COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) - Information and Updates

COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) - Information and Updates

Latest News – COVID-19

(last updated 29/05/2020)

IEP has been helping young people experience life-changing work abroad experiences for 23 years and in that time, we have faced and weathered many challenges.

Please be assured that in these uncertain times our commitment to our work abroad travellers, our staff, and our ability to keep offering these life changing experiences remains as strong as ever. We’re sorry that your travel plans have been impacted by the global coronavirus pandemic and thank you for your patience and support while we work with our partners to coordinate the postponement or cancellation of your program. During this very challenging time, we are adapting and following advice from the wider travel and work abroad industry.

Postponing

If you were planning to start your work abroad program in the next couple of months, we encourage you to postpone to a later date. We will make this change free of charge, even where previously change fees would have applied and we will hold the current price of your program.

IEP Credit

If you decide not to postpone your current program, we will give you 110% of the value of your entire booking to put towards another IEP program. We can book this for you now or you can use your credit at any time during the 12-month period after it’s issued.

Cancelling your booking

We understand uncertainty can be unsettling so if you decide to cancel your program altogether you can, and our standard terms and conditions will apply. As you can imagine our teams are working incredibly hard dealing with this crisis, however we will do our best to process your refund in 30-60 days. We unfortunately cannot refund or transfer any non-refundable government visa fees or sponsor documentation charges or fees paid to any third parties including police checks or medical checks. The situation is still evolving, so we will be continually reviewing advice and any change of policy will be updated here on IEP’s website.

On behalf of everyone at IEP, thank you for your support and patience.

If you are currently overseas and need help or answers:

If you are in a country where the borders have closed and / or air travel has been or is being suspended, please follow these steps:

  • Speak to your in-country Work Abroad support team i.e. SWAP / IENA / BUNAC to get information.
  • Contact the airline you are due to travel with.
  • Contact your country’s embassy or consulate and follow their advice.
  • Get in touch with your insurance provider.

If you are in a country where borders are still open and you would like advice, please follow these steps:

  • Speak to your in-country Work Abroad support team i.e. SWAP / IENA/ BUNAC to get information.
  • Contact your insurance provider and follow their advice.
  • You can also contact the IEP Team, though please bear in mind that demand is very high, and you may have to wait some time for an answer.
  • You can also check your own government’s travel advice for the country you are in – see the list of websites below.

List of government advice sites:

AU: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au

NZ: https://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

UK: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

USA: http://travel.state.gov

Nonrelated COVID-19 urgent support

Should you require urgent support regarding your booking, but your travel has not been impacted by COVID-19, please contact us at info@iep.co.nzWe appreciate that for some of you this may be distressing and a frustrating process, however our primary focus must be on supporting customers who require the most urgent care. Please continue to follow advice here on our website.

Not on an IEP program?

If you are not currently booked onto a program and have a concern then please email us at info@iep.co.nz and we will get back to you as soon as possible. We remain wholeheartedly committed to life-changing work and travel experiences, the global connections they build and the positive impact they create on the world. Program deposits are lifetime and transferrable, meaning that you can apply for a program today, get ahead of the game and start your working holiday as soon as it is possible and safe to do so.

**Winter 2020 promotion! Apply for Work Canada Winter Jobs, Work Japan Winter Jobs, Work USA Winter Jobs or Work USA 4 Month before July 1st and receive a FREE pre-arranged job upgrade (save $200-400)! Deposits are lifetime and transferable. Full promotion T&Cs apply.

For country specific updates, see below:

