Frequently Asked Questions
It is important for us that you get the answers to any questions you have about our loan program. Browse through the frequently asked questions below or talk us to find the answers you’re looking for.
Who is eligible for a Windmill loan?
To be eligible for a Windmill loan, you must be an internationally trained professional living in Canada on a permanent status. You must be intending to work in the same field you had before coming to Canada, or at least a related field. You must not have an undischarged bankruptcy. You can check your eligibility by doing our short, 5-question eligibility quiz here.
What do you mean by permanent status in Canada?
To be eligible for a Windmill loan, you must be a Permanent Resident, Protected Person, Convention Refugee, Canadian Citizen, or Provincial Nominee. Also please note that Windmill offers a Refugee Loan Program that is interest-free.
Unfortunately, we are not able to offer a loan if you are an international student, live-in caregiver, refugee claimant, or temporary foreign worker.
What is an undischarged bankruptcy?
If you have filed for bankruptcy in Canada, your bankruptcy ends when it is discharged. This means that you are released from your legal obligation to repay the debts covered by your bankruptcy. We cannot consider your application if your bankruptcy is still active, or “undischarged”.
Is this program only for professionals and/or for people who have degrees?
No. Any immigrant who will incur costs in order to work again in the occupation they had in their home country may apply. Tradespeople, skilled workers and professionals are all encouraged to apply. Read our eligibility requirements to learn more.
Do I have to go back to the same work I did before?
No, you do not have to be returning to the exact same position. We support immigrants who are returning to their previous field or a related field. For instance, if you were a dentist you could apply for a loan to help with the costs of becoming a dental hygienist.
Windmill loans cannot be used to help you start a career in a new field.
Am I eligible for a loan if I am already working in my field?
Yes, but only if you are underemployed (working at a level much lower than someone with your education or experience should be).
Do you support refugees or protected persons in Canada?
Windmill has a loan program for refugees/protected persons to limit their financial burden as they strive to resettle in Canada. Refugees or protected persons may apply for the Windmill Refugee Loan Program within three years from the time they have attained a Refugee Status in Canada to the date of their application at Windmill.
What can the loan be used for?
Windmill loans may be used for:
- Education and training programs of two years or less
- Fees for licensing and qualifying exams
- Travel expenses to take courses or write exams which are unavailable in your area
- Qualification assessments
- Professional association fees
- Books, supplies and course materials
- English or French language courses specific to employment
- Living allowance during study time (if you need to quit your job or reduce your hours during study time)
- Other costs related to continuing your career may be considered
Does it matter where I live?
We can lend to people living anywhere in Canada, now including Quebec. Our application process is completely online so you can easily access our services from anywhere.
Can I meet with a Windmill representative in person?
Our process is designed so that you can be assessed and approved for a loan anywhere in Canada. However, if you live in Calgary, Edmonton, or Toronto, you can meet with our staff in person, if you prefer that over Skype™ or phone.
My English is not very strong, can I speak with someone in another language?
We have staff who speak the following languages: Arabic, Bemba, Bengali, Dari, Dutch, French, Gujarati, Hindi, Hungarian, Marathi, Punjabi, Russian, Shona, Spanish, Urdu, Ukrainian, and Yoruba. If you call to inquire and need assistance in one of these languages, please let your Intake Team member know right away.
Can I use a Windmill loan to pay off my credit card?
Not usually, but it may be allowed if you can demonstrate that you very recently paid for licensing/training costs on your credit card. We can only approve funds to be used to cover applicable costs incurred within the past 3 months maximum, so please be prepared to provide receipts if you are requesting funds for expenses already incurred.
I want to work in my field, but my first priority is providing for my family. How can a Windmill loan help?
Loans may be used to help pay short term living expenses if you need to quit your job or reduce your hours at work while you are attending school or studying for exams.
What documents do I need to have ready for the application?
- your SIN number
- a copy of your immigration status document (ie PR card, COPR, notice of decision about y our refugee status, etc)
- a government-issued photo ID, if your immigration status document doesn’t have a photo
- proof of your address, if your government-issued photo ID does not have it
- your resume
- your diplomas, translated to English or French, or your credential evaluation from WES, ICAS, etc
- your letter of acceptance into your program, if applicable, or other documents that explain your learning plan
- proof of your income (pay stubs, letter confirming income support, etc)
- your void cheque or Direct Deposit Form, which you can likely download from your online bank account
Why do I need to provide my void cheque or Direct Deposit Form at the time of application?
