Are you planning a trip to explore the incredible natural beauty, diverse cultures, and friendly hospitality that Canada has to offer? As an international visitor, you’ll need to obtain a visitor visa before you can experience the wonders of this scenic country.
With adequate preparation and also diligently following the application steps, your Canada dream vacation can become a reality. I know that to everyone attempting this for the first time, applying for a Canada visitor visa may seem complicated at first, but we will walk you through the entire process in this blog post.
By the end of reading this post on How to Apply for a Canada Visitor Visa, you’ll understand exactly what to do to receive your Canada visitor visa approval quickly.
How to Apply for a Canada Visitor Visa
Any foreign citizens planning to travel to Canada must submit a visa application through the government immigration and citizenship department, specifically Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (known by its acronym IRCC).
The specific visa application forms you need to complete and the overall application process that must be followed can vary pretty significantly/widely depending on a few key factors related to your intended visit. This includes very importantly your main purpose and reasons for coming to Canada, how long you are planning to stay as a visitor, your country of citizenship that will determine eligibility rules, as well as some additional qualifying factors that can impact the visa requirements.
The application criteria and procedures can also differ from one applicant to the next based upon these central pieces of information that make up every prospective visitor’s individual situation and profile.
In general, the Canada visitor visa application involves:
- Determining eligibility requirements, you must meet
- Filling out an online or paper application form
- Paying required visa fees
- Providing supporting documents like passport, photos, letter of invitation, etc.
- Giving biometrics in some cases
- Interviewing at a visa office for some nationalities
- Waiting for approval and receiving an Electronic Travel Authorization or visa sticker
Next, let’s look closer at the eligibility criteria.
Canada Visitor Visa Requirements
When applying for a Canada visitor visa, you must prove:
- Your valid passport: Must be valid for entire duration of stay.
- Have sufficient funds: Bank statements and pay stubs proving ability to cover costs.
- Have a return ticket home: Must show you plan to leave Canada.
- Ties to home country: Proof of employment, property, family, or other ties.
- Admissibility: Security and health clearances to enter.
- Signed application form: Fully completed with all information accurately provided.
Meeting all the requirements confirms you aim to temporarily and lawfully visit Canada.
What Are the Costs for a Canada Visitor Visa?
Fees will depend sometimes on your nationality and case, but the standard costs are:
- $100 CAD visa application fee
- $85 CAD biometrics fee (for fingerprints and photo)
There may also be fees for:
- Translation of documents
- Courier service
- Canadian police certificate
- Medical exam
- Legal services
Be prepared to pay all costs upfront as you apply. Fees can be paid securely online by credit or debit card, bank draft, certified check, money order, or other accepted methods.
The Application fees can be paid easily through secure online payment channels using either a credit or debit personal card, a bank-verified monetary draft, a check validated as certified through special on-demand processing measures, an postal money order instrument, or occasionally some other less utilized but still designated as formally accepted payment methods as explicitly outlined by immigration authorities.
How to Thoroughly Complete the Canada Visitor Visa Application Process
Now that you know the basic requirements and costs, let’s look at the actual application process:
Step 1: Determine if you need an eTA or visitor visa
The first step is figuring out whether you need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) or a visitor visa based on your citizenship. An eTA allows visa-exempt foreign nationals to fly to or transit through Canada without applying for a full visitor visa.
Check if your country has visa-exempt status to see if you qualify for an eTA. Over 50 nationalities can obtain the online eTA approval in just minutes.
If you are not from an eTA-eligible country, then you will need to apply for a Canada visitor visa instead.
Step 2: Complete the appropriate application form
If you need a visitor visa, you must complete the application form for a temporary resident visa. If eligible for an eTA, fill out the much shorter eTA form instead.
You can easily get the Forms on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. You can also print a paper copy or apply directly online if available for your country.
The form asks questions about your purpose for visiting Canada, duration of stay, personal background, passport details, previous travel, health, criminal history, and more.
Step 3: Gather your supporting documents
In addition to a properly completed form, you must compile all required supporting documents. This includes:
- Valid passport
- Proof of financial support during your stay
- Flight itinerary showing return or onward ticket
- Letter of invitation if visiting friends or family
- Additional documents depending on the purpose of your travel
Ensure all documents are properly translated if not originally in English or French.
Essentially, provide an abundant paper trail verifying your financial and social situation at home. This convinces officers you will depart Canada when required as expected.
Step 4: Pay required fees
Aside from the form and documents, you must pay all necessary processing fees, including:
- $100 CAD visitor visa application fee
- $85 CAD biometrics fee (photos + fingerprints)
- Other potential costs depending on your case
Keep the receipts to include in your application.
Step 5: Give your biometrics
If you are from a country that requires biometrics collection, you must set up an appointment with an approved provider to give fingerprints and a digital photograph.
Locations can be found on Canada’s Immigration website. Bring your passport and biometrics instruction letter given after submitting the visa application.
Step 6: Submit your complete application
You may submit your complete paper visitor visa application by mail to the Canadian High Commission in Abuja. Or if available, start your application online then attend an interview at a Visa Application Centre instead.
Pay all processing and biometrics fees upfront regardless of submission method used. Then comes the hardest part – waiting.
Step 7: Wait for processing
Allow plenty of time for the visa office’s decision, which may take several weeks to months depending on your country of citizenship. Routine applications are prioritized.
Check application status by creating an account on the IRCC website. Do not inquire unless it has exceeded the average processing time.
That concludes the key steps that make up the Canada visitor visa application process from start to finish. While lengthy, following this process correctly helps ensure a successful result.
Citizens of a few countries, like Nigeria, face stricter requirements when seeking a Canada visitor visa due to historical visa non-compliance rates.
Nigerians need to take additional steps to ensure they provide all Additional Requirements.
Due to the higher visa refusal rates, the Canadian High Commission imposes extra requirements for Nigerian citizen applicants like:
- Bank Letter
You must obtain an official bank letter verifying your account balances and financial solvency. This letter should be on bank letterhead with proper stamps/signatures.
- In-Person Interview
Almost all Nigerian applicants will be asked to complete a visa interview at a Canada Visa Application Centre. This is your chance to explain your case. Dress professionally and be prepared with documents.
- Lengthier Processing
Allow 12 weeks at minimum for your application to be reviewed. Status cannot be tracked online until after this period due to heightened scrutiny. Expect 16+ weeks processing time.
- Shorter Validity
Visitor visas granted to Nigerians often have limits, such as being one-time entry only or valid only for 6 months from issue date. Plan your travel timeline accordingly.
Are Ready to Visit This Beautiful Country?
We hope this post on How to Apply for a Canada Visitor Visa has equipped you to confidently complete the Canada visitor visa application from start to finish. Don’t forget that, the process to take time, effort, and documentation in order to be approved.
The chance to safely access such a naturally stunning, culturally diverse, and welcoming country makes it well worth the effort.