Tips: You can skip the paragraphs and just go towards the bolded sentences or the end of this post for the main info.
Also, actually I have drafted this post since last year and kept postponing to post it because I thought I’d post it once I go to Canada. Well, I did plan to visit Canada in the summer this year ’cause, well, it’s close to the US and next year I plan to graduate, and, ugh, I don’t plan to go there when it’s cold because I don’t like cold. But then there’s Corona and it would be too selfish and dangerous if I go traveling during this pandemic, so I don’t know, I don’t know if I’ll ever make it to Canada, but, well, at least I’ve got the visa… And the writing after this one paragraph was the one I wrote last year, and I was just too lazy to make some edits…
So, mmm, I have always wanted to go to Canada; like, it’s one of my top 3 favorite countries. I don’t know when I will go but it should be before I return to Indonesia after finishing my study in the US, I guess. I mean, geographically, it’s closer to the US than to Indonesia, so it’s better to go when I live in the US than when I go back to living in Indonesia later. Besides, later I’ll be busy with work and if I somehow get married and have kids, I’ll be busy with my family too. But on top of that, I don’t think I can afford to travel, i.e. I don’t think I’ll be able to save for traveling later 🙁 Hence, I decided to apply for a visa so if it’s granted, I can go anytime I want (like when I have the money and the time). My study comes to a phase where it’s flexible to leave the country now since I should only focus on my dissertation and do not attend classes anymore. But of course I must go in summer. I don’t think I can stand the cold in other seasons. I mean, Canada is a “cold” country. I’m a tropical girl; I love warm or cool places, but not cold.
Well, I’m not sure if I should include how much I spent to get the Canadian visa. I mean, personally I think it’s very expensive. But then, I don’t want people to think I’m rich, because I seriously don’t think that I’m financially rich. Being financially rich for me is when you don’t have to restrain yourself from something yo want for something you want more. Like, you can get both and all. Me? Hahaha I am really strict with my money so I can afford to travel, and even so, it’s still cheap traveling; like, I can’t stay at expensive hotels or take expensive flights, I should choose cheap buses and cheap hostels or airbnb… But let’s not focus on how much it is because it can potentially change, let’s just focus on the process.
Well, I thought applying for UK visa was quite troublesome, but then I find that applying for a Canadian visa is more troublesome – in a sense. I mean, it’s kinda not clear. I tried to visit the web, but it didn’t load. I tried to call, but they were just not in service, they did’t take any calls :/ So I really had to browse and read other/past applicants’ experiences, and it was kinda worrying too because I’d need to send my passport to Canada Visa Application Center, the address of which is different from that of the Consulate General. So I was anxious, right? I don’t want to lose my passport for sending it to the wrong address, right?
I tried to call. I sent them an email. But, well, no response. So I was kinda gambling and just went ahead and prayed when I finally sent in my documents after I submitted the online application. So, here are what you should do if you want to apply for a Canadian visa.
- Make a GCKey account. There were two options, but I used GC. I signed up. Actually I made a GCaccount last year, but I didn’t submit my application at that time because I just wanted to know how it looked. But guess what? The account was gone so I had to create a new account again. Note: Once we start an application, we have around 60days to submit it. Otherwise it will be deleted 😐
- Download the required forms. But it’s a bit troublesome. Sometimes it just wouldn’t open because it required a certain version of software. But once you download them, you can fill out the forms and upload them. If I’m not mistaken, there were two forms that I had to download: application form and family form.
- Upload the required documents. It’s basic requirements (bank statements, photo, travel documents, itinerary, evidence of past travel, etc.).
- Make the payment for the visa and biometrics and submit your online application. The biometrics is valid for 10 years, so once you are granted a visa, if you want to apply for another Canadian visa after your previous visa expires and it’s still within 10 years from the time you give your biometrics, then you don’t have to give it again and thus you only pay for the visa, not the biometrics. But if it’s your first time applying for a Canadian visa, then biometrics is a must. Well, at least for people from my country. And by the way, you’ll be charged extra (a fee) if you use American card. I used my (Wellsfargo) Visa card, and they charged me additional fee 😐 And, actually, you can only submit the application once you make the payment. I submitted mine online on Feb 23, 2019. I immediately got a notification saying that they have received my application.
- Wait till you get a notification saying you must go to an application support center to give your biometrics (photo and fingerprints). You must print the documents sent you to the application center. I got this notification right the next day after I made the online submission.
