Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's instructions on where to submit your application can be confusing. Most first-time visa applications are submitted to the relevant visa office overseas. Applications for more permanent status in Canada are submitted directly to the processing centres in Canada. This article covers visa applications being submitted overseas. Other types of applications will be covered in a future article.
- Visa Offices versus Visa Application Centres (VACs): What's the Difference?
- Application Support Centres (ASCs)
- Do I need "biometric services?"
- Locations of Visa Offices
- Locations of Visa Application Centres
- Locations of Application Support Centres (ASCs)
Canada's visa offices are located in Canadian High Commissions, Embassies and Consulates throughout the world. They accept and process temporary resident visas, work permits, study permits and temporary resident permits, among other applications. Visa offices also handle applications for permanent resident travel documents. Additionally, they process certain applications sent to them by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for local investigation, such as sponsorships, permanent residence applications and others. (These applications cannot be submitted to a visa office and will be returned to you if submitted in error.) Visa offices can accept your visa or travel document applications, but that is all they can do. Visa offices do not provide help with applications and will return any incomplete applications to you. You should not go to a visa office for help. Certain select visa offices offer biometric services - taking your digital picture and your fingerprints - but do not offer any assistance with applications.
Applications visa offices accept:
Visitors to Canada:
Canadian Permanent Residents:
A Visa Application Centre (VAC) is a private, commercial office licensed by the government of Canada to accept visa applications - TRVs, work permits, study permits, TRPs - forward these applications to the appropriate Canadian govenrment office, and help applicants with basic questions they have about the application, before it is submitted, in the local language. They provide these services for a fee. The fee varies from country to country and from company to company. (4 companies have been licensed by IRCC to provide these services to date.) Only certain VACs provide biometric services, if necessary for your application, though the Canadian government is working on expanding the number of VACs which offer these services.
VACs accept the same applications as visa offices. They forward your application to the appropriate visa office on your behalf, for a fee.
Additionally VACs provide the following services for a fee:
- Computers to apply online
- Assistance applying online
- Passport mailing
- Photography (only certain VACs offer this)
- Fingerprinting (only certain VACs offer this)
VACs are not licensed by any of Canada's provincial law societies , nor are they licensed by the Immigration Consultants' Regulatory Council of Canada. VACs can only provide administrative support and cannot give immigration advice. If you need legal advice, you should contact a professional.
If you are applying from within the United States, and you need to submit biometric data with your application, you can get your picture and fingerprints taken at an Application Support Centre (ASC). ASCs are actually US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) offices that provide these services to Americans. You cannot submit your application at an ASC, nor can you get any assistance with your application. ASC staff have no knowledge of Canadian immigration policies.
To apply from within the United States, submit your application to the following visa offices:
|Visitor Visas (TRVs)||Los Angeles or New York|
550 South Hope Street
1251 Avenue of the Americas
|TRPs, Rehab Applications, ARCs||Los Angeles or New York|
As of 2013, nationals of certain countries need to submit digital photos and fingerprints in support of their temporary visa or permit applications. The list of countries is below, and it includes the dates when the submission of biometrics became mandatory:
Date You Must Begin Submitting Biometrics
|Afghanistan||December 11, 2013||Haiti||September 4, 2013||Palestine||December 11, 2013|
|Albania||October 23, 2013||Iran||December 11, 2013||Saudia Arabia||October 23, 2013|
|Algeria||October 23, 2013||Iraq||December 11, 2013||Somalia||October 23, 2013|
|Bangladesh||December 11, 2013||Jamaica||September 4, 2013||South Sudan||October 23, 2013|
|Burma (Myanmar)||December 11, 2013||Jordan||December 11, 2013||Sri Lanka||December 11, 2013|
|Cambodia||December 11, 2013||Laos||December 11, 2013||Sudan||October 23, 2013|
|Colombia||September 4, 2013||Lebanon||December 11, 2013||Syria||December 11, 2013|
|Congo, Democratic Republic of||October 23, 2013||Libya||October 23, 2013||Tunisia||October 23, 2013|
|Egypt||December 11, 2013||Nigeria||October 23, 2013||Vietnam||December 11, 2013|
|Eritrea||October 23, 2013||Pakistan||December 11, 2013||Yemen||December 11, 2013|
You can find a list of Canadian visa offices and visa processing times on our Canadian visitor visa page.
Currently there are VACs in 94 countries. IRCC is aiming for a total of 133 VACs in 96 countries by the end of 2014. The fees listed include only the basic service fee for forwarding your application to a Canadian visa office, and do not include additional costs such as:
- Use of a computer at a VAC;
- Use of a computer at a VAC with assistance;
- Passport mailing;
- Biometrics (if available).