Canada visa

What is an Canada Visa?

A Canada Visa serves as an official authorization granted by the Canadian government that allows individuals to enter the country for various purposes. Due to its robust economy, thriving cities, and beautiful natural landscape, Canada is a popular destination for tourists, students, businesspersons, and other travelers.

Many nationalities can travel to Canada without obtaining a visa in advance. Some are only obliged to obtain a Canada eTA (electronic travel authorization). All other nationalities, however, must acquire a Canada visa before arriving at the port of entry. The application process can primarily begin online, but specific circumstances may require additional steps such as biometric submission at Visa Application Centers (VACs) and potentially attending interviews.

Fortunately, Canada offers many visa types for travelers to select from. Each visa type differs by validity period, purpose of travel, and duration of stay. When applying, individuals should carefully consider their travel purpose to select the most appropriate visa category. This ensures that the chosen visa aligns accurately with their plans.

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Types of Canada Visas

Canada offers four categories of visas, each with its own sub-types. The following are the visa categories and types that eligible applicants can select from:

Visitors Visas

Also known as Temporary Resident Visas (TRVs), this category of visas is reserved for visitors coming to Canada to pursue non-lucrative activities such as tourism. The duration of stay can extend up to six (6) months as determined by the immigration officers at the port of entry.

The following are the available types of Canada Visitor Visas:

  • Super Visa
  • Diplomatic or Official Visa
  • Visa for the Purpose of Giving Birth
  • Facilitation Visa
  • Canada Visa for Intending Organ Donors

Learn more about Canada Tourist visa >>

Immigrant Visas

For those looking to relocate to Canada as an immigrant, there are several types of immigrant visas. Each visa type has its own guidelines and requirements, so applicants should double-check this information before applying

The following are the active Canada Immigrant Visa types:

  • Express Entry Visa
  • Business Immigration Visa
  • Family Sponsorship Visa
  • Atlantic Immigration Program
  • Caregiver Visa
  • Start-Up Visa
  • Self-Employed Visa
  • Refugee Visa
  • Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot
  • Agri-Food Pilot
  • Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot
  • Provincial Nominees

Working Visas

Nearly all foreign nationals must obtain one of the Working Visa types to be employed in Canada. There are both employer-specific work visas available, as well as open work permits that are not tied to one specific employer or enterprise. Canada also offers work visa types for specific industries and skills.

Student Visas

All foreign nationals who are traveling to Canada to study at accredited schools or universities, also known as designated learning institutions (DLIs), must obtain a study permit. The study permit is NOT a visa, and some students will also be required to obtain a Visitor Visa or eTA. The relevant visa will usually be issued alongside the study permit.

Applying for an Canada Visa (Application Steps)

While the application process will vary depending on the visa type and the applicant’s nationality, the following are the basic steps that applicants can take to submit their Canada visa:

Applicants must ensure they choose the appropriate visa category and visa type for their travel purposes

Applicants must ensure they provide all the required documents for their visa type as per the official guidelines.

All applicants, provided they do not file their application at a VAC, can apply for their Canada visa online by creating an account and following the basic steps for uploading documents. 

Visa fees can be paid online using a valid credit or debit card. In some cases, applicants may opt to file their application and pay the fees at a VAC.

All applicants must visit the nearest VAC to complete their biometrics, including fingerprints and a photograph, and file their application if they did not do so online.

The Canada visa application will be processed by Government of Canada officials. If approved, a request for the applicant’s passport will be sent.

Instructions will be sent to the applicant explaining how to send their passport. Once received, the sticker visa will be stuck inside on a blank visa page and returned to the applicant.

**Additional documents may be required for certain nationalities or visa types to be provided at the port of entry in Canada. Applicants must carefully follow the official instructions for their visa type.

Canada Visa Requirements

To apply for a Canada visa, all applicants must submit the required documents as listed according to their visa type. However, there are several documents that are required for all visa types.

The following are the basic requirements for all Canada visa types:

A valid passport

Passports, or travel documents, should be valid and contain blank pages for official use. A photocopy of the bio-data page of the passport, containing all identification information and the applicant’s photo, may be required in some cases.

A complete application form

Applicants will find the visa application forms online on the Government of Canada website. The online forms must completed accurately with all relevant travel and contact details.

Biometric data (if applicable)

Most Canada visa applications require the applicant to provide biometric data including a photograph and fingerprints. In many cases, this can be done at a Visa Application Center (VAC).

Payment of visa fees

Most applicants will pay their fees online through the official Government of Canada portal using a valid credit or debit card. In some cases, applicants can opt to pay their fees at the VAC when filing their application.

Additional documents will be required depending on the visa type and the applicant’s nationality. These documents might include a birth certificate, an employment contract, proof of acceptance into a study program, or proof of financial subsistence, among others.

Where to Apply

The location and method of submission for a Canada visa will vary depending on the visa type and the applicant’s nationality. Nearly all Canada visa applications can be initiated online at the official Government of Canada website. In some cases, however, applicants may be required to visit an Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) office or Visa Application Center (VAC) to complete the application process. Providing biometric data, including fingerprints and a photograph, is typically completed at the nearest VAC.

Visa Processing Time

The processing time for a Canada visa will depend on the visa type, the intended duration of stay in the country, the applicant’s nationality, the number of entries, and other factors. Processing times can vary from several weeks to several months depending on the unique complexities of the application.


A Canada visa is a travel document that must be obtained by certain nationalities prior to traveling to Canada. The Government of Canada offers a variety of visa types, each with its own unique requirements and provisions.

The cost of a Canada visa will vary depending on the visa category and type. Fees can range from 100 to over 500 CAD. These fees do not include the cost of providing biometric data. Fees can usually be paid online or at the nearest VAC.

The estimated processing time for a Canada visa depends on the complexity of the application, the visa type, the applicant’s nationality, and other factors. Applicants must ensure they have plenty of time to submit and receive a decision on their visa application before confirming their travel plans to Canada.

Canada visa applications can almost always be initiated and submitted online. In some cases, you may be required to visit an Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) office or Visa Application Center (VAC) to complete your application process.