Canada Visa – A Step-By-Step Guide

Have you ever thought of witnessing the stunning setting of Niagara Falls? Or treat yourself to the majesty and adventure available at the Glacier National Park in British Columbia. Canada is home to all that and more!

But first, you’ll need to sort out your visa. South African passport holders need a Visitor Visa to enter Canada. While there are Canadian embassies, consulates and trade offices throughout South Africa, you will need to make your applications at the Visa Application Centres (VACs) in Pretoria and Cape Town. Always apply for the visitor visa at least 30 days before your departure date.

Make sure that you check your eligibility before you start the application process and submit your application well before your flight departure.

Please take note that this process applies to South African passport holders.

Types of Visas

  • Visitor Visa – This visa allows you to enter Canada once. You can also apply for this visa if you are visiting your children or grandchildren. It is valid for six months.
  • Super Visa – You will need to apply for this visa if you are visiting children or grandchildren and need to stay for longer than six months. It is valid for two years.
  • Transit Visa – You will need this visa if you change planes in Canada. This visa only applies to you if you have less than 48 hours between your flights and you’re just transiting. If you have more than 48 hours between your flights, you will need to apply for a Visitor Visa.

Processing Time

Once you have submitted your application and biometrics, you could have your Visitor Visa within two weeks.

  • Visitor Visa – 14 working days
  • Super Visa – 87 working days
  • Transit Visa – Applications for the Transit Visa usually take a few weeks or less. The processing time depends on the VAC, the volume of applications, and if you need to complete any additional steps.

Visa Collection

You don’t need to worry about collecting your Canada visa and passport. Once your application is approved, the VAC will send your visa and passport back to you (you can arrange this with the VAC when making your application). Be sure to check that the visa stamp states the correct dates of your time in Canada.

Visa Costs

Your Canada visa can be quite costly, and can easily cost around C$280 (R2900). Below is a breakdown of the visa and service fees.

Please note that fees are non-fundable and must be submitted with your application.

The visitor visa and super visa will cost you $100 (R1047).

The transit visa is free.

Biometrics recordings cost $85 (R890)

Visa application fees at VAC

Service charge for application handling $51.71 (R542)
A self-service computer terminal for form completion $14.52 (R152)
Assistance with form completion on self-service computer terminals $26.97 (R283)
Photocopy services – price per page $0.21 (R3)
Photography service $8.58 (R90)
Transmission of passport to embassy upon request by visa office $41.37 (R433)
Courier delivery $18.34 (R192)
Courier early delivery $19.21 (R201)
Courier overnight express $14.58 (R153)
SMS services $2.50 (R27)
GC Fee Collection and Remittance $3.56 (R38)

You can only pay in South African Rands.

You can pay by debit/credit card at the VACs.

See below for the info regarding making cash deposits to the VACs.

Bank: Nedbank
Account Name: VFS Visa Processing (SA) Pty Ltd
Account Number: 1049565797
Branch Code: 198765
nathan phillips square toronto canada visa

Image courtesy of @anilulorey via Instagram

Canada Visa Requirements

  1. Photocopy of the information page of your valid passport, including the passport number, issue and expiry dates, your photo, name, date, and place of birth
  2. Proof of financial support
  3. Photocopy of your marriage license/certificate (if applicable)
  4. Purpose of travel
  5. Minors travelling alone or with one parent must have custody documents / a letter of authorization from the other non-accompanying parent / a letter of authorization signed by both parents or legal guardians

