Citizenship and Immigration 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 Office versus Visa Application Centre (VAC): What's the Difference?

Canadian Visa for a Hungarian

Canadian Visa [Public Domain]

 

Visa Office

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 Citizenship and Immigration 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:

 

Where's the visa office nearest you?

 

Visa Application Centre (VAC)

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 CIC 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
  • Photocopying
  • 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.

 

Application Support Centres (ASCs)

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.

You can find your nearest ASC using this USCIS webpage.

To apply from within the United States, submit your application to the following visa offices:

Visitor Visas (TRVs) Los Angeles or New York
Study Permits

550 South Hope Street
9th Floor
Los Angeles, CA
90071

Work Permits

1251 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY
10020-1175

TRPs, Rehab Applications, ARCs Los Angeles or New York

 

Do I need to submit an application with biometrics?

This list is changing as of 2018

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:

Country

Date You Must Begin Submitting Biometrics

Country

Date

Country

Date

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

 

Locations of Visa Offices

You can find a list of Canadian visa offices and visa processing times on our Canadian visitor visa page.

 

Locations of Visa Application Centres VACs

Currently there are VACs in 94 countries. CIC 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;
  • Photocopying;
  • Printing;
  • Passport mailing;
  • Biometrics (if available).

See the Complete List of VACs

 

Locations of Application Support Centres (ASCs)

Please see USCIS' list of ASCs.


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