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Canada Tourist Visa: Online Visa Application and Document Requirements

Written By: Kavi Varma
Fact Checked By: Richard Nathan

Jan 14, 2022

21 min read

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I have dreamed of visiting a beautiful country known as Canada for a long time. Not so long ago, my dream finally came true. I had the opportunity to visit Canada with my best friends. But, unfortunately, my passport does not allow me to enjoy visa-free travel to Canada.

You see, because I'm an Indian citizen, I need to apply for a visa to enter Canada, specifically the Canada Tourist Visa, also known as the Canada Visitors Visa.

To my surprise, the visa application process was much more complicated than I expected. The application process is done online, and there are so many steps to follow. To be honest, at times, I got overwhelmed with the number of things I had to do. However, I noticed that the process isn't that complicated if you actually know what to do.

For this reason, I have decided to share my Canada Visa application with you (the reader). I'll guide you through the entire process and add relevant screenshots you can use to reference when applying for your own Canada Visa.

In this post, you'll find:

  • General Visa Information About The Canada Tourist Visa

General Visa Information About The Canada Tourist Visa

Before I walk you through the process of getting your next Canada Tourist Visa, I'll briefly talk about the general visa information you need to consider. These will include information in regards to:

What Is The Canada Tourist Visa?

The Canada Tourist Visa, also known as a Canadian visitor visa or temporary resident visa (TRV), allows you to enter Canada for tourism. Typically, your Canada Tourist Visa will be attached to your passport (or valid travel document.) This document states that you meet the minimum requirements to legally enter Canada.

Who Is Eligible For A Canada Tourist Visa?

Before starting your visa application, you'll need to check if you are eligible for a Canada Visa. When you click the link, it will redirect you to the Canadian Government's official webpage. Here you'll be asked a few questions regarding COVID-19, your nationality, and the purpose of your intended trip.

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Once you've completed the short questionnaire, you'll receive a message that looks something like this:

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This message indicates that you're eligible to apply for a Canada Visa. However, it's worth mentioning that this does not guarantee a successful visa application.

Keep in mind that border authorities at Canada's port of entry always have the right to deny you entry into Canada (even if you've got a Canada Visa).

What Types Of Canada Visas Are Available For Tourism

If you're eligible for a Canada Visa, you'll need to check what type of visa you'll need (found on the government of Canada's official website). The type of visa you need depends on your nationality and the purpose of your trip. In the case of tourism, the entry visa most people will need is the Canada Visitors Visa/Tourist Visa or the Canadian Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA).

  • For US Citizens

If you're a US Citizen, you don't need to apply for any type of visa to enter Canada. As long as you meet the basic requirements, you may enter Canada with a valid US passport for up to 6 months.

  • For US Green Card Holders

If you're a US Green Card Holder, you don't have to apply for a Canada Tourist Visa. However, you'll need to apply for the Canadian ETA, which will grant you entry to Canada for up to 6 months.

If You're Don't Fall Under One Of The Categories Mentioned Above (like me)

I'll quickly walk you through determining what type of visa you need when you plan to visit Canada. Similar to the eligibility check, you'll need to answer a few questions that will determine the type of Canada Visa you need. Once you click the provided link, you'll be redirected to the following page:

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Here, you're required to answer a few questions surrounding your nationality/home country and the purpose of your trip. After answering all the questions, you'll be redirected to a new page that tells you what Canada Visa you need.

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Important Note: For the purpose of this post, ** I only discuss the Canada Visitor Visa** and the process surrounding this type of visa.

What Is The Processing Time For The Canada Tourist Visa?

The processing time for your Canada Tourist Visa can take between 1 - 2 months. However, keep in mind that it might take longer in some cases. For example, the processing time of your Canada Visa can be delayed by:

For these reasons I've mentioned above, I highly recommend that you start your visa application at least 3 months before you intend to depart for Canada.

What Are The Canada Tourist Visa Fees?

For your Canada Tourist Visa, or Visitors Visa, you can expect to pay the following amounts:

  • Canada Visa application fee - $78.18 USD or $100 CAD

  • Biometric fee - $66.45 USD or $85 CAD

These are the fees I paid when I first applied for my Canada Visa. Keep in mind that fees are subject to change and may not be the same for you. Also, at the end of the visa application process, you'll need to submit your passport via post. To do this, you'll need to purchase the appropriate shipping labels, which cost around $90.

