How Long Does It Take to Get a Visa for Canada?

How Long Does It Take to Get a Visa for Canada?
How Long Does It Take to Get a Visa for Canada?
The time you'll wait to get a visa for Canada depends on where you live and your reason for visiting the world's second largest country.
The Canadian government allows residents of 23 countries to visit without a visa, although they will need other travel documents. Residents of other countries must apply to the official visa office in their country's Canadian embassy, high commission or consulate for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV). The countries are listed on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website.
Temporary Resident Visas

There are three main visas for Canada: Temporary Resident Visa, Study Permit and Work Permit.
The TRV, normally issued for six months, is for either a Single Entry or Multiple Entry. TRVs cannot be extended.
More than half of Canadian TRV applications were processed within two days in 2008 and almost 100 percent were complete in 28 days.
Sometimes a medical examination is required, which can add three months to the waiting time.
A police background check could be required, also adding time to a wait.
The requirements for TRVs vary with each country. Local visa offices have these requirements with their applications. Their addresses can be found at the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website.

Study Permits

With an acceptance letter from a Canadian school, students can apply at the CIC website for a study permit.
If they are from a non-exempt country, they will also need a TRV to enter Canada and can apply for both at their local visa office.
Although 15 percent will have their study permit processed in two days, it could take more than a month for 35 percent of applicants.
Student visa applications average two months at the Vegreville Case Processing Centre in Alberta.
If a student wishes to study in Quebec, he must obtain permission from the Government of Quebec (available online).

Work Permits

Most of the 90,000 temporary foreign workers need a work permit.
Vegreville CPC takes three weeks to process a work permit if the worker has not worked for the employer before, and 11 weeks for a permit for the same employer.
The average time to process work permits in foreign countries averages just over 15 percent in two days. However, better than 40 percent of applicants waited more than a month.


The visa application fee is nonrefundable. Make sure you have all the required documents, including the fee payment in Canadian or equivalent dollars. And sign the application before submitting it to your visa office.
Register your application, track its progress and keep the delivery confirmation information handy.
If your information changes, notify your visa office immediately.
You can track your application's progress on the CIC site.


Travelers to Canada should be alert for Internet and other scams that guarantee visas or promise high-paying jobs.
The Government of Canada has a fixed-fee system for visa applications that is published on their official CIC website in Canadian dollars. No other fees are charged.
While there are legitimate immigration consultants, it is not necessary to hire one to apply for a Canadian visa.

Toni Owen started writing in 1975. Owen is a journalist published in "Newsweek" and the "San Francisco Chronicle." She was an editor in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Banff, Alberta. Owen has a master's degree in English education and won the national C. Everett Koop Award.
TS Owen/Photo

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