Canadians, who are currently fifth in the list of the nations that hold the most powerful passports in the world, can enter more than 170 countries without the need of obtaining a visa first. Among these countries is also listed the United States of America, since Canadian citizens along with Bermudian citizens do not need a visitor visa to enter the country for nonimmigrant purposes.
However, Canadian residents may require a visitor visa to enter the U.S whether or not they hold a citizenship of one of the 38 visa waiver countries. They have to obtain an ESTA first, which can be done through a very simple, cheap and quick online process.
Keep in mind that not every Canadian resident wishing to enter the US can do that with just an Electronic System for Travel Authorization, since there is no guarantee that each applicant will be granted with an authorization. Even when the applicant obtains this authorization, the U.S. Immigration officials at the port of entry will determine whether a traveller should be allowed to enter or not.
Electronic System for Travel Authorization for Canadian Residents
The US automated system called the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) determines the eligibility of travelers to visit the US, under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP is administered by the US Department of Homeland Security and permits the residents of 38 countries to travel to the US for tourism and business for up to 90 days, with just a travel authorization.
However, the citizens of these 38 countries, when traveling to the US for other reasons as employment, must apply for a regular visa as regulated by the US visa policy. In addition, if you are a Canadian resident who wishes to enter the US with the purpose of business or tourism, but who after being rejected from getting a travel authorization, then you will have to apply for a regular visa.
The first thing that you have to do before starting the application for a US visa from Canada, ask yourself “Do I need a visa for USA from Canada?”
In case you have not applied for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization yet, and you are unsure, whether you will be granted with one, or even if you are very confident that you will not be able to get one, do not immediately start a visa application. Instead, try applying for an ESTA, since not only the process is very easy and quick, but it also costs very little ($14USD).
Canadian Residents Ineligible for Travel Authorization
There is a list of visa categories that Canadian residents need to obtain in order to enter the US, for which purposes they cannot enter the US with an ESTA. Following, find a list of purposes for which one must obtain a visa to enter the US:
- TN/TD Visas: for Canada and Mexico citizens who work in NAFTA
- Treaty traders and investors need to obtain an E-1 or an E-2 visa
- oreign citizen fiancé(e) need to obtain a K-1 Visa, whereas the fiancé(e)’s children need to obtain a K-2 Visa
- US citizen’s foreign citizen spouse traveling to reside in the US while awaiting final completion of the process of immigration needs to obtain a K-3 Visa, as well as the spouse’s children need a K-4 Visa
- Spouses of lawful permanent residents need an V-1 Visa, as well as the spouse’s children who are traveling to reside in the US while awaiting final completion of the process of immigration need a V-2 Visas
- Persons travelling to the United States for work need to obtain a TN Visa according to their profession
- Canadian government officials who shall obtain an A Visas when entering the US for temporary or permanent assignment
- Officials and employees of international organizations shall obtain G Visas when entering the U.S. for temporary or permanent assignment; and
- NATO officials, representatives, and employees, only if they are being assigned to the US as opposed to an official trip.
TN Visa for Canadian Citizens
To create better relationships between countries in America, the U.S in cooperation with Canada and Mexico created the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This agreement, besides its economic and trade benefits, also has travelling and working advantages on a TN visa.
The TN Visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows citizens of Canada to live and work in the U.S temporarily and holders of this visa have to return to Canada upon its expiration. This visa allows only citizens of Canada and Mexico, not permanent residents to work in the U.S if they find a job beforehand. There are about 63 occupations for which Canadians qualify to work while holding this visa.
A distinct feature of the TN visa is the fact that there is no need for sponsoring from the employer. This makes the fees for the employer and employee very low. The employer does not have to pay the listed fees as in the H-1B visa, except for the Form I-129 petition fee and premium processing fee of $1,225.
Do Canadian Citizens Need a Visa to Study in the U.S?
Canadians that wish to carry their studies in the US, do not need to obtain a visa. However, they still need to obtain a few documents that must be showed to the US Officer at the port of entry.
These documents are as follows:
- A valid Canadian passport
- An original I-20 certificate or a DS-2019
- Evidence of paid SEVIS fee
- Evidence of financial means to cover expenses in the US (including school fees)
- Proof of strong ties with Canada
US Visa Required Documents
The main part of every application process is the gathering of required documents. There is a number of certain required documents for every type of US visa that the applicant will have to submit. Following, find the commonly required documents:
- Appointment confirmation page (if applicable) – in general applicants from the age of 14 to the age of 79 that apply for a USA visa from Canada need to appoint and attend an interview in person. If you belong to this group you must print the appointment confirmation page which you receive in your email after appointing the interview, and take it with you on your interview day.
- Confirmation page that you have completed the application form DS-160 – which you will receive in your email after completing the form.
- Valid Passport – for at least 6 months beyond your date of planned stay in the US. Keep in mind that your passport must have at least one blank page in order to be able to affix visa.
