. Moving to another country has been a dream of mine since I was in elementary school, so receiving the visas was a huge deal to me.
In order to get through security and immigration in Ireland, we brought our visa + passports. Getting Max in was a bit more work, but you can read that story in the previous blog post. If you would like any more info or have any questions, feel free to send us an email or comment on this blog post!
p.s. the blog image is a stock image and not mine, although I wish it was!