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CAFCE is pleased to partner with Cultural Vistas, a US-based organization that helps students obtain J-1 visas required to work in the US (http://www.culturalvistas.org/).
CAFCE members can direct their students to Cultural Vistas to receive a discount in the cost for the J-1 visa. For those students working for 3 month or less the cost is $750 and for those students working 3-12 months the cost is $800. While there are a few other costs, such as a one time fee and health insurance, this does represent a significant savings for our students.
Members are not obligated to take advantage of this deal, but it now exists as a member benefit.
Please note these are general guidelines to working aboard and each school may have slightly different requirements. Also keep in mind that your co-op department must approve all job opportunities, therefore if you are interested in working abroad it is a good idea to contact the co-op department prior to beginning your job search.
- Deciding Where to Go
- Finding International Jobs (resources)
- Student Guidelines
- Documents (passport, visa and work permit, International Driving Permit)
- Additional Insurance
- Plane Tickets
- Discount Card
- Packing Tips
- While Abroad
- Registering with the Embassy
- Leisure and Recreation
- Cross-cultural adaptation
- Work Term Visit
- In case of an emergency
- Other things to consider
- Returning Home
- Extending or shortenting your work term
- Health Insurance
Deciding Where to Go
The best way to decide where to go is through research. Keep an open mind and talk to your co-op department about where other students have worked aboard in the past.
Here a few things to consider when selecting a country:
- Weather and geography
- Religion and culture
- History and traditions
- Social norms that may vary between countries
The government of Canada has an agreement with the following countries in order to simplify the work permit process: http://www.youth.gc.ca/eng/topics/jobs/abroad.shtml
You are not limited to these countries and many co-op students have worked aboard in countries not listed above. Your university or college may have agreements with certain countries around the world so it is a good idea to talk with your co-op department about where you would like to work aboard. Also, keep in mind that all jobs must be approved by your co-op department.
Finding International Jobs
While some institutions have designated international co-op programs that can provide international opportunities, in most cases, you will likely need to complete your own job search in addition to searching your co-op database. The majority of job posting found by your university or college will be within your province or across Canada.
The government of Canada has a database where national and international jobs are posted, this is a good resource to look into. http://jobs-emplois.gc.ca/index-eng.htm
If you have worked for an international organization in the past you could ask your past employer if they know of any opportunities with the company abroad.
Other resources* to consider are:
- AIESEC – an international platform that helps young people discover and develop their potential to have a positive impact on society. The AIESEC Global Internship Program has 4 streams:
- Management: internships in general business functions such as marketing, finance, HR, etc.
- Technical: internships in IT and engineering
- Development: internships focusing on community and social development
- Educational: internships focusing on teaching others
For more information visit their website: http://aiesec.ca/en
- Going Global – a database that provides information on job and internship resources, employment trends and industry profiles for twenty-four countries. The database also includes interview and cultural advice as well as assistance with the process of getting a work permit and visa. Contact your co-op department to see if they subscribe to this website so that you can gain access to it. http://www.goinglobal.com/
- SWAP – is a large international youth exchange program that offers opportunities in 13 different countries.
Visit www.swap.ca for more information or to complete the registration form/other requirements.
- Research Internships in Science and Engineering – is specific for students studying Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Engineering and Physics. The program sends students from all over the world to Germany to work with doctoral students on research projects.
Note: the working language is English however knowing some basic German will be beneficial. For more information visit their website: http://www.daad.de/rise/en/.
- Cultural Vistas – is a non-profit organization that offers internships in Argentina, Germany, Spain, Russia and the United States. This organization offers paid and unpaid jobs, internships, professional fellowships, state department public diplomacy initiatives, J-I visa services, work study programs, study tours and support during your work term.
For more information visit their website: http://www.culturalvistas.org/
- International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience - Canadian students who are currently in full-time attendance at a university or college in Canada studying engineering, technical sciences, or technologies such as architecture, agriculture, and forestry can be placed abroad through IAESTE Canada. Take note of eligibility criteria, application procedures, salaries, and fees. http://www.iaeste.org/
* Note that there may be fees associated with the services that these organizations provide
Accepting a Position
Before you accept a position be sure to carefully evaluate your options and consult your co-op department before accepting any offers. Research the company and country to avoid making uninformed decisions.
If offered by your school, participate in a pre-departure orientation.
Your passport must be valid for 6 months after your tentative return date. Give yourself adequate time to get a passport or renew your current passport if necessary.
- Visa and Work Permit
It is imperative that you obtain the proper permission and documentation before leaving to work abroad. Each country has their own rules and processes for obtaining these documents; therefore contact your host countries Canadian embassy or consulate. They will inform you on what immigration documents you will need to enter the country, the application procedures, fees and lead time required. You should obtain this information and start the application process as soon as possible.
Apply to the International Youth Program designed by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, which makes it easier to get a work permit in several countries. http://www.international.gc.ca/education/menu.aspx?404%3Bhttp://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/123go/menu-en.asp
- International Driving Permit (IDP)
Depending on your situation you may want to or be required to operate a vehicle on your work term. In order to legally do so you should apply for an IDP, which is an international driver’s license that is valid for a year. With this license you can drive a car outside of Canada.
