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Here's How To Apply For A Canadian Tourist Visa Online

Don't be intimidated, it's relatively easy!
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Editor's Note (January 27, 7:55 a.m.): The article previously stated that the fee for a Canadian tourist visa is 800 Canadian dollars. This has since been corrected to reflect the correct amount which is 100 Canadian dollars. 

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Processing visas can be daunting in the beginning. Filling out forms, collecting files from a long list of requirements, going through lines at the embassy—thinking about it can easily exhaust any tourist who just wants to go on vacation. For those planning to travel to Canada, it doesn’t help that the Great White North’s visa website for the Philippines isn’t the most user-friendly, with hyperlinks that lead to more complicated pages and lists.

But applying for that Canadian visa actually isn't as complex as it looks. There are three ways on how you can go about it—do the paperwork at the embassy in person, mail them, or simply apply online. Of course, digital is the way to go, which we’ll be tackling in this article.

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Canadian visa requirements

Before accessing the visa application website, it’s best to fill out and prepare all the necessary paperwork and requirements below:

  1. Valid passport - Check first if your passport is valid for one year and scan your bio-page.
  2. Accomplished IMM5257 form - You can find the Application for Visitor Visa Form here. The link works on Internet Explorer as well as the latest version of Adobe Reader, so make sure you download it.
  3. Accomplished Family Information form - Fill out the IMM5645E form and as with the previous number, it only works on Internet Explorer or the latest Adobe Reader version.
  4. Passport-sized digital photos - These white background pictures must adhere to all specifications listed here.
  5. Proof of income - This is where you’ll show that you have the funds for your trip as well as stable means of grounding you to the Philippines. Prepare some bank certificates within the past four months, certificates of employment, Income Tax Returns (ITR), proof of assets, business permits, etc. The more you can put out, the better. In case you’re not working and someone else will be paying for the trip, submit an affidavit of support along with your sponsor’s proof of financial capability.
  6. Travel history - Scan all your visas, exit and entry stamps, and old passports with valid visas. Place all of these documents in one file for convenience
  7. Purpose of travel - Show the embassy that you’ll only be traveling Canada temporarily. Include flight reservations, tour itineraries, hotel accommodations, etc.
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Starting your online application

Once you have all the requirements stated above, make sure you create soft copies of everything. The following kinds of files are accepted by the site: PDF, JPG, TIFF, PNG, DOC, DOCX.

  1. Make your own CIC Account (GCKey) - GCKey is basically an account that allows you to access the Canadian government’s online services, including, yes, getting that visa. There’s an easy step-by-step process of how to do it right here.
  2. Upload documents on the specified page - After you’ve successfully made your account and clicked on the “Start Your Application” button, you have to choose the “Visitor Visa” option before the site relocates you to the upload page. Once you’re here, make sure all the requirements are complete and upload them online. You cannot push through with the online application if even one file is missing. When you’re finished, place your full name as your electronic signature.
  3. Pay the necessary fees for the application - The visa fee is 100 Canadian dollars (around P3,800) while the biometrics fee is 85 dollars (P3,300). You may make your payment using a valid credit card under MasterCard, Visa, or American Express.
  4. Wait for your application number - Within the day, an email will be sent to you including your official application number as well as some instructions on how to process your biometrics.
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The new biometrics requirement

According to CIC’s website, biometrics (essentially your fingerprints and your photo) are officially required to be submitted if you are a visa-required visitor. This update was recently made on December 3, 2019. The final step to the whole visa process is to submit these to the embassy, so first off, you have to wait for your biometrics instructions letter (BIL) as mentioned in number 4. Then, set an appointment for your biometrics collection. An official appointment letter will be mailed to you including all the details of your appointment, plus the address of the Canada Visa Application Center (VAC). Head to the center in person to submit your biometrics as well as other documents asked from you.

Some reminders you could keep in mind while giving your biometrics are that your hands must be henna-free and injury-free, and that it’s best to wear bright, bold colors for the photo.

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The waiting game

Congratulations, you’re almost done! Now, all you’ve got to do is wait for the results. You can check the status of your application on your CIC/GCKey Account by simply clicking the “Check status and messages” button. Should your application be approved (yay!), you’ll be getting a message requesting for your passport. You can submit this in person at your nearest visa application center or you could mail it. Here are the addresses below:

Manila

Canada Visa Application Centre
29F The World Center
350 Senator Gil Puyat Avenue
Makati City, Philippines 

Cebu

Canada Visa Application Centre
VFS Services Phils. Pvt. Inc.
9F Keppel Center Unit 905 Samar Loop cor Cardinal Rosales Ave,
Cebu Business Park
Cebu City 6000
Philippines

You’ll be receiving your passport either via mail or through personal collection at your CVAC. And you’re pretty much set for your Canada adventure! Good luck and happy travels!