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 of people to travel to Canada has been steadily increasing 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.
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:
The Canada Visitor Visa or the Tourist visa allows the holder to enter Canada for the purposes of tourism in the country.
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.
The Diplomatic and Official visa gives permission to officials and diplomats from foreign countries to enter Canada for official duties and purposes.
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.
The Canada Business Visa is given to those who are travelling to Canada with business purposes as individuals or as a group of business people.
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.
The Intending Organ Donors 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.
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.
A Canada 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
The Family Sponsorship Visa allows the spouses and dependent children of Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents to immigrate to Canada permanently.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Travelling Abroad as a Canadian Visa Holder
Travelling to the US
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.