It is absolutely necessary that you get a supplemental health care insurance policy before leaving. Provincial health care is not enough to cover emergencies that could happen while you are abroad. Make sure the insurance you get has all the services you will need including access to multilingual staff, medical evacuation to Canada or the nearest location, a medical escort and emergency dental care. Also make sure your plan does not exclude any areas you plan to visit. Do not forget to bring a copy of your health insurance contract. http://www.travelcuts.com/Insurance/
- Travel Insurance Coverage: This can include baggage coverage and flight cancellation.
- Liability Insurance: in form of a monthly charge that covers you should you be sued.
- Apartment Insurance: This is bought once you get to your destination and covers damaged caused by theft, fires, floods, etc.
- Repatriation of Remains Coverage: In the unlikely event that you should die abroad, it is important to plan ahead for the return on your remains back home.
- Air Ambulance Coverage: an aircraft used for emergency medical assistance in situations where a an ambulance cannot get to the scene quickly enough.
A few things to consider when beginning your search for housing abroad:
- Expand your search, use websites specific to housing but also include classified pages like Craigslist or the newspaper
- Many large cities offer housing for international students where you would share a residence with other young people.
- Check out the websites of local universities.
- Use online social networking sites like Facebook and check out student groups in the community where you will be living.
Things to consider when making your decision:
- Ask a lot of questions
- Find out exactly what is included (furniture, kitchen amenities, linens, towels, laundry, heating etc.)
- Ask about rules and regulations regarding rentals in the country and make sure to read the fine print carefully
- Always get everything in writing
Tips for purchasing plane tickets:
- Purchase your tickets early, but not too early. Keep a look out for airfare sales and compare different airlines and departure dates. When you determine the average cost keep checking frequently and you will know when you find a good deal.
- Search multiple travel websites.
- Contact a local travel agency that specializes in student travel about any deals.
- Sign up for fare alerts
- Consider flying out of alternate airports that are close by but may be less expensive.
Before you leave you should look into getting an International Student Identity Card (ISIC). It will allow you to get discounts on things such as travel, accommodations, sports rentals and admission to various attractions. ISIC will also provide you with support through their Help Line that offers free 24-hour travel telephone service.For more information visit their website: http://www.isic.org/
Find out what vaccinations are necessary for your country as well as other countries you plan to visit. It is recommended that you have a full health and dental check-up before leaving.
- Check how many pieces of checked luggage you are allowed to bring on your airline.
- Try to be approximately 25% under the maximum weight limit before you leave to allow for items you will purchase during your work term.
- Check the customs requirements online before you pack as these regulations are continuously updated and may be different in certain countries.
- Pack the following things in your carry-on luggage to prepare yourself in the event your baggage is lost or your flight is cancelled or delayed:
- First aid kit
- Prescription medication
- Change of clothes
- Do not bring valuables abroad, try to take only necessities.
- If you will be living with a family during your stay abroad it is a nice gesture to bring them a gift from Canada.
Keeping in touch with friends, family and your co-op department
Once settled into your new location, provide your co-op coordinator with your address and telephone number.
Keeping in touch via telephone may be very expensive. A few options to consider would be to sign up for a long distance plan, use calling cards or sign up for skype.
Registering with the Embassy
You should register with the Canadian Embassy in your destination country.
Become familiar with the city’s transportation in your destination country. It is a good idea to consult travel guides such as Frommers http://www.frommers.com/ or Lonely Planet http://www.lonelyplanet.com/ for tips about getting around.
Leisure and Recreation
This is a great opportunity for you to see another part of the world. You should take trips on weekends and before or after your work term if time permits. Hostels are an affordable option and a good way to meet other young travelers. Check out www.hostelworld.com.
You may experience some culture shock when you arrive in your destination country. Here are some things to remember while you are adapting to a new culture:
- Before arriving take some time to research the culture of your host country and become familiar with the way of life, social expectations and norms. DFAIT’s Centre for Intercultural Learning http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/cfsi-icse/cil-cai/ provides good information for this purpose
- Be open-minded and patient while learning the new culture and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Always have tolerance for differences and be willing to apologize if you do something that is considered wrong in your host culture
Work Term Visit
This may be different depending on your college or university but your co-op coordinator will most likely be in touch with you and your supervisor via telephone, email or skype.
In case of an emergency
As soon as you arrive in your destination determine the number to the emergency line (most countries have their own equivalent to 9-1-1). It is also important to be aware of your surroundings, for example knowing where the closest police station is or hospital. Also don’t forget to register with the Canadian Embassy. In the event of a natural disaster or civil unrest the Canadian Government will offer immediate assistance. They will also inform you should a family emergency arise at home.
You could also consider buying a cell phone.
Other things to consider
Here are a few things to keep in mind during your work term:
- Keep the receipts from your purchases
- Put money aside to pay exit or departure fees if applicable
- Make sure you and someone at home has copies of all your important documents (passport, visa, driver’s license, credit cards, health insurance, etc.)
Extending or shortening your work term
Contact your co-op coordinator in the event you want to extend or shorten your work term.
Inform your insurance provider the date you will be returning to Canada so that you do not have to wait for your insurance company to change the conditions of your coverage.
On a final note, it is important to remember that you are an ambassador for your university or college as well as the city you live in and for Canada as a whole. Your actions while abroad should therefore reflect your pride in taking on this important role.