How To Apply For Your Canada Tourist Visa

Ok, now you know the basics about the Canada Tourist Visa. Now you need to understand the process of applying for your visa. The application process might seem a bit difficult at first. Still, if you follow my guide, you should complete it easily.

I'll divide the How-To process into steps and add additional screenshots for your convenience. Be sure to bookmark this page to quickly return to it when you start your own application process.

In this How-To section, you'll find the following information:

First, we'll look at the Canada Tourist Visa Online Application Form. Phew what a mouth full...

Quick note: I recommend using the clickable links above to navigate this section. The online application process can take a while, and there are a lot of complicated steps you need to take. Therefore, I'll be providing an extremely detailed guide you can follow. Also, I'll add multiple screenshots for your convenience.

Step 1 - Complete The Canada Tourist Visa Application Form

For the Canada Visitors Visa, you'll need to start your application online. As soon as you click the link, you'll be redirected to the official government page.

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Here you must select Option 1: GCKey. After selecting Option 1: GCKey, you'll see the following:

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You'll need to sign up and create an account before starting the application. The sign-up process is pretty straightforward, but I'll list what you can expect:

  • Accept the terms and conditions

  • Create your username, which must be between 8 - 16 characters.

  • Create a unique password

  • Finally, you'll need to create your recovery questions, answers, and hints. Ensure that you remember the answers you enter. You may need to give the same answers later in the application process (for security purposes).

Important Note and Tip: When I applied for my Canada Visa, I struggled to log into my account. The government page kept redirecting me to another page that had nothing to do with my application. After a lot of frustration, I finally found a work-around to this problem. All you need to do is go to your browser settings and clear your search history and return to the page. After doing this, the page should work correctly, and you'll be able to log in.

After logging in to your account, you're again required to accept the Terms and Conditions. After doing this, you'll start creating your account. For this part, expect to see the following page:

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After creating an account, you'll need to set up your own security questions. This can be anything you like. I used my favorite animal, food, drink, and so on.

After setting up your security questions and answers, you can click continue. Next, you'll see this page:

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At first, this might look very confusing. However, don't worry too much about everything you see. The important part is finding the title that says "Start an Application". Once here, select "Apply to come to Canada".

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Now, you'll find a new page that asks you to enter your "personal reference code." In most cases, you don't have this. Not to worry, all you need to do is scroll a bit down and select "Visitors visa, study and/or work permit" under the heading "I do not have a personal reference code"

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Next, you'll need to determine if you're eligible for the Canada Tourist Visa you're applying for. You can expect the following questions:

  • What would you like to do in Canada? (Select visit.)

  • How long are you planning to stay in Canada? (Select duration. For me, it was less than 6 months)

  • Select the code that matches your passport. (For example IND for India)

  • What is your current country/territory of residence? If you are presently in Canada, you should select Canada.

  • Do you have a family member who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and is 18 years or older? (If you select yes, you'll need to provide relevant information like name, surname, and so on)

  • What is your date of birth?

  • Have you lived in Canada as a permanent resident or landed immigrant? (Yes/No)

  • Are you a lawful permanent resident of the United States with a valid U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) number? (If yes, you must provide relevant information.)

  • What is your marital status?

  • What is your province of destination? If visiting multiple provinces, select the one where you will be spending most of your time.

Finally, after completing all these questions, you'll be informed about the type of visa you need to apply for.

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Next, you'll be asked more questions. However, the answers you provide will determine the required documents you'll need to submit for your visa application. I'll add screenshots that you can reference for the questions asked.

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After answering all the questions, you'll have the option to review and edit any questions. So, if you see you made a mistake or add incorrect information, ensure that you correct those mistakes. Remember, a faulty application form could lead to your visa being denied.

Finally, you can select continue and proceed with your visa application. Once you click continue, you'll be greeted by a new page, which provides some general information for the next step of your application.

