Canada is a country in the North American continent located right above the United States and is known as a highly developed country. The demand for people to travel to Canada has been steadily increasing in the last few years, but most people wonder how they can get to Canada.
What is a Canada Visa?
A Canada visa is a stamp on your passport which allows you to enter the country of Canada.
It is a permission for you to travel to the country and legally be able to stay either temporarily or permanently. Getting a visa to Canada means that the Canadian Consulate or Embassy in your home country decided that you are eligible and fulfill the requirements for entry. However, once you are at the Canadian border and customs, it is up to the officers at the border to evaluate whether you are fit to enter.
If you answer the Canadian Border Services Officer (BSO) questions honestly and correctly, they will allow you to enter. Otherwise, if they suspect that you are not eligible to enter, they can deny you and ask you to go back to your home country even if you have a Canada visa.
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Who Needs a Canadian Visa?
People from countries that do not have a visa exemption or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) agreement with Canada will need a visa to enter the country. More specifically, people from around 148 countries need a visa to visit, work, or immigrate to Canada.
If you are one of these applicants and you need a visa for Canada, you must apply for one. Depending on the type of visa you want, you will have a method of applying, but there are a few general steps you must take.
What are the Canada Visa Types?
Before you apply for a Canadian visa, you must first know which visa you want to apply for. Here are the types of Canada visas:
- Visitor visas.
- Student visas.
- Work visas.
- Permanent Residence visas.
- Business Immigrant visas.
- Express Entry Program visas.
You must pick the one that fits the motive of why you want to go to Canada.
Temporary Canada Visas
The temporary Canada visas allow the person to stay in Canada for a specific period of time which is determined by the Canadian Consulate or the Border Services Officers (BSO). This time is usually up to 6 months. However, the temporary visa can be single entry or multiple entry visa.
Single entry visa allows the person to only enter Canada once, stay for 6 months and then return to their home country. A multiple entry visa allows the person to enter Canada multiple times until their visa expires and stay temporarily.
Here are the types of Canadian Temporary Visas:
- Canada Tourist Visa. The Visitor Visa or the Tourist visa allows the holder to enter Canada for the purposes of tourism in the country.
- Canada Super Visa. The Canadian Super Visa allows parents or grandparents of Canadian citizens or Canadian Permanent Residents to visit their children or grandchildren for an extended stay.
- Diplomatic and Official Visa. The Diplomatic and Official visa gives permission to officials and diplomats from foreign countries to enter Canada for official duties and purposes.
- Courtesy Visa. The Courtesy visa is given to all those people who do not qualify for a Diplomatic and Official Visa but are considered of importance due to their ranks and positions. This includes for example, members of trade missions or diplomats with touristic intent.
- Canada Business Visa. The Business Visa is given to those who are travelling to Canada with business purposes as individuals or as a group of business people.
- Visa to Give Birth in Canada. This visa is given to people who fulfill all the criteria to stay temporarily in Canada and who are pregnant and want to give birth in the country. Giving birth in Canada makes the baby automatically a Canadian citizen.
- Intending Organ Donors Visa. This visa is given to a person who is traveling to Canada with the purpose of donating an organ to a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident.
- Canada Facilitation Visa. Facilitation Visas are given to Canadian citizens with dual nationalities who do not have a Canadian passport but have a passport of another nationality. The facilitation visa is stamped on the person’s other nationality visa due to extreme hardships of the person getting a Canadian passport.
- Canada Student Visa. A Canadian student visa is given to those who have an admission from a Canadian university to complete their studies. If you are going to Canada to study for less than 6 months, then you can only get a TRV visa, but for more than 6 months of studies, you will need a Student Visa.
- Canada Temporary Work Visa. Canada temporary work visas are given to those people who have a job offer in Canada and will work for up to 6 months. To get this visa, the person must present a valid job offer letter from an employer and qualify for a temporary visa.
- Temporary Residence Permit. This permit is for people who need to go to Canada for different purposes but are otherwise not admissible for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV). This permit is issued only for the length of time that the person needs to be in Canada, for example 2 weeks for a workshop.
- Working Holiday Visa. The Canada Working Holiday Visa is given to young people from 30 countries, so they can work in Canada and travel. It is a random selection visa which means that applicants will submit their applications and wait to be randomly selected to apply for the work permit.