- Two identical photos – of 5 x 5 cm size, color and taken within the last 6 months. If you have successfully uploaded a picture to the DS-160 application form, then you are not required to submit an additional photo.
- Previous US visas (if applicable) – if you have ever been to the US you must show proof by presenting the visas. IF these visas are affixed in and older passport then take that passport with you too at the appointment center.
- ACRO – which is a police certificate you obtain from the authorities in your country and proves if you have ever been arrested, cautioned or convicted.
- Letter from an approved physician, if you have a medical condition that could have a bearing on your eligibility for a visa (the Canadian embassies and consulates have a list of approved doctors, therefore check this list and carry the medical controls at one of them. If you bring a report from another doctor that is not approved by the embassy then your application will be rejected.)
- Letter of invitation for B-2 visa applicants
- If you have ever been rejected from entering or deported from the US, you must also submit documents in this regard, which tell the reasons behind the deportation / rejection.
How to Apply for US Visa in Canada?
Every US visa applicant from Canada, from 14 to 79 should appoint an interview online by following some easy steps. The first step is completing the online application form DS-160 and then print the confirmation page you receive in your email. Take this page with you when you attend the interview.
The application form asks questions about personal information as your:
- full name
- marital status
- birth details
- contact number
- passport details
- family information
The second part of the form contains questions on security and background information, including the following questions:
- Do you have a communicable disease of public health significance such as tuberculosis (TB)?
- Do you have a mental or physical disorder that poses or is likely to pose a threat to the safety or welfare of yourself or others?
- Are you or have you ever been a drug abuser or addict?
- Have you ever been arrested or convicted for any offense or crime, even though subject of a pardon, amnesty, or other similar action?
- Have you ever violated, or engaged in a conspiracy to violate, any law relating to controlled substances?
- Are you coming to the United States to engage in prostitution or unlawful commercialized vice or have you been engaged in prostitution or procuring prostitutes within the past 10 years?
- Have you ever been involved in, or do you seek to engage in, money laundering?
- Do you seek to engage in espionage, sabotage, export control violations, or any other illegal activity while in the United States?
- Do you seek to engage in terrorist activities while in the United States or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities?
- Have you ever or do you intend to provide financial assistance or other support to terrorists or terrorist organizations?
- Are you a member or representative of a terrorist organization?
- Have you ever ordered, incited, committed, assisted, or otherwise participated in genocide?
Keep in mind that you must answer all questions honestly and correctly. If the information you give in this form does not match with your other documents, then you will most probably be rejected.
After that, go to https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-ca/niv and pay the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) application fee and schedule an interview. You can do that by following these steps:
- Create a user account in the given website
- Enter the DS-160 confirmation number you have received in your email after completing the form
- Complete the courier document return process (if applicable)
- Pay the application fee (Which varies depending on your visa type, see below!)
- Schedule an appointment for interview
The MRV Fee for visa applicants depends on the type of visa one applies for. While the MRV fee does not actually change, your type of visa does.
- MRV Fee – $160
- Petition Based Applicants (H, L, O, P, Q, R) – $190
- E-1, E-2 visa applicants – $205
If you are planning on using premium services, through which you can get an answer on you application for a shorter time, then get ready to pay a lot more.
US Visa Interview for Canadian Residents
If you are under the age of 14 or over the age of 79 you will not need to show up for an interview. On the other hand, every other applicant from 14 to 79 that applies for a USA visa from Canada have to appear in person at the US consulate or embassy for the interview. Applicants under 14 and over 79 are eligible to apply by a courier.
You can attend your interview at the US Embassy in Ottawa, or at one of the following consulates across Canada:
- US Consulate General in Calgary
- US Consulate General in Halifax
- US Consulate General in Montreal
- US Consulate General in Quebec
- US Consulate General in Toronto
- US Consulate General in Vancouver
- US Consulate in Winnipeg
On the day of your appointment, show up on time, since if you are late your appointment might be cancelled, especially if there is a crowd waiting to get interviewed. Have all your documents with you, and nicely organized so you will not have a mess in your hands when you meet the consular officer.
Before you attend the interview, the embassy / consulate staff will collect, data enter and examine your application documents. You will have your fingerprints scanned, and then you will have a few-minutes-short interview with a consular officer who will ask you about why you wish to enter the US and other questions regarding your trip.
Native Indians Born in Canada Traveling to US
Since the Jay Treaty signed in 1974, the Native Indians born in Canada can freely move from Canada to the US, without the need to obtain a visa first. However, they must be able to show strong evidence that they are at least 50% of the American Indian race.
Such evidence might be:
- an identification card from the Ministry of Indian and Northern Affairs
- a written statement from an official of the tribe from which your ancestors originate (which must explicitly state what percentage American Indian blood you or your parents possess, based on official records)
The traveler must also provide other identification documents as:
- driver’s license, or
A Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant travel document, which makes special provisions for First Nation travelers, is also required.