While most US citizens do not need a visa to enter Canada if they intend to stay for less than six months, anyone who is not a US citizen is expected to obtain a visa as long as they are from a country that is not visa-exempt. A Canadian visa is a stamp on your passport that shows you have permission to enter Canada.

It is more or less permission granted to travel to Canada and legally stay either temporarily or permanently. According to reports, people from around 148 countries need a visa to visit, work, or immigrate to Canada.

Obtaining a visa to Canada means that the Canadian Consulate or Embassy concurs that you are eligible and that you meet all the criteria for entry into Canada. However, once you are at the Canadian border and customs, the officers at the border are tasked with evaluating whether you are eligible to enter.

Although most people seeking to apply for visas in Canada are advised to apply from their home country, if you are legally admitted to the United States, you can apply at your nearest visa application center (VAC). Have it in mind that the VAC can help ensure your application is complete and that all proper documentation is included.

The type of Canadian visa you need to apply for will vary based on the aim and length of your stay. For instance, if you intend to go to Canada as a visitor, you would need a Temporary Visitor Visa. If you plan to study in Canada, then you would need a Student Visa.

Steps to Apply for Canadian Visa from the US Even When You are Not a Citizen

Note that the steps necessary to apply for a Canadian visa from the US when you are not a citizen will most often depend on the visa type. However, to apply for a Canada visa, you will have to go through these steps;

  1. Choose the right visa

When applying for a Canadian visa, the first step is to understand the exact type of visa you need and verify that you’re eligible to apply for it. It is also necessary that you note the documents you need to submit along with your application, how long the application might take, and the necessary fees you will have to pay. Consider visiting the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) website for detailed guidelines.

  1. Begin your visa application

Note that you can download the visa application form, fill it in, print the completed form, and submit it yourself at the Visa Application Centre. You can also choose to fill out and submit your online application directly to Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Howbeit, the completed form (including the barcoded sheets) is expected to be printed on a white, bond quality, non-glossy paper, using a laser printer. Additionally, ensure that the 2D barcode (2 copies) is printed clearly on high-quality paper, and note that hand-written forms are not always accepted.

You will also have to fill and complete supporting documents as per the IRCC document checklist. If you cannot make available all the supporting documents as mentioned in the official IRCC document checklist, you’ll have to fill out the waiver form, sign it and attach it with your application form.

  1. Select a Visa Application Centre and make an appointment

After you must have applied for your visa, you will need to book an appointment to get your fingerprints and photo captured at a Visa Application Centre. This is more commonly referred to as biometric information. After booking this appointment, you will get an appointment confirmation email coupled with the letter of appointment.

For families or groups, note that you are expected to book individual appointments for each member. If you are not required to submit your biometric information, then there won’t be any need to make an appointment or visit your local Canada Visa Application Centre.

Just visit the Visa Application Centre at your time with your passport, photographs, completed forms, the Government of Canada Fee, and every other document noted on the IRCC document checklist.

  1. Pay your fees

After you must have completed your application, the next step is to pay your visa application fee. If you intend to download the form to print and come with it to the Visa Application Centre, you are allowed to make payment at the time of your appointment. In addition, you will also be expected to pay the Government of Canada Fee and biometric fee (if required) as per instructions on the IRCC website.

  1. Attend your scheduled appointment

If you have not submitted your application online, note that you can still submit your complete visa application form at the Visa Application Centre in person. If you are not mandated to submit biometrics, ensure you visit the Visa Application Centre during business hours. But if you need to submit your biometric, your application and biometrics (if applicable) will be captured once you visit a Canada Visa Application Centre.

At this point, you will also have to pay the applicable Visa Application Centre service charges and obtain a receipt. This receipt will contain your unique tracking number, and this will be useful when looking to track the progress of your application online.

  1. Track your application

Most often, you will get an email update when your decision has been returned to the Visa Application Centre. If you can’t access your email or would want to get more detailed tracking information, you can choose to get updates via SMS sent directly to your phone. Ensure to verify if this service is available at the Visa Application Centre you are visiting.

  1. Collect your passport

Once a visa application decision has been reached, have it in mind that you can pick up your documents from the Visa Application Centre or have your documents returned to you by courier for an extra fee. To collect the decision envelope in person at the Visa Application Centre, you will be expected to come with the following:

  • A copy of the stamped biographic page of your passport
  • The original Visa Application Centre Services Receipt issued by the Visa Application Centre
  • A form of government identification

Also, note that you can also ask someone or an agent to collect this decision envelope at the Visa Application Centre on your behalf. This delegate will be expected to provide the following:

  • The signed Visa Application Centre services consent form with the delegate’s name and relationship to the applicant
  • A copy of the stamped biographic page of the applicant’s passport
  • The original Visa Application Centre Services Receipt issued by the Visa Application Centre
  • A form of the delegate’s government identification


Just as it was noted above, anyone who is not a US citizen is expected to obtain a visa as long as they are nationals from a country that is not visa-exempt. When you get your visa, you need to check the details of the visa issued to validate that it is valid for the date of proposed entry to Canada, the number of entries wanted, and the objective of the trip.

You should check these details immediately after collecting your decision envelope. Don’t forget that the validity period and the number of entries are most often decided by the Visa Office and may vary from what was requested in your application.