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Permanent Canada Visas
The permanent Canada visas are visas which allow the holder to permanently settle in the country. These are otherwise known as immigrant visas and can be of different types, as follows:
- Immigrant Investor Program. The Immigrant Investor Program is for people who will make investments in the Canadian economy and have a net worth of at least CAD$800,000. They must invest at least CAD$400,000 and the government will return this investment to them in 5 years without any interest.
- Startup Visa Program. The Canada Startup Visa is for people who will be individually involved in contributing to the economy. They must have a net worth of at least CAD$300,000 and must commit to owning and managing at least one third of a Canadian business as well as create and maintain employment within 3 years of being in the country.
- Self-employed Persons Visa. The Self-employed Persons visa is for people who have skills in business, athletics, culture, or farming and can start their own businesses. These people must demonstrate how they will finance the business as well as their skills in those particular areas
- Quebec-Selected Skilled Worker Program (QSWP). If you have one of the occupations which are required in the Canadian province of Quebec and you are fluent in French, then you can apply for the Quebec Skilled Worker Program which will allow you to move and work permanently there.
- Family-Sponsorship Program. The Family Sponsorship Visa allows the spouses and dependent children of Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents to immigrate to Canada permanently.
- Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP). This visa is given to caregivers who are qualified to take care for elderly, disabled people, or children and live in a private home in Canada.
Express Entry Visas
The Canada Express Entry Program is an electronic immigration program designed by the Government of Canada. It allows people from all over the world to apply for immigration to Canada based on their specific skills.
The following are part of this program:
- Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
- Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
- Provincial Nomination Programs (PNP)
- Canadian Experience Class
Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
The Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) visa is given to people who are qualified tradespeople in occupations such as:
- Aircraft Mechanics
- Crane Operators
- Heavy-duty Equipment Mechanics
- Plumbers, etc.
Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
The visa under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) is given to people who have professions which are required in Canada. You must check what kind of occupations Canada needs at the point you are planning to apply and obtain the necessary points.
Provincial Nomination Programs (PNP)
This visa under the Provincial Nominee Program is given to semi or low-skilled workers who can contribute to the Canadian economy though their work. The workers are placed in different provinces of Canada where the demand for their work is higher.
Canadian Experience Class
The Canadian Experience Class permanent visa is given to those who have a temporary student visa or a temporary workers visa and want to switch to a permanent resident status. They either have a Canadian education or work experience and have settled into Canadian society.
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Canada Visa Application
The Canada visa application process depends mostly on the visa type you need to apply for.
To apply for a Canada visa, you need to go through these simple steps:
- Find out if you are eligible for a Canada visa.
- Create your online account.
- Compile the document file.
- Pay the fees.
- Wait for processing of your Canadian visa.
- Submit your passport and processing fees.
Find out if you are eligible for a Canada visa
To find out how to get a Canadian visa, the Canadian government has made it quite easy. They have created different tests that evaluate the eligibility of applicants by asking them to fill out an online questionnaire. Depending on the type of visa you want, you will be asked to answer several questions, and the system will then let you know whether you can apply or not. Additionally, it will also send you the relevant instructions and steps you must take to fulfill all the requirements.
How to navigate through the Canadian government website?
To be able to access these questionnaires and find out if you are eligible for the Canada visa, you must go to their website here. The website will show you different information and different tabs that you can select, but you must go to the Immigration tab.
When you hover or click on the Immigration tab, it will show you a drop-down list of options. The first one will be My Application, and then there will be tabs for Visit, Immigrate, Work, Study, and others. You must select the one that corresponds with the visa you want to apply for. As a continuation of the example we showed above, if you want to get a tourist visa, you must click on the Visit tab.
After you click on the tab that matches the reason you want to visit Canada and the visa you want to apply for, you will see more information there. Whichever tab you have clicked, one of the links will say “Find out if you can apply” or “Find out if you are eligible”. You must click on this link.
The link will take you to the questionnaire where you will have to answer several questions. They will range from your personal information to reasons why you want to visit Canada, and previous travel history. At the end of the questionnaire, the system will show you the results.
Receiving the results
You will be able to see three different types of results which say one of the following:
- You are eligible for the visa you have selected.
- You are eligible for a different type of visa that the system will match you with.
- You are not eligible for the visa.
If you are eligible for the visa you have selected or a different type of visa, the system will ask you to input your contact information (usually your email), and they will send you a set of documents.
