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Looking to go to Canada on a working holiday visa next year? The application system for the International Experience Canada (IEC) programme has been overhauled, and is now open to submissions from Irish citizens for 2016.

The new process should prevent the annual crush for visas among Irish applicants. Under the old system, a quota of visas for Irish citizens was released in one or two rounds each year, on a first come, first served basis. Quotas were filled within minutes on several occasions, leaving disappointed candidates waiting another year before they could apply again.

Under the new system, applicants for 2016 visas can begin the process now by creating an online profile, which will then be submitted to a “pool” of candidates if it meets requirements.

Applicants will be drawn randomly from these pools at “regular intervals”, and sent an Invitation to apply for a work permit. Draws will continue to be held until all places are filled for the year.

The Department of Citizenship and Immigration has not yet confirmed how many visas will be available to Irish citizens for 2016, but it is expected the quota will be the same as the last two years, when 10,700 were available – 7,700 for working-holiday makers, 2,500 for “young professionals” (who must have a contract of employment before applying), and 500 in the “international co-op” category for full-time students to take part in internship and work placement programmes, for up to 12 months.

While the new system will take the pressure off candidates, the biggest drawback is that friends or couples will not be able to apply together for visas. This means one or more could be left waiting much longer for their application to be selected with no guarantee that they’ll get a visa before the end of the year, even if their friend or partner applied at the same time and have been accepted.

More information on how to apply for an IEC visa can be found on the Citizen and Immigration website. A webinar will be held on Wednesday 9 December at 1pm Irish time, where officials from the CIC will present and answer questions from applicants. See for details on how to register.

Source: The Irish Times