Now that spring has officially begun and the snow has all but melted it’s time to focus on summer and the great outdoors.
Each summer, Canada is host to many young foreigners who spend their summer vacations working as counsellors, or counsellors-in-training (CIT’s), at one of our many summer camps.
Canada’s summer camps provide a great opportunity for young people to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and experience some of Canada’s people and natural beauty. Often, these summers in the wilderness produce memories and friendships that last a lifetime.
It is not difficult to arrange the immigration paperwork provided a little planning is done.
To work in Canada, camp counsellors normally need to apply for a work permit just like other foreign workers. First, they must obtain a job offer from a Canadian employer, i.e., the summer camp, and must apply to HRSDC to have that job offer confirmed.
In Ontario, this process normally takes approximately five weeks.
Once the offer is confirmed, a candidate can apply for a work permit at a Canadian visa post outside Canada or at a Canadian port-of-entry if they are a citizen of a visa-exempt country. For a list of such countries, see www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp. Some candidates will also need to undergo medical examinations if, during the one-year period prior to coming to Canada, they resided for more than six consecutive months in a country listed at www.cic.gc.ca/english/in formation/medical/dcl.asp. It will take several weeks for CIC to analyze the results of these medical tests so it is wise to take this time into account.
Counsellors who will be volunteering and performing work of a religious or charitable nature for a qualifying camp will not need to apply to HRSDC for a confirmation of their job offer. However, they will still need to apply for a work permit and undergo medicals if applicable, even though they won’t be getting paid.
A list of all Canadian charities in good standing can be found at www.cra- arc.gc.ca.
Since CIT’s are, by definition, in training, they do not perform “work” within the meaning of our immigration laws and therefore don’t need to apply for a work permit. However, they will still need to apply for a visa if applicable.
My own experiences at a summer camp in northern Ontario produced many wonderful friendships, a love of this country’s natural beauty, and stories that have been repeated countless times.