The documents will contain a description of the visa, as well as instructions and details about how to apply. Additionally, they will send you a reference code.
The reference code is one of the most important information on that set of documents because you will have to use it to start your application. Without a reference code, you will not be able to apply. The reference code tells the system the information you have given it during your questionnaire and it will have the type of visa you are applying for.
Because of this, you must save the email and those documents. You can either write the reference code in different ways, such as send it to yourself, write it on your computer, or on a piece of paper, but you must not lose it. If you do, you will have to start the questionnaire process all over again.
Create your online account
Within the instructions sent to you by email, it will show you whether you must apply for a Canada visa online or in person. Since the Canadian government is digitalizing its records, most people will have to apply online. To do that, you must create an account.
There are two ways to create an account for the application:
- Using your online banking login since the Canadian Government has partnered with many banks;
- Creating a Government of Canada login (GCKey);
You can use whichever one fits you better, since either way you will have to use your banking details to pay the visa fees.
Compile the document file
Once you login to your account, you can start your Canada visa application. Use your reference code to start applying for the visa you have been deemed eligible for. Once you enter the reference code, the system will show you a list of documents for your Canadian visa application.
For a complete list of documents required for Canada visa application, you can visit the article here.
You must submit all of these forms online in the system and then proceed to submit the application.
Pay the fees
Once the system has verified that you have submitted all the necessary documents, it will take you to the payment page. You will have to pay the Canada visa fees depending on the type of visa you are applying for. When that is completed, your application will be submitted.
It will take around 5 workdays for you to see the application on your account, and if you apply in person, you will just have to take those documents to the Canadian Embassy in your home country.
Wait for processing of your Canadian Visa
The Canadian Embassy will then process your Canada visa application for two or more weeks depending on the type of visa. Additionally, they might ask for more documents, or for you to submit your biometrics and have an interview.
If they ask for your biometrics and an interview, this means you will have to visit the Embassy in person even if you applied online. You will have to make an appointment, or the Embassy will make one for you. At your appointment, you will have to submit your fingerprints and photographs, as well as answer questions from a Canadian Embassy official.
The official will determine whether you are fit to get a Canadian visa or not. They can let you know of their decision immediately after your appointment or send you a notification later.
All Embassy notifications regarding your visa will be posted on your account, so you must check it continuously, even if you did not have to submit biometrics or go through an interview.
Submit your passport and processing fees
If you receive a notification that your Canada visa application was successful, the next step is to submit your passport to the Canadian Embassy. This can be done by mailing it to the address of the Embassy in your country, together with processing fees. The processing fees depend on the type of visa you are applying for and will range from $20 to $50, which you must pay by check or money order. You must also pay for a return envelope for your passport.
The Embassy officials will receive your passport and fees, stamp the visa on your passport, and mail it back to you. If you get notified of their decision immediately after the visa interview, then you will have to pay the processing fees there and get the passport immediately.
After a Successful Canadian Visa Application
Once you have your visa, you can travel to Canada. At the point of entry, you will be asked to show your passport and documents. The officials will check them and ask a few questions about why you are going to Canada.
After you answer, they will make the decision whether to let you inside the country or not. The officials at the point of entry have the authority to not allow you inside Canada if they believe that you will commit crimes or not respect your visa restrictions. Having a Canadian visa does not guarantee that you will go to Canada, only the border officials are allowed to do that.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Visa to Canada?
The Canada visa processing time varies for each specific case. It can take anywhere between two to four weeks, or even longer.
Your Canadian visa begins to process only after the Canadian authorities have received your complete application.
If they need you to get them additional documents, the processing time will be delayed.
Can I Help Someone Get a Canada Visa?
If you have a family member or friend who is living abroad, and you want to bring them to visit Canada, you can write them a Letter of Invitation.
The Letter of Invitation must include the following information: About the person you are inviting:
- Full name and date of birth
- The reason they want to come to Canada
- How long they intend to stay in Canada and when they will leave
- Their contact information
- The relationship you share
- Where they will stay
- How they will finance their trip
- Your full name and date of birth
- Your occupation
- Your residential status in Canada (Canadian citizen or permanent resident)
- Your family details – names and dates of birth of your immediate family members (spouse and dependents)
- How many people live in your household
However, the Letter of Invitation does not guarantee that they will get a Canada visa. The visa will be processed on its own merit, but the letter may help.
