As I originally intended to visit Canada to attend my cousin’s wedding, I went to apply for a Canadian visa (officially called a temporary resident visa if you’re entering as a tourist) some months back. I recall my past experience in applying for a Canada visa – that was some 10 years back – and my experience then was unique for it was the only developed country visa application that did not require me to personally appear at the embassy or consulate. Canada’s visa policy was already progressive back then in 2005 and I was relieved to find that over the past few years, they pushed the button further where visa applications are concerned. They now allow applicants to submit entire applications online, saving one a long commute to the post office just to submit documentary requirements for visa applications!
If you’re a Filipino applying for a Canada visa in the Philippines, you have the option to submit your application through hard copy by post or online via Canada’s centralized MyCIC website. I went with the latter option.
If you do choose to submit your application online, you should be able to photograph or scan your documents. An application that is able to merge PDF files is helpful. Alternatively, you can also put photos under a single MSWord file.
These were the documents required from me for the online application:
IMM5257E – the application form which needs to be filled out electronically as well. There is no need to sign this document by hand. Electronic signatures are used here which means to say that you just type your name electronically on the signature box.
IMM5645E – Family information. It’s a bit tedous especially if you have a large family but quite straightforward. Essentially, you are required to list down the names, ages, addresses and occupations of your parents, spouse (if applicable), siblings and children. It was quite easy for me to do as I have a small family.
Passport-sized photo that is at least 600dpi. Scanned.
Passport, a scanned copy of it
Purpose of Travel – the applicant has the option here to present any or a combination of the following: plane ticket, itinerary or an invitation letter from a contact in Canada. I did neither and just put in a cover letter explaining why and when I intended to visit Canada.
Proof of Financial Support – I submitted a screenshot of my online banking statement as well as my employment certificate. The employment certificate shows my duration of employment with the company, job title and salary.
Travel History – For this requirement, I scanned some of my more notable visas such as the US, Japan, Schengen and New Zealand visas plus my past Canadian visa
Optional documents – I didn’t include any
Visa Fees – The standard visa fee when applying online is 100 Canadian Dollars.
Timeline of Application
April 9 – submission of application online and payment of visa fee
Between April 9 to 14 – I keep getting email updates regarding my application but when I checked in the MyCIC website, there was nothing. I am not sure if this is a technical issue. I suppose there is no way around this except to keep checking whenever these updates are sent
April 14 – my online application was updated with a passport submission request
April 17 – I shipped my passport and submission request letter to VFS Canada in their Makati address via LBC and enclosed the manager’s cheque for passport transmission. For more information of their fees and on their mailing address, you can refer to their website here: http://www.vfsglobal.ca/canada/Philippines/index.html
April 24 – I received my passport with visa! I was given a multiple entry visa valid until the expiry of my passport.
How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Approved (Personal Observations)
- The approving authority will be more confident in approving your visa if you are able to show evidence of trips overseas. So do include snapshots of visa / passport stamps in your application
- Unlike other countries, Canada doesn’t publish a minimum guideline on how much money you’d need for a trip there. As a rule of thumb, $100 to 150 per day should suffice so your bank account should at least have this multiplied by the intended duration of your trip. For instance, if you are looking to visit for 10 days, be prepared to show at least $1,500 in your bank account. If you don’t have a flight ticket booked yet, you need to factor in an extra $1,000 to $1,500 to the amount stated above
- If you have a contact in Canada, the better. Ask them to write an invitation letter for you or at least a letter assuring Canadian authorities that they know your character and are confident that you’ll return to your home country
- Be specific in expressing your intention to visit. If it is to go backpacking across Canada, try to include an itinerary. If it is to attend a wedding, attach a wedding invitation
Three Important Pillars in Getting a Canada Visa
Your current employment status is a key indicator on whether you’d be granted a Canada visa. The authorities will be more confident of approving your visa if you can show that you have a full-time job. If the job happens to be of a blue-collar nature, you may need to show a higher bank balance in order to be granted the visa.
#2: Bank Balance
How much money do you need to show in your bank account in order to be granted a Canadian visa? I mentioned previously that as a rule of thumb, you need to show at least $100 to $150 per day of your intended stay in Canada plus $1000 to $1500 more to factor the cost of the plane tickets. This is assuming the applicant holds a permanent white collar job and can show proof of it. For blue collar workers, the amount you need to show would have to be greater. There is no hard and fast rule but the equivalent of $10,000 bank balance should be enough. Try to avoid sudden huge deposits in your account. This is a red flag to the authorities that applicants are trying to stuff their accounts in order to meet the requirement.
#3: Travel History
If you can show that you have traveled to a number of countries prior to your Canadian visa application, your chances of getting the visa will be higher. Greater weight is placed on visits to other industralized countries such as USA, Japan, European countries, etc.