- Come to the application support center closest and most convenient to you and give your biometrics. I went to USCIS/ASC in Tucson. I thought I should make an appointment first. Went to ASC in Tucson on March 8, because it’s the nearest available date available, but I was wrong. It turned out that I only needed to bring the documents to the ASC and have my biometrics taken. So yeah, it’s kinda upsetting/ Like, I waited for the bus to go to the ASC but it didn’t come. And, since I didn’t want to be late, I requested for a lyft ride. But as soon as I got a driver, the bus came even before the lyft arrived. Jeez. I should’ve cancelled the ride, but I didn’t have the heart 🙁
- Wait. They’ll update the status of your biometrics. I gave my biometrics on March 8. I am not sure when it’s updated in the account but it’s updated quite fast, probably the next day, or the next two days, or maybe the same day, I didn’t check and I forgot. But they’ll say they’ve received our biometrics.
- Wait till you get a notification that you must send your documents to Canadian Visa Application Center. You’ve got to check which one closest or more convenient to you. On March 15, I got notified to check the message. It said that I needed to send my passport to Canada VAC. I was confused about the addresses because I read different info in their website and the reviews from other applicants, so I emailed the embassy/consulate general on the same day asking about things I should include and where to send to make sure. But I’ve got no replies until March 18. Hence, I decided to just send it after reading the review. Some reviews were really bad and worrying. Some people said it could take a very long time; e.g. they even missed their flights even before receiving their visa. Some even lost their passport. It’s really worrisome. And after my very convenient experience with my Australian visa application, this really got me to wonder: if Australia can be that convenient, why is this one so complicated and not clear?
- Mail your passport + passport request letter (sent to you) + consent form + USD $19.90 money order for VAC passport transmission fee + a return envelope to the nearest Canadian Visa Application Center. I sent mine to the one in Los Angeles: 8530 Wilshire Blvd Suite 450, Beverly Hills, CA 90211. But it’s really troublesome. It wasn’t clear where I could get the consent form (I signed only the second page). It wasn’t clear to whom I should make the money order payable or how much. It’s really vague. Everything was kinda blurred. I found out about all this info after I read the review – from other applicants, but it’s not even the official page/website of the Canadian embassy/consulate general. It’s so not nice.
- Check you application status and the tracking number for your return envelope. I got notified that my package has been delivered on March 20, 2019. 10.56am. Then I got notified that VAC has received my passport on the same day at 3.54pm. Then I got a notification from VFS Global that my application has been dispatched to the IRCC office on the same day at 10.54.27pm GMT. It’s fast, no? But I was still kinda having trepidation because I had no idea if they would grant me the visa or not. But then I got another notification from VFS Global that my application is under process at the IRCC Office on the next day, March 21. 10.04am. Finally, I got notified that my application had been updated and that I needed to login to my account to check my application status and messages for more information. It’s on March 22. 1.24pm. But I checked my USPS tracking number for the return envelope and it’s not there yet. Is it because it’s Friday? o.O
The next day, on Saturday, I checked my USPS tracking number again and it’s said that it’s left the Distribution Center in Los Angeles , CA at 3.55am. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be delivered on the same day. And I kinda doubted that they did delivery on Sunday, so maybe the latest I’d get my passport back was on the next Monday. But, ugh, neither VAC or VFS Global notified me that they’ve sent my passport back to me. Well,…I waited all day on Sunday but there was nothing in my mailbox and there was no notification either. Then the next day, on Monday, March 25, 1.58pm I finally got an sms notification from USPS, saying that my package has been delivered in my mailbox. And guess what? There was no photo in the Visa. What a disappointment. I was worried at first, thinking that maybe there was an error and that’s why my pic wasn’t attached, but then I browsed and read that it’s just how it is for Canadian visa. So what about the biometrics? *Sigh But, well, at least I got the visa, now I can go to Canada any time I want, well, at least until my passport expired and until I have enough savings ^^ And, ugh, there’s no notification from VFS Global or Canada Visa Application Center about the return envelope so I guess they just won’t update me on that. But, well, I’m happy that I received my passport along with the visa. Yay! 🙂
In brief, here’s the timeline of my Canadian Visa Application.
Feb 23, 2019: Submit my application online.
Feb 24, 2019: Receive the instruction letter to give biometrics.
March 8, 2019: Give biometrics in nearest ASC.
March 15, 2019: Notified to send my passport to Canada VAC.
March 18, 2019: Send my passport+$19.9 transmission fee+VFS consent form+passport request letter+return envelope.
March 25, 2019: Receive my passport and visa.
PS: In short, Canadian visa is by far the most expensive for me. I just wish my country will be visa free to many more countries 🙁