Getting Canada Visitor Visa (via Online Application)

While it was a breeze to create an account and generate a GCKey on the website (that is the first step), we did face a lot of confusion while collecting the documents we had to submit as part of the process. The website is not always explicit in stating the documents they expect from us, such as for a category called “Purpose of Travel”. We did not want our visa application to get rejected just because we missed submitting something.

The fact that the Government of Canada has changed their process, especially for applying for a visa online, makes some of the help information available on various forums outdated. After referring to various sources on the net and consulting friends and submitting the information, we did finally get our visa.

This post summarizes what we did in case you find yourself in a similar situation:

  • We applied for the visitor visa Online (You need to be eligible to apply for the visa online. The website asks some questions to check for your eligibility)
  • Country of residence at the time of applying for the Canadian visitor visa = USA
  • Country of citizenship = India
  • We were not eligible for eTA

It takes around 10-15 calendar days to get a response on your application status (rejected or approved) and another 10-15 calendar days to get back your passports with the visa. So plan and work on the process accordingly.



  • IMM5257E: Application for Visitor Visa (Temporary Resident Visa) Made Outside of Canada
    • Most of the fields are self-explanatory
    • Under Details of Visit to Canada: We selected Tourism, specified a period of 15-day stay, and mentioned the name and address of a hotel in Vancouver


  • Travel History: We created a single PDF file containing scans of the following documents:
    • Current passport with all travel stamps and visas
    • I797 (extension of work permit)
    • Previous passport with all pages (to include travel history of last five years)
    • Latest I94 travel record
  • Passport: Current passport PDF with scans of first, last, and visa pages
  • IMM5713E: Use of a Family Member Representative for Online Applications
    • Filled in –> printed –> signed –> scanned –> created a PDF
  • Proof of Means of Financial Support: We created a single PDF file containing scans of the following documents:
    • W2
    • Letter from employer with salary and duration of employment
    • Bank statements for last 3 months
    • Paychecks for last 3 months
  • Marriage License/Certificate: scan PDF of the marriage certificate
  • Digital Photo: Canadian photo requirements for visa and passport are very specific and only select photo studios are experienced in complying with the specifications. We got ours done at PostNet (773 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, C 94087). Wherever you get it done, ask specifically for a digital Canadian visa photo (not passport photo).
  • Purpose of Travel – Other: We wrote a letter specifying the following information (and submitted as PDF):
    • Addressed to the “The Visa Officer, Government of Canada”
    • Stated name, job, employer, visa, home location
    • Stated the purpose of travel (to attend the H1B visa interview)
    • Stated the intended place of stay, duration of stay. We also mentioned tourism (sightseeing) because that is what we had specified in IMM5257E
    • Provided the contact details (phone, email, address)
  •  IMM5645E: Family Information



  • IMM5257E: Application for Visitor Visa (Temporary Resident Visa) Made Outside of Canada (to be filled in separately for the other applicant)


  •  IMM5645E: Family Information (of the other applicant)
  • Passport: Current passport PDF (of the other applicant) with scans of first, last, and visa pages
  • Digital Photo: Of the other applicant. As mentioned earlier, the digital photo must be compliant with the Canadian photo requirements.

We uploaded all documents and paid the fees while submitting the application.

We received a message (decision letter) in 13 calendar days asking us to send our passports.


The most important thing to note here is that the VAC fees and passports are to be sent to different addresses.


  • We got a cashier’s check for 62.80 USD (31.40 USD per applicant) from our bank
    • The check was issued to “CSC Consular Services Inc”.
    • At the time of getting the check made, we missed getting the memo field filled in with the application numbers. So along with the cashier’s check, we sent a copy of the decision letters we had received via email for each application. (Better to just get the application numbers of the applicants be specified in the Memo field of the check – this would help to associate the payment with the application(s) it is meant for).
    • Nothing needs to be written behind the check.
  • Made a copy of the cashier’s check (to be used while sending the passport)
  • Sent the cashier’s check to:
    • CSC Consular Services Inc
      P.O. Box 410039
      Salt Lake City, Utah 84141-0039

(Check whether you need to send your cahier’s check to the LA CSC center or the NY CSC center, whichever is closer to your geographical location in USA)

  • Made a copy of the receipt of shipping the cashier’s check (to be used while sending the passport)


We collected the following (hard copy) documents:

  • Original current passports
  • Printed copy of the decision letters (for all applicants) received from CIC
  • Printed and signed copies of the consent form, one for each applicant:
  • Typed and printed the following contact information (mentioned separately for each applicant):
    • Name
    • Phone
    • E-mail
    • Return address
  • Copy of the cashier’s check
  • Copy of the shipping receipt of cashier’s check
  • USPS prepaid PRIORITY MAIL return envelope (VAC does not accept FedEx prepaid AWBs). A single return envelope is sufficient for multiple applicants.
  • Sent all the above documents to:
    • Canadian Visa Application Centre – Los Angeles
      2120 E Grand Avenue Suite 108A
      El Segundo
      CA, 90245

On the USPS website, we enabled e-mail notifications for the cashier’s check package to Utah and for the return envelope from Los Angeles.

We received the passports with visas (valid for less than 10 years, limited by our passport expiry dates) in 11 calendar days.

Additional Reference:

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