England, Europe, Expat

Should I SWAP or not?

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’m planning to move to London after I graduate. I’m thinking about moving during the first week of July, which means I should start my visa application in the next few weeks. As a Canadian citizen, I’m eligible to apply for the Youth Mobility Scheme visa.

The scheme is open to people from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and Monaco and it gives you a two-year working visa for anywhere in the UK. The only requirement is that you are under the age of 30 and you can prove that you £1600 in maintenance funds, (in case it takes you a few months to find a job).

I meet these qualifications, but I’m a little worried about making a mistake on my application form and not sending in the correct additional documents. Because of this I’ve looked into a program called SWAP, run by Travel Cuts, the travel agency owned by the Post-Secondary Students unions in Canada.

The program costs $525 and actually submits your visa on your behalf, gives you information on taxes and offers what it says is an exclusive tax exemption of 23 per cent, as well as helping you apply for the national insurance card and a bank account and helping you find a job, membership to the international student house in London, a pre-departure session where you meet other people on SWAP, social events in London and two nights accommodation in London when you first arrive.

I’ve spoken to the people at Travel Cuts and while they seem really knowledgeable and friendly, I think $525 is a lot of money to pay a program that doesn’t even guarantee a job placement, especially considering I’ve already lived in London and have friends there. Though, it would be easier to have someone walk me through the visa process, since I’ve never had to do it before and I am a bit worried about applying for the national insurance card. Has anyone has used SWAP or a similar program? Is the money worth it?

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