Accepted Paper:

Accessing the Canadian working holiday visa: Irish newcomers in Toronto talk about their bureaucratic route to Canada  


Jane Helleiner (Brock)

Paper short abstract:

Irish newcomer accounts of the application and approval processes for the Canadian Working Holiday visa are analyzed. The focus is on how these relatively privileged newcomers presented their navigation of the Canadian immigration bureaucracy.

Paper long abstract:

Drawing on qualitative interviews with 26 Irish newcomers living in Toronto, this paper focuses on their accounts of accessing a two-year Canadian Working Holiday visa. The paper analyses accounts of the visa application and approval process as well as in some cases, attempts to extend authorized stay and work in Canada beyond the two-year term. The narratives highlight some frustration with an unresponsive Canadian immigration bureaucracy both pre-and post-migration. Critiques of online engagements with this bureaucracy, were however, contrasted with more favourable accounts of face-to-face encounters with Canadian immigration officials during airport border entries. While some interviewees employed private migration industry actors (e.g. brokers, immigration lawyers and paralegals) and/or an Irish settlement organization to assist them in navigating the Canadian immigration bureaucracy, most emphasized their own self-education, often through migrant-created online forums. Such forums offer informal advice to and from Irish newcomers about a wide range of migration-related issues including Working Holiday visa application, approval and authorized extensions. Despite some critique of the Canadian immigration bureaucracy, these relatively privileged (highly educated and white) Irish had been successful in obtaining authorized residence and open work permits in Canada under a Working Holiday program that facilitated their global mobility and for some, the option of permanent residency in Canada.

Panel RM-MRB10
The bureaucratic routes to migration: migrants' lived experience of paperwork, clerks and other immigration intermediaries