Canada is the world’s second largest country in the world. The country has vast lands, diverse landscape that has a large prospect to explore. I am sure many of you have Canada in their bucket list to travel. In the Northern Canada, you will find glaciers, blue lakes, rivers and spectacular mountain ranges that we call the Cascades. The only concern visitors and locals face is their harsh winter which starts pretty early. So I would suggest the best time to visit Canada would be between June and September.
We visited the southern most part of Canada – the Vancouver, British Columbia in the month of September. I felt this is the land which offers something for all kind of travelers. But before you embark on your journey, there are few things that needs to be kept in mind. The first and foremost is to apply for a visitor visa if you need one. The application process is pretty simple and straight forward.
HOW TO APPLY ?
I am linking all the Government websites in my blog and here is the link to find out whether you need a visitor visa to go to Canada. Click here
Once you figure out that you need a visitor visa to travel to Canada, you reach this page. Click here
If you choose to apply online, click here
To access the application form, you either have to create an account using Canadian banking partner Or
via GC key which is a securely accessed online service of the Government of Canada.
We applied the Canadian visitor visa via online through the Canada Government website (GC Key) : https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/application/account.html.
After creating an account, you will be directed to your accounts dashboard where you can “START YOUR APPLICATION”.
HOW TO FIND OUT IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE?
Once you are logged in and before you start the application for a visitor visa, you will be asked a series of questions. It includes your legal residency status in the country from which you will be applying, how long is the trip, what province will you be visiting etc. After analyzing all the answers, the next page will tell you if you are eligible or not. This process can be done even before starting the application. I have shared the link above.
WHERE ARE THE DOCUMENT CHECKLIST?
Moving forward, you will be presented with a document checklist which displays all the required documents that needs to be uploaded. These include application form , consent form, family information forms etc. The process is very well maintained, you can quit anytime you want. If you feel you do not have enough information to fill in and at any point you feel like not able to upload any documents, you can quit and start from the same place again. You have 30 days to complete the application.
DO I NEED TO TAKE MY BIO METRICS?
Yes, if you have not given the bio metrics to the Canadian Immigration (for any other purpose); you definitely have to get an appointment at your nearest bio metrics center and give the bio metrics. Bio metrics was introduced from December 2017.
So the Visa fee is CAD 100 and the bio metrics fee is CAD 85. After making all the payments, you will be getting a letter stating that your application has been submitted. You will also receive instructions to submit your bio metrics. As I already told you before, giving the bio metrics for Canadian Visitor Visa came into effect since December 31, 2018 for applicants from Asia, Asia Pacific and the America.And if you have already submitted before you dint have to give one. You only have to give bio metrics if you receive a letter stating so.
WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP?
After taking the appointment at the nearest VFS centre, you have to show up on the day of appointment with the biometrics letter, passport and appointment letter confirmation. From here on, it is waiting period. You can check all the status of your application online in the GC key portal.
WHEN WILL I SUBMIT MY PASSPORT?
After your application is approved, you will receive a message on the portal that they are requesting your passport. Either you can mail the passport or can submit it in person. We submitted via mail. Please do not respond to any junk mails from IRCC, only upon the receipt of the Passport request letter, submit your passport.
It may take up to a week for you to get he Visa issued on your passport. Always plan ahead of your trip.
Now, here are few common doubts that arise when you planning your trip to Canada
- Is Visa necessary? Of course, there are many countries who are exempted from a visa to Canada. For example, our daughter is US national and it was pretty breezy entry for her to Canada. She just needed her passport and nothing else. Now that is because she is a minor and we drove to Canada. But travelers from a visa exempt countries need to apply for ETA (electronic travel document) if they arrive via plane.
- Can we apply for the tourist visa as a family? Yes, you can apply for the visa using a primary applicant and add the details of the additional family member.
- Should I mention my itinerary under the “purpose and length of stay”? The document checklist required a “purpose of travel” document which needs to be uploaded. I was first confused whether it is a letter or itinerary. And we ended preparing our itinerary for the trip which exact dates and places of visit. So think of it as a blueprint of your trip. This gives the officers an assurance that your stay is temporary and there are fixed dates of return.
- How long is the processing time? So it usually takes 10-14 days after the bio metrics is done. I would say altogether it might take a month for processing based on the circumstances (getting the biometrics appointment etc might take some time.)
- How long is the Canadian tourist visa valid for? The tourist visa for Canada is granted until the expiry of your passport.
Applying for Canada visitor visa is pretty easy as you can do it on your own comforts. It only takes time to gather all the documents and make sure you have them all up-to-date. The information provided above are from my experience and knowledge that I gathered during the application process.