Super Visa Requirements

  1. A letter of invitation from your child or grandchild residing in Canada as a permanent resident or Canadian citizen (you must also have information on your host child or host grandchild’s family composition (dependants, including spouse, children or other relatives financially dependent on your host child or host grandchild).
  2. One of the following documents to prove that your child or grandchild meets the Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) minimum:
    • A most recent copy of the Notice of Assessment. If you don’t have a hard copy of a Notice of Assessment on file, you can print the tax returns and other personal tax information using the CRA’s My Account for Individuals.
    • A most recent copy of the T4 or T1 tax form
    • Original letter from employer stating title, job description and salary
    • Employment insurance pay stubs
    • If self-employed, a letter from an accountant confirming their annual income
    • Proof of other sources of income (pensions statement, investments, etc.)
  3. Evidence of the parent or grandparent relationship to the Canadian citizen or permanent resident you wish to visit (copy of birth certificate, baptismal certificate or other official document naming you as parent or grandparent).
  4. Proof of private medical insurance coverage for a minimum of one year with a Canadian insurance company (copy of the insurance certificate or policy)

Transit Visa Requirements

  1. Your original passport
  2. Good quality photocopies of your current and previous passports for the last five years, which include:
    • Visas
    • Stamps
    • Your biographical data (name, date of birth, passport number), including your photo
moraine lake banff national park canada visa

Image courtesy of @alex_driebergen via Instagram

How to Apply

  1. Get your required documents and print others that are needed for your application (see below for where to print).
  2. Download and print the application form, complete it and put it together with the rest of your required documents.
  3. Visit one of the VACs (see below) to submit your documents as part of your visa application.
  4. You must be ready to pay for your visa application when applying.
  5. You will also have to pay the relevant fees for applying at a VAC.
  6. If you’re a first-time applicant, you will need to give biometrics. You can do that when submitting your application. VAC staff will check that you’ve paid all the relevant fees before you can give your biometrics.
  7. After you apply, the VAC will check your application, and may additionally require the following:
    • Go for an interview with one of the VAC officials
    • Send more information
    • Get a medical exam (if your visit is for more than six months)
  8. Make sure to arrange a courier to ensure your passport and visa will be sent to you. Due to there being only two VACs in the country, it’s wiser to arrange delivery of your visa and passport so that you only need to visit your closest VAC once.

Where to Apply

See below for the Canada Visa Application centres in South Africa.

Cape Town

Address: 5th floor,
30 Waterkant Street
Cape Town

Pretoria

Address: Cherry Lane Centre,
1st Floor,
114 Fehrsen Street,
Nieuw Muckleneuk,
Brooklyn,
Pretoria

Where to Print

Cape Town

Printing Cape Town | Printers Cape Town – PARKADEprint

Address: 18 Long Street,
Cape Town City Centre

Pretoria

Jetline Brooklyn

Address: Brookfield Office Park,
273 Middel Street,
Brooklyn,
Pretoria
victoria canada visa

Image courtesy of @yummy_73 via Instagram

If you haven’t yet, book a flight to Canada with Travelstart!

With this step-by-step guide, you’ll have your visa sorted with enough time to spare to focus on what you’re looking forward to experiencing in this exotic North American nation.

Subscribe to our newsletter to find out about awesome holiday packages and flight deals to Canada. Find other great travelling opportunities with our flight specials!

Have you previously applied for a Canadian visa? Let us know about your experience in the comments!

All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart is not affiliated with immigration authorities or their application centres and will not be liable for loss or inconvenience arising from the use of this volatile information.

Featured image courtesy of @therergulartravelholic via Instagram

Our Readers Comments

  1. Just wish to know if Canadian visa is not processed anywhere in Durban

    • Hi Thoko,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      The Canadian High Commission is in Pretoria and the official Visa Handling agency VFS: Canada Visa Application Centre is based in Cape Town.

  2. hi

    I am trying to access the application forms with my web browser however it is not downloading it and saying my adobe reader is expired even though it is not. Kindly please advise where I can get all the application forms I need.

    • Hi Suhayl,

      Thanks for getting in touch and sorry to hear you struggling.

      For this you would need to contact the Embassy direct or the official visa handling agency VFS Global. They will need to check on their side and should be able to send you the relevant links where you would be able to download the forms.

