Working Holidays

SWAP Program

The Student Work Abroad Program Program (SWAP) is administered by Travel Cuts, a travel agency run by Canadian students. The program allows Canadian university and college students to enter into programs allowing them to work abroad.

For many of the destinations being a part of the SWAP program is the only way to participate. There are other programs, however, that SWAP offer that you can organise on your own For other programs, however, it is possible to arrange the visas on your own which makes everything a whole lot cheaper. SWAP promises information packs and support on arrival but whether this is worth the extra cost is something you have to descide for yourself.


. For these programs you are able to obtain your visa directly from the relevant embassy and, unless you want to fork over a lot of extra money, you should steer clear of these SWAP programs.


I've created a chart which will hopefully illustrate what I mean and whether you are able to get your visa without the help of the SWAP Program and therefore save a lot of money.


COUNTRY

SWAP FEE

VALIDITY

ON YOUR OWN

PROOF OF FUNDS

ANNUAL QUOTA

Australia

Australia

Aged 18 to 30 inclusive

12 months (with possibility of additional 12 months)

AUD $180

CDN $5,000

France

France

Aged 18 to 30 inclusive

No charge!

CDN $3,000

Ireland

Ireland

Aged 18 to 35

12 months

$395

CDN $2,500

Japan

Japan

Aged 18 to 30

6 months (can be extended another 6 months)

No charge!

CDN $2,500

New Zealand

New Zealand

12 months from date of entry

CDN $100

NZ $4200

2,000

UK

United Kingdom


SWAP is great for students because the program opens up working holiday options that non-students don't have. For this you have no choice but to go through their specific program and the expense might be justified. But for the other programs there is quite a large difference in price. Based on the fact that applying for Working Holiday Visas on your own is so easy, I don't feel the price difference is justified but to let you make your own mind up. Here's what SWAP offers... you can decide if it's worth the extra cash:

  • You apply to SWAP and, once accepted, they apply for a working holiday visa on your behalf. As I said before, for the student programs you have no choice but to go through SWAP. But for the others (mentioned above) it really is very easy to get the visa and some can be applied for online.
  • Access to a hosting centre (in gateway cities only) with employer contacts, resources and hints about locating employment but it is not a placement program and the information provided isn't anything you can't find out on your own.
  • Ease of opening a bank account with Natwest. Opening a bank account on your own is very difficult so this is a great service but keep in mind that you can also open a bank account through First Contact for a fee of 35.
  • The ability to meet with other recent arrivals through the hosting centre. Some host day trips or pub nights but if you do a bit of research and find a friendly, social hostel and you're a friendly, normal person then you'll meet plenty of people anyways.
  • If you go through SWAP, you're required to book your flight through Travel Cuts. Usually their fares are very good, especially for students, but not having a choice where you buy your plane ticket is pretty crap in my opinion.
  • You will also be pressured to purchase your travel insurance through Travel Cuts but shop around a bit and you'll see that their insurance in way overpriced. You can get insurance far cheaper with World Nomads. It can only be bought for a maximum of 6 months at a time but can be renewed from anywhere in the world so the flexibility is great.

So if this all looks good to you then you should probably have a look at the SWAP Website.


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