Step 2 - The Required Documents For Your Canada Tourist Visa

As I previously mentioned, the answers you gave during the first step will determine the documents you'll need to submit for your application. The government website creates a nice and neat checklist for you. Then, all you need to do is upload the documents from that checklist. For example, for my visa application, I had to submit the following documents:

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These documents included:

To fill out the application form, you'll need to click on the link and download the form. When you open the link, you'll see a document page that says "Please wait".

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From here, you'll need to download the document to your device and download adobe reader afterward.

After downloading the adobe reader, you can open the downloaded application form within Adobe Reader. This is where you need to fill out your application.

While filling out your application form, ensure that the information you provide is correct, accurate, and the same as the information you previously used. You won't be able to submit your visa application form if the information you provide on the form differs from the info you provided during the account creation process.

After completing the form, you'll find a "Validate" button on the bottom of the form. As soon as you click the button, your information will be checked and validated.

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It's worth mentioning that if you make a mistake, you can always edit the information you provided. Nevertheless, if you edit any fields, you'll need to validate your application again.

Quick note: Remember to print out your application form and sign the last page. Keep your application form with you at all times. The Canadian Embassy/Canadian Consulate may require it from you in the future (not always the case).

When your application form has been validated, unique barcodes will be generated. These barcodes will be scanned by authorities/officials during the review process.

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Next, you need to save your form. You can now go back to the website and upload your application. Note that you might notice the "please wait" document (as previously mentioned). Don't worry. The Embassy won't see this document. Instead, they will receive the application you just completed.

Quick note: If the information on the application doesn't match the information you provided in the previous questionnaire, you won't be able to upload your application form. Luckily, the website will tell you what information doesn't match. In this case, you'll need to go back to your application, edit the information, save, and upload again.

  • 2. A Valid Passport

You'll need to upload a copy of your valid passport. When uploading your passport, it must show your date of birth, country of origin, and any pages with previous visas/stamps/markings.

  • 3. Proof Of Sufficient Funds

When visiting Canada, you must prove that you have the financial means to support yourself during your visit. The exact required amount is not specified. Nonetheless, expect to have around $2000 CAD for every 30 days you plan to stay. Documents you can submit to prove you have sufficient funds include recent bank statements, pay stubs, an employment letter, and so on.

  • 4. A Digital Photo

Your photo must be in color. Ensure that you're centred, and the image captures a full front view of the head and the tops of the shoulders.

  • 5. Purpose of Travel

When applying for your Canada Tourist Visa, you'll need to enter the purpose of your planned trip. Also, you'll need to provide documents that support the reason for your trip. These documents can include a flight ticket, accommodation, and a travel itinerary.

Like the application form, you'll need to download the family information form and complete it through adobe reader. The form is pretty straightforward to fill out and mainly asks for family details like name, surname, and date of birth. After filling out the form, save it, and upload it.

You now know about the required supporting documents for your visa application form. After uploading your documents, you'll notice another title that says "Optional Documents".

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These documents are only optional. Therefore you don't need to upload these if you don't want to. If you don't upload these documents, it doesn't mean your application will be rejected. Your application can still be successful.

You're almost finished with the application process! Just a quick note - the required documents depend on the information you provided during the initial account creation process. Meaning, the documents you need to submit might look different from the documents I had to submit.

Step 3 - Pay The Canada Tourist Visa Application Fee

After completing steps 1 and 2, you need to pay the visa application fee. Once you click next, you'll be redirected to a new page. Here you'll find details regarding the documents you've submitted and the payments you need to make.

Before you can make a payment, you'll need to agree to the terms, provide your signature (in the form of your name and surname), and answer a security question.

Quick note: During the payment part of the application, you won't be able to make any edits to your visa application.

After signing the form, you'll be redirected to the card payment page. There, you must select the payment method of your choice and enter your payment details.

    You'll receive a payment confirmation via email when you've paid the visa fee. Furthermore, you can return to the official government web page, sign back in, and click "full application status" to check your status from there. However, it's recommended that you regularly check your emails for confirmation from the Embassy.