      Helpline number: +27124253002

      Helpline email: info.cansa@vfshelpline.com

  3. We are travelling to USA from SA in December. We have 5 hour stopover in Toronto Cannada. Do we need to apply for a transfer Visa and is there additional costs?

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      You would need to contact the Embassy or official visa handling agency. They will be able to advise if a transit visa is required and if so what the cost would be, correct procedures to follow and what documentation will be required.

  4. Good day

    I applied for a Canadian visa on 6 July, on 30 July they requested a police clearance. ( that takes ages) so eventually today I received the police clearance and submitted it.
    does the 14-day process count all over again for submitting of additional documents as well or do you have any idea of the timeline if you have already applied and just submitting an additional document they request? I am leaving SA on 30 Aug so super stressed as I very limited time left.

    • Hi Heidi,

      For this you would need to contact the Embassy direct as they are the ones who are assisting with with the application process and granting the visa’s.

      They will be able to answer your visa queries with the most up to date and correct info.

  5. Hi, does the visa processing time start after you submit the online application, after the biometrics or after the medical exam?

    • Hi Danielle,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Once the Embassy have all the visa information including results for medical exam will they start the process.

      But please contact the Embassy direct for the most up to date information.

  6. I have downloaded IMM5257e.pdf form and finished fill in, come to the signature of applicant, how to add my own signature to the computer page? and how to submit my application on line?

    • anyone here to help? how strange! anyway, I don’t need this!

    • Hi Pauline,

      Sorry to hear you struggling.

      Best to contact the Canadian Embassy direct. As you are applying on their site they will need to look into this on their end. They should be able to advise accordingly.

      Hope you come right.

  7. HI I would like to apply for canada long term tourist visa( 5 years or 10 years). To get this long term visa do i need have the passport validity for 5 or years Or it doesn’t matter? Please advice

    • Hi Sara,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      For this you would need to contact the Embassy direct. As they are the ones granting the visa’s they will need to advise accordingly.

  8. I submitted my application online and did biometrics. It’s been more than 14 days and I’m still waiting for feedback but the number for VFS is not working. Any other ways to follow up? Any feedback from previous applicants that was in a similar boat?

    • Hi Hans,

      Sorry to hear you struggling to reach them.

      Maybe try contacting them via e-mail. Details are provided below. We hope you manage to reach them soon.

      VFS: Canada Visa Application Centre
      Telephone No : (012) 425 3002
      Email address : info.cansa@vfshelpline.com

  9. How much funds should i have available for my stay in Canada?

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      For this you would need to contact the Embassy or official handling agency direct. They will be able to advise and provide you with the most up to date information:

  10. i applied for visitor visa and had my biometric done and it has been over 3 months now and no progress has been made to request for my passport. should i be worried because my fkights are booked and due in less than a month’s time now. any advice would be appreciated. thank you.

    • Hi Jay,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      I would follow up with Embassy or official visa handling agency direct to get feedback on the progress.

    • Hello Jay,
      I am also in dire straits. Did you make any headway with your application? What will you recommend?

      Tess

  11. Hi there,

    I applied for my visa on 9 May. I have phoned both the VAC office and they have indicated that they are unable to let me know the status of my application. I have also visited the embassy, but security will not let you in to enquire on status of visa application. I have now sent emails. My flight is on 15 June and I am very concerned. Is there any other way to obtain status of application.

    • Hi Natashia,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      I’m afraid only the official visa handling agency and or Embassy will be able to advise on the progress of your visa application.

      We do hope you receive it soonest.

    • Hi Natasha,

      Can you help with some tips on how you sorted it out. My flight is a few days after yours.

    • Natashia
      Did you manage to get a visa?

  12. I applied for a visitor visa through visa handling agency (Global Visas ),but after submitting all the required documents and making all payments, i haven’t heard from them (visa handling agency ) and it’s more than 14 days now still waiting for the visa.

