Visitor visa: After you apply

After you apply

Processing time ?

Varies by country

Check processing times

You may need to give biometrics with your application. This processing time doesn’t include the time you need to give biometrics.

On this page

This is what will happen after you apply for a visitor visa:

Your fingerprints and photo (biometrics)

COVID-19: Changes to biometrics requirement

Normally, you need to give biometrics if you haven’t given biometrics in the last 10 years. If your local visa application centre is not open due to COVID-19, there are temporary measures in place for biometrics.

Find out what to do for your biometrics

Processing your visitor visa application

COVID-19 – Impact on processing

We’re prioritizing applications from people who are exempt from COVID-19 travel restrictions.

We’ll check your application to make sure you have all the documents you need.

If it’s incomplete, we’ll return your application without processing it.

We may also ask you to

We’ll tell you what to do if you need to do any of these.

We process most applications in a few weeks or less. Processing times depend on the visa office and if you need to do any extra steps (listed above).

We’ll return your passport and other original documents to you after we process your application. We won’t return original bank statements or any documents we find to be fake.

If we approve your application

If you applied online

You’ll get 2 letters in your IRCC account:

  • our decision letter
  • a letter with instructions to submit your passport

This approval doesn’t mean you can travel to Canada. You need to wait until we put the visa in the passport you submit to us.

If you applied on paper

When your application is approved, any original documents, including your passport with the visa inside, will be returned to you.

If we refuse your application

If you applied online

You’ll get our decision in your IRCC account. This will explain why we refused your application.

If you applied on paper

An explanation of why your application was refused will be sent to you, along with any original documents, including your passport.

Before you travel to Canada – Documents you need

Before you travel to Canada

All travellers entering Canada must follow testing and quarantine requirements to keep everyone safe. Under certain conditions, you may be exempt from some of these requirements.

Find out if you’re exempt from any testing and quarantine requirements.

Submit your information to the ArriveCAN app

You must use ArriveCAN before checking in at the airport or crossing the border to submit your

  • travel and contact information
  • quarantine plan
  • COVID-19 symptom self-assessment

Bring your ArriveCAN receipt (electronic or paper) with you to show the border services officer upon arrival.

Proof that you’re eligible to travel to Canada

You must bring evidence that you meet the eligibility requirements to travel at this time, such as

  • a negative COVID-19 test result (taken within 72 hours of your departure)
  • the evidence you provided in your visa application
  • written authorization from IRCC (if you’re required to get it)
  • written authorization from the Public Health Agency of Canada (if you’re travelling for compassionate reasons)

If you can’t provide this information, you won’t be allowed to board your flight to Canada or enter at a Canadian land port of entry.

Consult the list of documents you need based on your situation.

Situations where you may need extra documents on arrival

If either of the following situations applies to you or someone you’ll travel with, have the documents indicated in hand.

You have a child under the age of 18 (a minor child)

In Canada, a child under the age of 18 is considered a minor.

You may need to show

  • a letter that authorizes the minor child to travel to Canada, and
  • other documents, such as adoption papers or a custody decree, depending on if the minor child travels alone or not

Find out more about minor children travelling to Canada

You were invited to come to Canada

If you got a letter from a person or company that invited you to Canada, bring that letter with you. A border services officer may ask to see it.

Find out more about letters of invitation

Your arrival in Canada

A valid visa and travel document don’t guarantee that you can enter Canada. You must also meet the current health requirements due to COVID-19.

We determine if you meet all entry requirements

When you arrive, we’ll check your identity to make sure that you’re the same person who was approved to travel to Canada. We’ll also ask to see your ArriveCAN receipt and quarantine plan.

  • We’ll assess your health before you leave the port of entry. If you’re a foreign national and you have symptoms of COVID-19, you won’t be allowed to enter Canada.
  • If you enter Canada at one of 4 major Canadian airports
    • Your fingerprints will be checked automatically at a primary inspection kiosk.
    • The system will check your identity against the information collected when your application was submitted.
  • If you enter Canada at a land port of entry
    • Your fingerprints may be checked if we refer you to a secondary inspection, where a border services officer will use a fingerprint verification device to check your fingerprints.

You enter Canada

If you pass the identity check, health assessment, and meet the entry requirements, the border services officer may stamp your passport or let you know how long you can stay in Canada. You’re normally allowed to stay in Canada for up to 6 months.

In some cases, the officer may limit or extend your time in Canada, depending on the purpose of your visit. Ask questions if you’re not sure about something.

You won’t be allowed into Canada if you give false or incomplete information. The officer must be convinced that

  • you’re eligible for entry into Canada
  • you’ll leave Canada at the end of your approved length of stay
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