We ask you to provide your void cheque or Direct Deposit Form as part of the application just to speed things up if your microloan is approved. We need your bank account details in order to send you your loan agreement to sign, so asking for it right away helps to remove one potential delay. Please note that this does not guarantee that your loan will be approved. If your loan is not approved, we will remove your bank form from our system.
What are all the steps in the application process?
- The application process starts with the eligibility quiz, found here. If the quiz tells you that you are not eligible, you may want to speak to one of our staff to determine whether you may become eligible in the future.
- Once you’ve confirmed your eligibility, you can create your account on our online application portal, found here. If you have all of your supporting documents ready, it should only take you 30-60 minutes to complete the application. For a detailed list of the supporting documents that you’ll need, see here.
- Once we’ve received your complete application, we will review it and reach out by phone or email if we have any questions or require any more information. Otherwise, the next time you hear from us will be with an email to complete the Employment Readiness Scale (ERS), which is a tool that we use to help determine the resources that will help you find work more quickly. If you have not heard from us a few days after submitting your application, please check your junk mail folder to see if the ERS email went there.
- Once you have completed the ERS, we will invite you to book your coaching meeting, which can be done over Skype, or in person if you live in Calgary, Edmonton, or Toronto. We recommend that you book your coaching meeting as soon as you receive the booking email, as spots can fill up fast.
- Your coaching meeting will last about an hour and you will discuss your journey to Canada, background information, a review of your ERS, your Learning Plan, and financial situation, and an explanation of the Windmill payment terms and conditions.
- Your Success Coach will then write a summary of your application and recommend approval or decline to our Loan Review Committee. The Committee gets back to them with a decision within a few days, and you will be informed of your approval or decline soon after.
- If your loan is approved, your Success Coach will introduce you to the Loan Management Team, who will ask you to sign your Loan Documents online using AdobeSign and then arrange the disbursement of funds. You should see the funds in your bank account a few business days afterwards.
What is the ERS and why do I have to complete it?
The Employment Readiness Scale is an online tool that helps identify what kinds of assistance will help you find work as quickly as possible. It’s quick, easy and interesting to take, and it will help us better understand your skills, your re-training needs, and your job hunting tools and strategies.
The results of your ERS have no effect on your eligibility for a loan from Windmill, so please answer as honestly as possible. This tool has been a valuable source of information for many newcomers as it provides a snapshot of your current strengths and challenges. It also helps Windmill staff understand how to best support your educational and employment goals.
The results of your assessment are confidential, and the report shared with Windmill will only show an overall score, not how you answered each specific question.
You need to complete this assessment before you meet with a Windmill Client Success Coach to discuss your application. Your Coach will discuss the report with you and help you create an action plan tailored to your needs.
How much may I borrow?
You may borrow up to $15,000, but the average loan is around $7,000.
What is the interest rate?
The interest rate is the RBC prime rate plus 1.5%. Our loans are a variable interest rate loan product, meaning that as the RBC prime rate increases or decreases, the interest on your loan increases or decreases accordingly. We are proud we have been able to keep the interest rate low. It is not uncommon for microloan programs to charge up to 10% above prime.
Why does Windmill charge interest?
The interest we charge helps replenish the loan fund and pays for the interest and bank charges that we have to pay.
Who benefits from the interest paid on the loans?
Aside from paying the interest charged to us and bank fees, we have been able to keep payments of principal and interest in the loan fund, helping to ensure the sustainability of the loan fund. Future clients will benefit from the interest paid by today’s clients.
Does Windmill make money from the loans?
No. The Windmill program is run by non-profit societies whose operating expenses are covered from other sources. All loan interest goes to the loan fund to provide loans to future applicants, to cover defaulted loans, to pay for the interest Windmill pays if it has borrowed the money it lends out, and to pay bank service charges.
How much will my payments be?
Read our loan terms and conditions to learn more about paying your loan back.
How do I request my next disbursement?
The Loan Management Team will be happy to help you with your next disbursement. You just need to email them at email@example.com to request it. Even if your next disbursement was scheduled for a certain month, it does not go to your account automatically, and you still need to request it from them.
Is my loan tax deductible?
Windmill (formerly IAF) loans are personal loans, rather than student loans (or government loans). Therefore, the interest payments on this loan are not tax deductible and we do not issue T4s for this loan.
Still have questions? Our loan team would be happy to answer your questions and help you get started in your application. Contact us here.
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