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      I would suggest contacting them direct. They can look on their back end to see if there are any delays from the Embassy’s side.

  13. Hi,
    I will be attending a conference at Carleton university 7-9 August 2019, I am waiting for my abstract to get approved, what is the latest date I can apply for the visa to make it in-time for the conference?

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Processing times for a visitors visa is currently 15 working days, however, there are major delays in the issuing of visas, due to a backlog at the High Commission SA offices.

      Some applicants may be required to appear for an interview at the High Commission – processing times for such applications may be significantly longer.

      Just a heads up fees are non-fundable and must be submitted with your application.

  14. Hi there,
    I applied for a visitor visa online, and did my biometrics in CT on 9th May.
    I still have not received a passport request letter from the Canadians.
    I fly to London and Canada in 2 weeks time.
    Do you have any advice as I am starting to stress.
    Thanks!

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for contacting us.

      I would suggest contacting the Canada Visa Application centre you applied through to see what feedback they give. They should be able to provide with more information if there is a back log on their side.

  15. One question, after completing all the documentation for a Canadian visa. I have paid, have a transaction approved and a Ref. No.
    Exactly what happens next, do they contact me regarding the biometrics or do I contact them to make an appointment?
    Thanks

    I am requesting for my brother

    • Hi Fiona,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      If you’re a first-time applicant, you will need to give biometrics. You can do that when submitting your application. VAC staff will check that you’ve paid all the relevant fees before you can give your biometrics. After you apply, the VAC will check your application, and may additionally require the following:

      Go for an interview with one of the VAC officials
      Send more information
      Get a medical exam (if your visit is for more than six months)

      For any further questions you welcome to contact the Canada Visa Application centre direct. They will be able to assist in answering any other questions you might have.

  16. What space do you need in your passport – is it two blank pages facing one another

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Once the visa’s are in, you would need 2 – 3 consecutive blank pages.

      Please contact the airline and or Embassy as they will be able to give you the most up to date information.

  17. How long does it take for biometrics to be ready? I have applied for a work permit at the beginning of Feb 2019, had my biometrics done a day after they sent me the letter that says I have to give my biometrics, still haven’t gotten a response whether the biometrics are correct. I’m getting quite negative!

    • Hi Cari,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Processing Time
      Once you have submitted your application and biometrics, you could have your Visitor Visa within two weeks.

      Visitor Visa – 14 working days
      Super Visa – 87 working days
      Transit Visa – Applications for the Transit Visa usually take a few weeks or less. The processing time depends on the VAC, the volume of applications, and if you need to complete any additional steps.

      However the above processing time is just an estimate. This does depend on the Embassy and if they have a back log. I would suggest contacting the Embassy or Official visa handling agency to see what time frame they can give.

  18. Hi

    Is there no Visa processing centre in Johannesburg?

    • Hi Jonathan,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      I’m afraid there is no visa processing centre in Johannesburg. Only Pretoria and Cape Town.

  19. Good afternoon. Please confirm that there is a visa office in Cape Town, as per your article. My sibling had to travel to Pretoria last year to apply for a visa. Thank you.

    • Hi Natalie,

      I done a quick search on Google and it shows there is still a visa office in Cape Town.

      An address is provided but I’m afraid no contact number.

  20. It seems impossible to even download the forms from your website?

    • Hi Noel,

      Sorry to hear you struggling.

      If you could try this link:

      https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/application/account.html

      If you don’t come right please contact the official visa handling agency:

      VFS: Canada Visa Application Centre
      Telephone No : (012) 425 3002
      Email address : info.cansa@vfshelpline.com
      Street Address (Pry) : Cherry Lane Office Park, 1st Floor, 114 Fehrsen Street, Nieuw Muckleneuk Brooklyn, Pretoria
      Street Address (Cpt) : 5th Floor, 30 Waterkant Street, Cape Town, 8000
      Website Address : http://www.vfsglobal.ca/Canada/South Africa

    • Hi Noel.