If you want to sponsor a family member to join you in Canada permanently or long-term, you can do so through the Canada Family Sponsorship Program.
How Can I Extend my Stay in Canada?
If your Canada visitor visa is about to expire, and you want to stay longer, you have to apply for a visa extension. This is called a Canada Visitor Record.
You have to apply for a visa extension for Canada (visitor record) at least 30 days before your visitor visa expires.
Other than extending a tourist visa, you can change your study or work permit to a Visitor Record as well. However, a visitor record is only available while you are inside Canada.
If you want to leave Canada and enter again, you will not be allowed entry with a visitor record.
What Happens if I Overstayed my Canada Visa?
If you have stayed in Canada past the expiry of your visa, the next step depends on how long you have overstayed.
If you’ve overstayed for less than 90 days, you can restore your visitor status by applying for a Visitor Record and selecting “Restore my status as a visitor”.
If you’ve overstayed for longer than 90 days, you cannot apply to restore your status and have to leave Canada. You may not be able to get another Canada visa.
However, you should try not to overstay a Canada visa. If you think you may need to stay longer than the duration of your visa, apply for a visa extension before it expires.
How Much is a Canada Visa Fee?
The Canada visa fee depends on the type of visa you are applying for. There are also different types of fees you must pay, such as a processing fee and a biometrics fee.
A normal Visitor Visa fee, however, is $CAN100.
See the Canada visa fees here.
What if My Canada Visa is Rejected?
If your Canada visa application is rejected, you can re-apply again at anytime, provided that your rejection letter does not forbid you from re-applying.
However, you can re-apply only if your situation has changed or you have additional information that may help you get a Canada visa approval.
As for appeals, there is no formal process to appeal a Canada tourist visa decision. Appeals are only available for refugee and permanent residency applications. They are processed by the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD).
Will I Get a Refund if my Canada Visa Application is Rejected?
Canada visa fees are non-refundable, even if your application is rejected. That’s because you’re paying a fee for the visa application to be processed, not for the visa itself.
However, in some cases, you may get a refund if your withdraw your application before it starts to process. After it has started to process, you will not get a refund.
Additionally, if your application is you may receive a refund for the following:
- The fee for Right of Permanent Residence
- The fee for Right of Citizenship
- The fee for an Open Work Permit
- The fee for International Experience Canada (IEC)
- The fee for Employer Compliance
However, you can still request a refund for any of your fees through the Government of Canada: Immigration and citizenship website.
Can I Apply for a Canada Visa From Another Country?
In some cases, there is no Canadian embassy or Visa Application Center in your country of residence. In this case, you may have to travel to another country to apply for a Canada visa.
However, you must only apply for a visa at the Canadian embassy or VAC responsible for your jurisdiction (ie. for the country you are a legal resident of).
Additionally, if you are from Country A and have a residence permit for Country B, you can apply for a Canadian visa from Country B.
However, if you are simply visiting Country B and do not have legal residency there, you have to apply at the Canadian embassy or Visa Application Center responsible for your jurisdiction, in your own country or otherwise.
You can give your biometrics at a Canadian Visa Application center. The Canadian embassy will send you a letter informing you of when you have to give your biometrics. To receive the letter, you must pay the biometrics fee when you submit your Canada visa application.
There are Visa Application Centers worldwide where you can submit your biometrics. Visit the website of the one nearest to you to find out about the fees and services they offer.
Do I Need to Submit Biometrics For my Canada Visa Application?
Yes, most visa applicants have to give their biometrics (fingerprints and picture) when applying for a Canada visa, regardless of the type of visa being applied for.
What Does a Canadian Visa look like?
A Canadian visa is a stamp on the passport and has a distinct look. It usually does not include a picture, but includes the following information:
- The place the visa was issued;
- Date of issuance and expiration;
- Number of entries allowed;
- Document number;
- Visa category;
- Visa type;
- The visa holder’s last and first name;
- Passport number.
The examples below show three types of how Canada visas look for visitors, workers, and immigrants.
How Can I Travel to The US as a Canada Visa Holder?
To travel to the US from Canada, you might be required to apply for a US visa in Canada. However, if you are a citizen of a country in the Visa Waiver Program, you are not required to apply for a US visa from Canada, but you will have to apply for ESTA instead.