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Once you navigate to your application status, you should scroll down to the bottom of the page. There you'll find a heading that says "Message about your application." Under this heading, you'll find clickable links. So the first 2 notifications you should receive is:

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  • Confirmation of Online Application Transmission

This is a confirmation letter that you receive from the Embassy that confirms you've made a payment for your Canada Tourist Visa application. Here you also find your payment receipt number.

  • Submission Confirmation

On the same date you received the "Confirmation of Online Application Transmission", you'll also receive a submission confirmation. The submission confirmation is basically a message from the Embassy that says they have received your visa application. Within this document/message, you can also find your visa application number (For me, this was a letter and 9 digits). Furthermore, you'll find other relevant information about your visa application, like the processing time.

Step 3 - Schedule Your Biometrics Appointment

When you apply for your Canada Tourist Visa, one visa requirement is to have your biometric information collected by the Embassy. You'll be notified about your biometrics information in 2 - 5 business days (after receiving your submission confirmation).

When you receive your biometrics instruction letter you scroll down, and you should see something like this:

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Please take note of your IRCC number, as shown above.

Once you receive this message, you have 30 days to schedule your biometrics appointment at the Visa Centre of your choice. Here's how to schedule your appointment:

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  • Select make an appointment, and enter your zip code.

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  • As soon as you enter a zip code, you'll see the visa office closest to you. Note down the Embassy/Visa Application Centre address and select "see available appointments appointment."

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  • Here, you'll see all the available appointments. Please note down the date of the appointment.
  • After selecting an appointment date and time, you'll be redirected to a new page where you must enter your IRCC number.

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  • You have then successfully scheduled your appointment.

Quick note: It's worth mentioning that there aren't a lot of appointment slots available. This means you may only get an appointment 15 - 20 days from the day you schedule your appointment. Therefore, I highly recommend you schedule your appointment immediately after getting your biometrics letter. Don't wait! Remember, you only have 30 days to submit your biometrics information.

Step 4 - Attend Your Biometrics Appointment

You now need to travel to attend your biometrics appointment. Ensure that you bring along your Biometrics Instruction letter. Your unique barcode will be scanned, and your biometric information will be collected. Usually, this includes a digital photo and your fingerprints.

After attending your appointment, you'll receive another confirmation notification that indicates the Embassy or center has received your biometrics. This is called the Correspondence Letter

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Step 5 - Submit Your Original Passport

After a few days (usually 5 - 10 business days), you'll receive another notification that says "Original Passport Request." If you receive this letter/confirmation, you can assume that your visa application is successful. After that, you're required to submit your passport for your new visa.

Things to remember about your passport:

  • It must be in good condition

  • It must not be close to it's expiry date

  • It must have at least 1 visa page available for your visa

As soon as you receive this letter, you only have 30 days to submit your passport.

To submit your passport, you'll need to send it via mail. For this, you'll need to obtain the correct shipping labels. Next, I'll explain how you can get your shipping labels.

Step 6 - Get Your Shipping Labels

Unfortunately, you can't get shipping labels from anywhere. The shipping labels you require are very specific and can only be requested at VFS. Here's how you can get it:

1. First, you need to email VFS and request the shipping labels.

2. VFS will provide an excel template you need to fill out.

3. Once you fill out the excel template - VFS will send an invoice within 3 business days. Please be aware that VFS may take longer to send the invoice and the labels (I waited 15 days). Since I only had 30 days, the label part took almost 15 days to get.

4. You'll need to pay the appropriate fee for your shipping labels. VFS typically charges around $90 for this service. However, this amount is subject to change.

Once you receive your shipping labels, you can attach them to your parcel (including your passport) and send them to the appropriate address. The specific address is the one you noted down during step 3.

Congratulations! You're finally finished with the Canada Tourist Visa application process. After that, all you need to do is wait for your passport to be returned to you. Afterward, you can travel to Canada and enjoy your next exciting trip.

My Biggest Tip For Your Canada Tourist Visa

My biggest tip is to constantly check your notification centre on the official website. This is where you'll find all the essential information about your visa application. Also, each notification/letter will give you clear instructions on what to do next. Furthermore, I recommend that you regularly check your emails too. Usually, you'll receive updates about your visa application via email.

That's about it. Good luck with your next Canada Visa application.

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