CANADA
Travelling to Canada
  • Canada is not allowing temporary residents to enter the country if their presence is optional. This means that anyone travelling for tourism, recreation or entertainment will not be admitted. If you don’t already have a job in Canada or a job offer, you will not be allowed to enter the country. You may be challenged by immigration and denied entry to Canada if you are not entering for an essential purpose. 
  • Working holiday participants must have a current and active job offer prior to their arrival at a Canadian port of entry. Travel to Canada during the COVID-19 Pandemic must be for an essential purpose, which does not include leisure and holiday
  • Effective May 8, 2020, the IEC Program is limiting entry into Canada to only those IEC participants who have both:
    • a valid port of entry letter of introduction, and
    • a valid job offer, which includes recent confirmation from your employer that they continue to operate and are willing to employ you.
  • If Work Permit holders are travelling to Canada, they will need to have an isolation plan to comply with the mandatory 14-day isolation. Our in-country partner, SWAP, will not be able to assist with your self-isolation plan.
  • When you arrive in Canada, your health will be assessed when you speak to a border services officer.
  • Employment in Canada is currently very challenging. Most non-essential businesses are closed or operating with limited staff so job-hunting on arrival will be difficult. Social Insurance Numbers (legal requirement to work) offices are closed and numbers are only being issued for urgent applications.
  • We strongly recommend you postpone travel to Canada until the COVID-19 situation is more under control.
Port of Entry Letter of Introduction
  • If you are yet to travel to Canada, and you have received your Port of Entry Letter of Introduction this is valid for 12 months from the date of issue.
  • If you are nearing the expiration date, given the current COVID-19 situation you can extend this for an additional 90 days. If you are on a IEP program please contact IEP for the best way to do this.
  • Please note once a letter is issued under the program, it is considered a participation and an issued letter cannot be cancelled.
I haven’t yet received my Port of Entry Letter yet
  • Processing of existing applications and invitation rounds on the IEC website are currently on hold due to COVID-19.
  • You are still able to enter the pool for application.
  • We will provide an update on social media and via email as soon as processing and invitation rounds are resumed.
Work Canada Returner program
  • IEP are partnered with SWAP Working Holidays in Canada and for 2020 can offer a limited number of RO (Recognised Organisation) Letters to NZ passport holders. The Work Canada Returner program means those who have complete and IEC Working Holiday Visa, have a job offer that meets the requirements and an employer that is willing to sponsor them are eligible to apply for a second IEC participation through the “Young Professional” program. The Work Canada Returner program is now available to NZ passport holders aged 18-35.
  • The Work Canada Returner program is currently on hold as the IEC are not currently processing any applications due to COVID-19. Please email info@iep.co.nz to discuss the program. We have less than 5 visas available for 2020. 

You are not able to extend your IEC work permit. 

Those who need to extend their stay must apply for a visitor visa. This visa will not allow you to work. If you are on the IEP Work Canada program please email IEP for further information on how to do this.

USA

Entry into USA

Our visa sponsors CIEE and IENA are implementing a further pause on entry to the USA until the 15th June 2020 for all J-1 exchange program participants, including Intern Trainee, Summer Camp USA & Work America. There is no information at present about whether this date will be extended.

If your program start date is affected by the current pause, or in the situation this date is extended, we will work with you and your host employer to accommodate later start dates.

Visa processing

Many US embassies, including Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth, are currently only operating emergency visa services and are not processing J-1 applications.

The US embassies in New Zealand and Australia are already planning for J-1 visa processing when normal Embassy operations resume, and we will inform you as soon we know when appointments will be available.

Shipping of DS-2019 visa paperwork from our visa sponsors have been delayed due to lockdown orders. They anticipate being able to continue shipping visa paperwork from June, which should still allow enough time to secure a visa before your intended start date.

Summer Camp USA

Current information from the US Embassy, our sponsor, CIEE and many of the American camps indicates Summer Camp USA 2020 will go ahead.

However, there may be some changes to dates and travel arrangements, and we are aware that some camps have unfortunately decided to cancel their summer 2020 program.

What if your Camp has been cancelled?

CIEE may be able to find you an alternative placement, although this could take a while or unfortunately not be possible.

Where this is not possible, we ask that you defer your application to summer 2021.

Please see below for other cancellation options available to you.

Cancelling your Summer 2020 program

We understand uncertainty can be unsettling. Please see below your options if you decide to postpone your work abroad travels for now.

1) Defer to summer 2021

Move your application and all the money you’ve paid so far and put towards summer 2021 (minus any cancellation fee charged by CIEE).

2) IEP Credit

Transfer money you’ve paid so far (minus any cancellation fee charged by CIEE) to a different IEP work abroad program. You do not even need to decide on your dates of travel yet. 

3) Claiming a refund

If you decide to cancel your program altogether rather than going ahead with summer 2020, deferring to 2021 or switching to another IEP program the standard cancellation conditions apply to your registration fees and you would be issued with a Refund Credit Note with the amount owed to you.

UK/IRELAND

Entry into United Kingdom and Ireland

  • Both the United Kingdom and Irish borders are open for entry. On entry you will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. 

Visa Processing United Kingdom

  • All UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) are closed and are not processing visa applications at this time. If you have an appointment and the VAC is now closed, you’ll be contacted and told your appointment will not take place.
  • If you have submitted your visa application but have not heard back from yet, you will need to wait until visa processing resumes to receive your visa decision.  Due to worldwide border, travel and public health restrictions it may not be possible to return your passport at this time. If you have submitted your passport and would like it returned, you must contact the visa application centre where you logged your application to see if courier return is available in your location. Contact IEP for assistance.
  • If you have submitted your visa application but you now want to withdraw it, let us know. We will help you with this request but cannot guarantee that it will be granted by the UKVI, as this is generally assessed by them on a case by case basis.
  • If you have received your visa letter it will outline the date by when you must enter the United Kingdom to activate it. The visa must be activated within 30 days of the arrival date. It is possible to change your entry date. If you are on an IEP Britain program, please contact us and we will assist you with this process. 

