How to apply for a tourist visa to Canada

Who needs a tourist visa to Canada

  • If you are a citizen of a non-visa exempt country, you will be required to have a visa to travel to Canada. Check the list of visa exempt countries on the Immigration Canada website
  • If you are from a visa-exempt country, you need to apply for an electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to travel to Canada
  • If you are a Permanent Resident of Canada you do not need a visa to come back to Canada

How to submit the application

  • Download and to complete the immigration forms
  • Create an online portal (aka MyCIC) where you will be uploading your forms and your documents
  • Collect all the mandatory documents as listed on the document’s checklist (make sure your country doesn’t have an additional checklist!!!)
  • Pay the fees and Submit your application

Am I eligible to receive the visa?

  • Almost anyone is eligible to apply for visa to Canada, unless
    • You have a criminal record/past and could be inadmissible to Canada
    • You had immigration problems  in any other country, including Canada 
    • You asked for refugee status in Canada, lost your refugee claim and were deported
    • You were found inadmissible to Canada in the past and the inadmissibility has not been removed
  • Assuming none of the cases above apply to you there is no reason why you should not be eligible for a visa to Canada

Is there an application guide?

Yes, IRCC has put together a detailed guide on what goes into this visa application and how an immigration officer makes their decision on your application

Can I do it myself?

Yes, most of the temporary resident visa applications could be done on your own.

However, you might want to consider legal help in the following situations (this is not the complete list):

  • You have a very limited travel history, or if your travel history is mostly to the nearby countries
  • You are unemployed or just recently secured your job
  • You are not well established in your country, whether you were born there or moved there
  • You do not have a bank account, or your bank account is inactive, or holds little funds
  • You have close relatives in Canada
  • You are coming from a country with weak economy, problematic security situation, or that is in an international conflict
  • You have an active Express Entry profile (aka “dual intent”)
  • You have been previously refused a visa to Canada or any other country

How can lawyers help?

  • A lawyer should be able to help you to identify the “weak” points in your application and detail how to address them. Usually, this includes
    • Working in detail with you on your Motivational/Purpose letter
    • Advising what documents (in addition to the mandatory ones) could strengthen your application
    • Submitting a legal submissions cover letter that would guide the officer through your application to show
  • A good application should be always “appeal proof”. This way, if the application is refused you will have a stronger case for the Court

(The above should not be treated as legal advice)

Still unsure? We can help you make sense of your situation and suggest what you might need to do next.