What is a CAN+ Visa?
CAN+ Visa is a simplified visa process for applicants of all nationalities who have travelled to Canada and/or USA in the last ten years. Alternatively, anyone who holds a valid US visa can apply under the CAN+ programme.
Note that the CAN+ process is only for visitor visas. In other words, for nationals from countries that do not need a pre-approved visa to enter Canada do not need to bother themselves with this.
How to apply for a CAN+ Visa?
Okay, now this a bit tricky. There is no different process to apply for CAN+ Visa than a regular Canadian Visitor Visa. When you apply online using the Canadian Immigration portal (click here), you will be asked to fill out a few questions. Some of these questions will enquire whether you have a valid US visa, and/or whether you have been to the US or Canada in the last ten years. If you answer with a ‘yes’ to both or either of the two questions, you are eligible for CAN+ visa.
During the online application process, they will not mention CAN+ anywhere. They will not declare that you are in/eligible. Nonetheless, based on the questions you answered, what the system will do is to generate a Document Checklist that you would need to upload along with your visa application. If the system deems you fit for CAN+ programme, the documents you have to submit would be the bare minimum.
What is the document checklist for CAN+ Visa?
One of the significant benefits of the CAN+ scheme is that you don’t have to submit a pile of documents for your visa. Readers with weak passports know what I am talking about! Under the CAN+ programme, you do not need to show bank statements, Income Tax Returns, marriage certificate, purpose of travel or even an itinerary. The only documents you should upload are:
- A digital photo or two hard copies if you are submitting a paper application. For photo specifications, click here. Indian applicants note that Canada’s photo dimension requirements are the same as ours. I used my regular Indian passport photo and had no issues.
- The application form IMM 5257. Find it here. If you need help to fill the form, click here. If you are submitting an online application, the generated document checklist will give you a link to this form.
- Family Information form IMM 5707. Search it here. It is a pretty basic form that requires the names, current addresses, occupations, and dates of birth of your family members. Again, for online applicants, the document checklist will have a link to this form. Very simple!
- Copy of your passport pages showing your details such as name, date, place of birth, issue and expiry dates of the passport.
- Copy of your valid US visa, and/or entry-exit stamps from Canada and/or the US, thereby proving that you have travelled to either or both the countries in the last ten years. If your valid US visa and entry-exit stamps are on an older passport, that is fine. Note that a US visa stays valid upto the date mentioned on the visa even if the passport it is in has expired.
These documents are mandatory to submit when you apply for a CAN+ Visa. Among supplementary documents, they can ask for a previous travel form (IMM 5562). They also have a section to upload any other document you may want to submit.
PRO TIP:: If you are unable to view a PDF file from the Canadian Immigration website, simple right click and save it. After that, open it using your Adobe Reader.
GOOD TO KNOW: Under each category, you do not have multiple uploads option. In other words, you can only upload one PDF. This obviously isn’t a problem when it comes to the application and family information forms. However, in the case of, say, proof of previous travel to Canada or the US, you cannot upload a scanned copy of your US visa, and then your entry-exit stamps separately. So, compile all documents you need to show into a single PDF document. You can do so easily by using free online PDF tools, such as ILovePDF.
In case of paper applications, you will need to visit an application centre near you (obviously). Find one here. They will charge you an Application Handling Fee. VFS India charges CAD 15. For more information, click here. When you go to the Visa Application Centre, you need to tell them that you have a valid US visa and/or proof of previous travels to US/Canada in the last ten years. They will take your application and put a little sticker or note saying CAN+.
Do you have to pay/more less under the CAN+ visa programme.
No. You pay the same price as a regular Canadian Visitor Visa, which is CAD 100.
How long is the processing time for CAN+ visa?
This depends on where you live, really. Nonetheless, a huge benefit of applying under the CAN+ visa programme is that your visa is processed within 3 to 5 business days. Or even less! I know people who have had their visas approved the very next day.
In case of online applications, when you are done paying the fees and submitting your application, the system will tell you how long it will take to get a decision. It told me forty four days. Know that the Canadian Immigration portal does not show a different date for CAN+ visa applicants. It shows you an estimated date for regular Canadian Visitor Visa applications. In case of India, unfortunately, that can be really long.
What happens after your CAN+ visa is approved?
For online applicants, once your visa is approved (you would get an email), you have to go down to the nearest Application Centre (find one here) to submit your passport. Moreover, you must carry with you the letter from Immigration Canada asking you to submit the passport and a copy of the personal details page(s) of your passport. The application Centre, of course, will charge a ‘Passport Handling Fee’ for this. You can collect the passport once it’s stamped and ready to be picked up. Alternatively, you can have it shipped to your house for an additional fee. For all VFS India fees, click here. Finally, your application centre may ask you to fill a consent form. You can find the same on their specific website or they can provide you one on arrival at the centre. For those submitting from India, click here for the form.
For paper applicants, I am not sure if they keep your passport at the time of application or ask you to submit it later only when and if your visa has been approved. It might be best to call the Visa Application Centre to find out.
I currently told a B1/B2 US visa valid for ten years. Furthermore, I previously had a F1 visa (courtesy Cornell University). So, of course, I had travelled, or rather lived, in the US before. I decided to apply for a CAN+ visa online. I answered the questions about my previous travels to US/Canada and if I have a valid US visa. Following this, the system generated a checklist, which made it apparent that I had automatically been approved for CAN+ visa as they only asked me to submit the aforementioned documents.
I filled out all the forms. However, I didn’t need to manually sign the application form. In fact, I could even save the form on my Mac. You just need the latest version of Abode Reader to do that. Unlike the application form, the family information and (supplementary) previous travels form did not have the option of digital signature. I had to fill out my information, take a print out, sign the forms, scan and then upload them. A bit tedious but not very time consuming if you have a printer and scanner at home.
Next, I already had scanned copies of my US visas (both F1 and B1/B2), and that of the passport pages which show entry-exit stamps to and from the US. I merged these into a single PDF file and uploaded it. For the picture, I already had a digital copy, which I uploaded. Thankfully, the system did not reject it. Following this, I uploaded the first and last scanned pages of my passport. As mentioned before, I also included a form detailing my previous travels, which wasn’t mandatory. I paid the fee and submitted the application.
After three days, I got an email from the Canadian Immigration that a decision on my visa has been made and that I need to submit my passport. I went to the Visa Application centre with the required documents mentioned above, paid the passport handling fee, and left with a receipt. After another three days, I received a second email that my passport is ready for collection. I went in the next day (with the receipt given to me previously), and picked up my passport, which had my new shiny Canadian visa!
GOOD TO KNOW: The sticker visa may not have your picture. Do not freak out, that is normal!
PRO TIP:: A Canadian visitor visa is valid for ten years or until your passport expires. I waited till I renewed my passport, and so, scored a Canadian visa valid for ten years.
A really important FYI: Being eligible for CAN+ visa does not imply that you will automatically get a Canadian Visitor Visa. CAN+ visa programme only makes your visa application faster and easier. However, it does not guarantee a visa. Be open to the possibility that your visa may be rejected. Especially if you have over-stayed your visa in Canada or the US in any previous occasion. Or, if you have partaken in activities that your previous visa did not permit you to do. For example, working on a Visitor Visa.
For more my last post on visas, see ‘How to Get a Bolivian Visa from Cusco, Peru.’