Visa Processing Ireland

  • Working holiday applications are currently not being accepted for processing by the Consulate General of Ireland. This page will be updated when the processes resume.
  • If you have submitted your visa application but have not heard back from yet, you will need to wait until visa processing resumes to receive your visa decision.  
  • If you have submitted your visa application but you now want to withdraw it, let us know. We will help you with this request but cannot guarantee that it will be granted by the Consulate General of Ireland, as this is generally assessed by them on a case by case basis. We will also work with you case by case on the outcome of the withdrawal.  
  • If you have received your visa letter it will outline the date by when you must enter Ireland to activate it. The Authorisation must be activated within twelve months of issue or it will lapse. Unfortunately, it is not possible currently to extend the period of validity of Working Holiday Authorisations, or to accept a second application from someone who has already been granted an Authorisation (whether they availed of it).

Currently in the United Kingdom or Ireland 

JAPAN
Travelling to Japan 
  • Foreign nationals from NZ and Australia are denied permission to enter Japan for the time being, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
  • The website of the Japan National Tourism Organization now also writes that the measures are in place until end of May, but can be renewed. You can read further about these restrictions here: https://www.japan.travel/en/coronavirus/
  • Foreign nationals who have stayed in any of the areas listed in the following table within 14 days prior to the application for landing.
AsiaBrunei, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Viet Nam
OceaniaAustralia, New Zealand
North AmericaCanada, United States
Latin America and the CaribbeanAntigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Panama, PeruSaint Christopher and Nevis
EuropeAlbania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Vatican
Middle EastBahrain, Iran, Israel, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates
AfricaCôte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Mauritius, Morocco

 

  • Anybody arriving from the areas listed above within 14 days prior to their application for landing into Japan are subjected to undergo PCR tests for the time being.
  • If Work Permit holders are travelling to Japan under exceptional circumstances, they will need to have an isolation plan to comply with the mandatory 14-day isolation at a location designated by the quarantine station chief and to refrain from using public transportation. Please contact IEP immediately if this applies to you.
  • Employment in Japan is currently very challenging. Most non-essential business are closed or operating with limited staff so job-hunting on arrival will be difficult.
  • We strongly recommend you postpone travel to Japan until the COVID19 situation is more under control.
Visa Approval
  • If you are yet to travel to Japan, and you have received your visa approval, this is valid for 12 months from the date of issue.
  • Please note once your visa has been approved, it is considered as a complete application and as the visa is once in a lifetime, you are unable to apply for this again.
I haven’t received my Visa Approval
  • Processing of existing applications are currently on hold due to COVID-19.
  • You are still able to complete your application forms and gather your documents in the meantime while you await the submission consulates re-opening and restarting processing of applications.
  • We will provide an update on social media and via email as soon as processing has resumed.
Currently in Japan
  • You are not able to extend your visa. Those who need to extend their stay must apply for a visitor visa. This visa will not allow you to work. If you are on IEP program please contact IEP for further information on how to do this.
  • Foreigners in Japan are required to carry their passport or residence card at all times.
NEW ZEALAND

Entry into New Zealand 

  • New Zealand’s borders are closed for entry to almost all travellers. You should not plan to travel to New Zealand until there is a further update from the New Zealand government. You can monitor their website for the most recent updates here.

Visa Processing

  • All New Zealand visa processing is currently on hold until further notice. This page will be updated when the New Zealand government announces processes resume. You can also monitor the New Zealand government’s website directly here.  
  • If you have submitted your visa application but have not heard back from New Zealand immigration yet, you’ll need to wait until visa processing resumes to receive your visa decision.  
  • If you have submitted your visa application but you now want to withdraw it, let us know. We’ll help you with this request but cannot guarantee that it will be granted by New Zealand immigration as this is generally assessed by them on a case by case basis. We’ll also work with you case by case on the outcome of the withdrawal.  
  • If you have received your visa letter it will outline the date by when you must enter New Zealand to activate it. If this date is between April 2nd and July 9th 2020, currently there is scope to extend this date by making a request to New Zealand immigration. While they initially indicated no action was required, and extensions would be provided automatically, they have changed their position on this. New Zealand immigration will be opening on 14th May and you can call +64 9 914 4100 for extension enquiries, however we anticipate phone lines will be very busy so please be prepared for delays connecting. 

Currently in New Zealand

  • Stay in touch with IEP. If you require support, contact the Work NZ team at Worknz@iep.co.nz 
  • Those with visas expiring between 2nd April and 9th July (inclusive) will be granted an extension until 25th September 2020 if you arrived in New Zealand before April 2nd, 2020. Monitor the New Zealand government website for the most recent updates here.