How to Apply for a Canada Visa?

All you need to know about the application process for a Canada Visa

There is a high demand for a Canadian visa, as the country is one of the more popular places people want to visit for working or studying. Nowadays, there is also a rise in the demand for permanent immigration from people. However, before any of this is done, applicants need to know if they need a Canada visa or not.

If you need a visa to visit Canada, you have to apply by following a systematic process. There are several types of visas, and depending on your status, you will have a method of applying. Although, there are few general steps that the applicants should follow.

This guide will describe in detail the general Canadian visa application process step by step.

Canada Visa Application

Know which visa you want to apply for

First of all, you must understand what type of Canadian visa you require in order to start the application process. There are several types of visas, which are segmented into categories from a student visa, visitor visas, work visas, as well as permanent residence visas. You must choose the visa that suits your travel intentions. For example, if you are visiting Canada for work, you must apply for a work Visas.

Research the information on that visa

After you picked the visa that suits your intentions, the next step is to gather as much information as you can about that particular visa. You must be aware of the things you are allowed to do, as well as what is prohibited. The duration of the stay is also a very important factor, but you must know if you can apply for extensions, permanent residence, or even Canadian citizenship.

By researching the visa requirements, you must know whether you can fulfill them. If you are in a situation that you cannot match the requirements and you are not eligible, then it is better to find a different visa, rather than waste your time applying for it and get rejected. That is where the next step comes in.

Find out if you are eligible

The process of finding out if you can get a Canadian visa is simplified by the Canadian government. There is an online questionnaire that can evaluate the eligibility of every applicant, by asking them to fill out the answers on some particular questions. Regarding the visa type you are interested in, you will be asked to answer several questions, as the system will determine your eligibility. Furthermore, it will also send you instructions and steps to follow in order to get your visa.

If you want to access the questionnaire and find out your eligibility, you can go to their website here. The website is segmented into different tabs that you can select, but you must go to the Immigration tab.

By hovering or clicking the Immigration tab, you will see a drop-down list of all the options. The first one is My Application, following by tabs for Visit, Study, Immigrate, and others. You should choose the option that complies with your visa requirements. As we showed the example above, if you want to get a tourist visa, you must click on the Visit tab.

When you find and click on the tab that corresponds with your reasons for visiting Canada as well as the visa type you want to apply for, you will see more detailed information there. Whichever tab you selected, one of the following links will say “Find out if you are eligible” or “Find out if you can apply”. You must click on this link to find out.

By clicking the link you will be taken directly to the questionnaire where you will have to answer a couple of questions. The questions can stretch from reasons why you want to visit Canada to personal information and previous travel history. When you completed all the questions successfully, the system will show you the results.

You can get three different types of results which say one of the following:

  1. You are not eligible for the visa
  2. You are eligible for a different type of visa that the system will match you with
  3. You are eligible for the visa you have selected

If the system proves that you are eligible for the visa you have selected or a different type of visa, it will ask you to provide your contact information (usually your email), where they will send you a set of documents that are required.

In the email you receive, you will find a description of the visa, as well as for instructions and information on how to apply.  Additionally, they will send you a reference code.

This reference code is one of the most important information that is provided to you with the set of documents, just because you will have to use it in order to start your application process. Remember, you will not be able to apply without a reference code. The reference code informs the system about the questions you answered on the questionnaire as well as the type of visa you are applying for. 

Just because of the importance of the email containing all the documents, you must save it. It is crucial that you write the reference code in different places, on your computer, or on a piece of paper that will prevent you from losing it. In case you lose your reference code, you must take the questionnaire process all over again.

Create your account

The mail you received will contain information on whether you must apply online or in person. But since the Canadian government wants to digitize its records, most of the applicants will have to apply online. In order to apply online, you must create an account first.

You can create an account for application in two different ways:

  • Create a Government of Canada login (GCKey)
  • Use your online banking login since the Canadian Government has partnered with many banks

You can choose the option that suits you better; either way, you will have to use your banking details in order to pay for the visa fees.

Start your application

After you created and login into your account, the application process can be started. You must use your reference code to start the application process for the visa that you have been deemed eligible. Once you pass this phase and enter the reference code, the system will show you a list of documents that are required for your application. This list will include the following, but is not limited to:

  • Family information forms
  • Travel history and passport scan
  • Criminal history forms
  • Employment and education credentials
  • Application forms
  • Financial and bank statements
  • Visa Photographs
  • Invitation letter (if you are visiting a family member or friend)
  • Travel itinerary (flight and hotel reservations)
  • Personal declaration as to why you want to go to Canada, etc.

In order to proceed with your application, you must submit all of these forms online in the system. Once you submitted all the necessary documents and the system has verified them, it will redirect you to the payment page. Depending on the type of visa you apply for, the fees may vary. You will have to pay the visa fees that will be presented to you. When this step is complicated, your visa application will be submitted.

It will take around 5 work days in order for you to see the application on your account, and if you applied in person, you will have to take those documents directly to the Canadian Embassy in your home country.

Wait for processing

Again, there are many factors that can be considered for the waiting process. The Canadian Embassy will process your application for two or more weeks depending on the visa type. Additionally, they might require more documents, or submit your biometrics and have an interview.

If they ask you for your biometrics or schedule an interview, you must visit the Embassy in person, even if you applied online. You must arrange an appointment, or the Embassy will make one for you. At the time of your visit, you will have to submit your fingerprints and photographs, as well as answer truthfully the questions from a Canadian Embassy official.

After the interview, the Embassy official will determine whether you fulfill the requirements to get a Canadian visa or not. They might inform you upon their decision immediately or send you notification later.

All of the notifications about your visa application processes will be posted on your account, so you must check it continuously, even if you do not have to submit biometrics or attend an interview.

Submit your passport and processing fees 

After receiving a notification that your visa application was approved, the next step is to submit your passport to the Canadian Embassy. This step can be completed by mailing your passport to the address of the Embassy in your country, along with all the processing fees. All of the processing fees may vary depending on the visa type that you apply for and range from $20 to $50, which must be paid by check or money order. You are also required to pay for a return envelope for your passport.

Since the Embassy officials received your passport alongside with the fees, they will stamp the visa on your passport, and mail it back to you. If you are notified about their decision after the interview, you will have to pay the processing fees immediately as well as get the passport at that moment.

Travel to Canada

Once you finished with the process and obtain your visa, you can travel to Canada. You will be asked to present your passport and documents at the point of entry. Your passport and documents will be examined by officials and they might ask you a few questions about the intentions of your visit to Canada.

The officials will make the decision whether to allow you to enter the country or not. Remember, the officials have the authority to deny you entry if they think you would commit crimes or not respect your visa restrictions. Therefore, we can say that having a visa does not guarantee your entry into Canada.