      If you’re getting this message:

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  21. Hi would love to apply for visiting visa for 2 what must we have to qualify for the visa

    • Hi Steve,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      You welcome to read through our blog: Canada Visa – A Step-By-Step Guide here we provide all the information one needs to know when apply for a Canadian tourist visa.

      http://www.travelstart.co.za/blog/canada-visa/

      We do recommend contacting the Embassy or official visa handling agency as visa information could change at anytime.

  22. Hi I’ve completed biometrics last Thursday (11th April) and have been waiting for feedback. It’s been a week and there’s nothing. Flying out next Saturday (27th), is there anything that can be done to follow up on status? I am very nervous that the process will not be completed in time for my flight

    • Hi Sharlene,

      Best to contact them direct and they can check on the back end and hopefully give feedback on the progress of your visa.

  23. “Major delays in the issuing of visa”. I did my biometrics a week ago (11 April) but to date have not received my letter to deliver passport. How long does such a letter take to process. Also how long does it take from delivery of passport to pick up of passport with visa stamped in it.

    • Hi Shane,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      I’ve checked on Travelinfo and it shows the following information:

      “”Processing times:
      NB: Currently it takes 15 days to process a visitor visa.
      However, there are major delays in the issuing of visas, due to a backlog at the High Commission SA offices.””

      For any further information I would recommend contacting the Embassy. They would be able too check on the back end and advise. will be able to see on the back end how long the processing time is.

    • Hi Shane,

      I am in the same situation. Also did biometrics on 11 April. Have you perhaps received feedback from the Embassy requesting passport drop off at VAC.

  24. Good day

    – The Canadian government website states that it takes 19 days for a visitor visa. Is this correct?
    – Would i be able to apply for a Canadian AND US visitor visa within 1 month?
    – Is a police clearance certificate a requirement?

    Thank You

    • Hi Justin,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      19 days is just a guideline. I’ve looked on Travelinfo and currently it shows:

      Canada: NB: Currently it takes 15 days to process a visitor visa.
      However, there are major delays in the issuing of visas, due to a backlog at the High Commission SA offices.
      Some applicants may be required to appear for an interview at the High Commission – processing times for such applications may be significantly longer.

      The US visa processing time is faster but you also need to see what slots are available when booking your appointment online.

  25. Hi,
    Do you need to have proof of flight bookings, accommodation etc for the application as required for Schengen visa? How long prior to travel can you apply for a Canadian tourist visa so that you can take advantage of early flight bookings?

    • Hi Craig,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      You welcome to read through our blog: Canada Visa – A Step-By-Step Guide

      http://www.travelstart.co.za/blog/canada-visa/

      Here we provide all the information: What documents are required, visa costs, types of visa’s, processing time and when one can apply for their visa etc

      However visa information can change at anytime so we do recommend you contact the Embassy or official visa handling agency direct.

  26. Is there anyone who can assist with Permanent residency visa?
    Or advise on the steps we need to take?

    • Hi Nicole,

      For this you would need to contact the Embassy direct. As they are the ones granting the visa they will be able to answer any visa related queries as well as the correct procedures to follow when applying, what documents are needed and the cost.

  27. We would like to apply for a tourist visa based on an invitation from my cousin. What are the requirements?

    • Hi Rudo,

      You welcome to read through our blog: Canada Visa – A Step-By-Step Guide http://www.travelstart.co.za/blog/canada-visa/

      Here we provide all the relevant information you need to know for applying for Canadian tourist visa.

      Please keep in mind all information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice so we do recommend you contact the Embassy or official visa handling agency direct for the most up to date information.

  28. do the kids have to be present at the VAC when applying for a canadian tourist visa? they are 3 and 6 yrs old.

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      For this you will need to contact the Embassy or official visa handling agency. They will be able to advise if children will need to be present or not when applying for a visa.

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