(note: informative non-entertaining post)
My stay in Prague has been courtesy of a one-year Youth Mobility Visa (YMV) granted by the Czech Embassy in Ottawa, Canada.
Since there is relatively little information online about this visa, and apparently very few people who have heard of it, I've decided to write this post. It's been six months since I applied, so I'll try my best to remember most of the important details. Be aware that things may have changed, so verify anything you read here with the Czech embassy.
Firstly, as far as visas go, the application is fairly simple. There is no criminal record check, health check, or guarantor required. It is valid for Canadian citizens up to age 35.
My situation was slightly different since I applied for it from Belgium. The lady at the embassy in Ottawa told me that I must apply from Canada, so I sent my application through my dad in Winnipeg. The embassy reserves a maximum of 60 days to process your visa application. Fortunately, it only took me 30 days in total to get my visa. Normally, it would be a bit faster but I made a mistake in my application.
The lady at the embassy in Ottawa told me (over the phone) to use the application form with the red-colored text. It can be found here, listed as "Application for Schengen Visa" :
To complete the form, you'll need an index of country codes. They can be found here:
You'll need to provide an address of where you'll be staying in the CR. I used the address of girlfriend's family, even though I didn't stay there. The visa application says you need to provide proof of transportation here and back OR proof that you have sufficient funds to buy such a ticket. I came here on a bus from Belgium, so I wasn't required to show any proof of a ticket going home. But I since I had sufficient cash, I sent a copy of my bank account balance + mastercard statement (showing credit limit) along with my application just to be safe.
The application must be sent with a money order in Canadian funds to cover the cost of application ($126 CAD when I applied). The application cost varies each month according to the exchange rates. I sent my application in July, but it didn't arrive in the hands of the embassy officials until August. At that point, the rate had changed to my disadvantage. I had to send them more cash to make up for this. This delayed my visa application about ten days, I'm guessing.
I did not need to get health insurance in the Czech Republic before I applied, or even after I got my visa. I only needed to sign a form promising that I would get health insurance upon entry into the Czech Republic. The Ottawa embassy recommended AXA Assistance health insurance for me, so I got that. There URL is here: http://www.axa-assistance.cz/Axa-Assistance.aspx . I haven't really used them yet so I can't review their services. They do have a few agents who speak English.
You are meant to to go to the Foreign Police office to register your address within three days of arrival. I did not do this since it took me about 2 weeks to find an apartment and I didn't want go to the foreign police more than once. So I compiled everything I needed and then went to the foreign police once, and only once, and now I'm good. It's quite possible the agent you get at the foreign police will not be familiar with the YMV. It went relatively fine for me, however. Here are some things to remember to bring to the office:
- proof of health insurance. Get this before you go, or you'll just have to go back later.
- an official piece of paper I got along with my visa that says I do not need a work permit (zitnosky's list) to work in the Czech Republic.
- a signed rental contract.
- a filled out "DOKLAD (POTVRZENÍ) O ZAJIŠTENÍ UBYTOVÁNÍ" form. This form is a proof of residency form you have to fill out and your landlord needs to sign. My girlfriend (Czech) was proactive and emailed the foreign police and asked what we needed. They emailed her this document. According to their email, the form you complete can be no older than 180 days, so there is no point in my providing you with the one I filled out. Contact them (in Czech if possible) to get a copy of this form.
According to the principle (for the prevention) of double taxation (http://www.worldwide-tax.com/canada/canada_double_taxation_agreements.asp), I have to pay taxes here in the CR. I assume that after I file my taxes, I will get documentary proof. If the Canadian government asks me what I did for taxes in 2010, I will show them this proof. My employers (two) are currently taxing me at the lowest possible bracket.
I think the Youth Mobility Visa is a winner. It's attractive to employers because you are work-ready. You do not need to get a Czech trade license ("Å¾ivnostenský list"), which costs them money and time. I found a job before arriving, and started working the on the first day of my arrival without having even met my boss. Like any working-holiday scheme, this visa gives you the freedom you to choose your employer, instead of having to be tied down to a certain company because they sponsored your visa.