How to apply for Canadian Visitor Visa – Step by step guide

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Are you planning to apply for Canadian Visitor Visa? Read on this post for a step-by-step guide:

Pre-Requisites:

  • A digital photograph with a final frame size of at least 35mm X 45 mm showing a full front view of the head and tops of shoulders, with the face in the middle of the photograph. You can get one clicked at any neighborhood photo studio like (wallgreens, costco etc).
  • Scanned copy of last 3 months’ pay stub.
  • Scanned copy of last 3 months Bank statement.
  • Scanned copy of employment letter (Employment verification letter).

Step-by-Step Process: Applying for a Canadian visitor visa is a two step process: Apply online on CIC website by filling up forms, uploading supporting documents and paying the fees. Within next 1-3 weeks, CIC will evaluate your application details and make a decision. If approved, you will be asked to submit your passport to VAC for visa stamping. Depending upon the shipping transit times, the stamping process can also take up to 4-10 business days.

Fill up online application form:

  • Get started by visiting CIC website to check your eligibility and start the application process.
  • Follow the steps in the link above and answer the questions to validate your eligibility. Once completed, you will be given a reference code and a document checklist. Keep the reference code handy and print out the document checklist page. The reference code is valid for 60 days. See the snapshot below.

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  • Fill the Visa application form.
  • Create a MyCIC login if you do not already have one. Visit this link and sign up using either a ‘Sign-in partner’ or ‘GC Key’. If you are staying in US, its unlikely that you will have an account with any of the ‘Sign-in partners’ like BMO, TD, Scotia Banks. You should choose to sign up using ‘GC Key’ and create a username and password.
  • Login to MyCIC portal and select ‘Visitor visa, study and/or work permit’ service to continue. You will be asked to enter the personal reference code you received in the step above.
  • Once you enter your personal reference code, you will be guided through the following steps to complete the application:
    • Upload your documents
    • Review your application
    • Pay with credit card
    • Submit your application
  • Once you submit your payment, you will be redirected to application confirmation page and the next steps involved. You should also receive an email from MyCIC account.
  • You can check the status of your application here.
  • Within next 1-2 business weeks, you will receive an email from CIC asking you to submit your passport to VAC (Visa application Center). This indicates that your application was approved and now CIC needs your passport to stamp the visa. (This step is the most confusing part of the process as the email from CIC is not descriptive enough and causes confusion among applicants).

Once you receive confirmation email, submit passport and VAC fees: Once your application is approved and you get an email from CIC to submit you passport, do the following. (Note that VAC fees and passport have to be sent to different addresses.)

  • Submit VAC fees:
    • Cashier’s check of $31.40 (or the amount mentioned in the email from CIC) per applicant issued to “CSRA Consular Services Inc”. Note that the fees varies with varying exchange rates and refer to this link before ordering cashier’s check.  If there are multiple applicants, you can prepare just one check for all the applicants (For eg, for 2 applicants, prepare one check for $62.80).
    • Prepare a copy of cashier’s check.
    • Prepare a mail package with the cashier’s check and mail it to corresponding VAC center:
      • For LA CSC center, send your check at CSRA Consular Services Inc, P.O. Box 841908, Dallas, TX 75284-9557.
      • For NY CSC center, send your check at CSRA Consular Services Inc, P.O. Box 419557, Boston, MA 02241-9557.
  • Submit your passport to VAC, get the following documents ready:
    • Passport request letter from CIC. (This is the email from CIC asking you to submit your passport).
    • Original Passport.
    • 2 signed copies of VAC consent form. Print and fill up the VAC consent form with your details along with signature. Note that you will need two signed copies per applicant. If you are applying with your spouse or as a family, you need to prepare VAC consent forms for each one of them.
    • Copy of cashier’s check (prepared in the step above).
    • Contact information of each applicant on a plain paper. It should contain your full address, email and phone number.
    • A prepaid return envelope from USPS. Go to your nearest USPS (not any other vendor), and ask for an envelope big enough to hold your passport and documents (something like this). Depending on your urgency, you can choose Priority mail (1-3 days) or Ground return (2-9 days).
    • Prepare a package with all the above documents (including return envelope) and mail it to your respective the VAC center . You can find the complete address in CIC email or look up this link.
      • For LA VAC center, send your package to Visa Application Centre – Los Angeles, 2120 E Grand Avenue Suite 108A, El Segundo, CA, 90245
      • For NY VAC center, send your package to Visa Application Centre – New York, 290 Madison Ave,2nd fl., (41st Street & 40th Street), New York, NY 10017
  • Use the tracking numbers of your package and return USPS envelope, you can keep a close eye on your passport status. For any queries, you can contact VAC at their customer care call center. They are quite responsive and helpful.

Useful tips:

  • Allow yourself 2-3 weeks for the complete process of getting Canadian Visitor visa stamped.
  • The visa fees for Single-Entry and Multi-entry is same and unless you have a strong reason to not do so, always apply for multiple entry visitor visa.
  • The validity of Visitor visa is 10 years or your passport expiry date, whichever is less.
  • When asked to submit passports to VAC, you can use same mail to submit passport for multiple applicants.
  • There are two VAC centers in USA – LA and NY. You will be assigned one based on your geographical location. While submitting the fees and passport, double check your VAC address from the one mentioned in email from CIC.
  • In case of delays or any other issue, you should contact VAC customer care. Do not call Canadian consulate as they have no insights into your passport tracking and status.
  • The VAC fees structure can be quite confusing on CSC website.  To make it more clear, if you choose to submit your application through:
    1. Through the VAC (In-Person) – Pay $36.96 VAC fees.
    2. By mail to the VAC (using a courier) -Pay passport delivery service fees of $31.40

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