Getting a Canada visa: A Filipino traveler’s tips

Joshua Berida

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Getting a Canada visa: A Filipino traveler’s tips
Getting a Canada visa can be difficult and daunting, so here are some tips to remember as you begin applying for one

MANILA, Philippines – Canada is on the bucket list of many Filipinos who love to travel for many reasons: exploring Toronto, experiencing Quebec, and hiking in Banff, to name some activities.

However, getting a visa could be difficult – and daunting. You’ll need to prove strong ties to the Philippines, as a guarantee that you’d be returning. It took me two attempts before I got approved.

Other visa holders’ experience might be different from mine, but I hope you can pick up a helpful tip or two from my experience to better prepare your application for a Canada tourist visa.

Sign up for an account

I registered for a GCKey account through this website. Sign up for an account and create a unique username, password, and security questions. Click on the “visitor visa, study, and/or work permit” option.

I didn’t have a Personal Reference Code, so I proceeded to click on the “start application” option. You’ll then have to answer several questions about your trip. After answering, you’ll know if you’re qualified for a visitor visa. If you’re eligible, you can proceed to upload the requirements.

Prepare the requirements

You’ll see a list of documents you need to upload for your application. You must also submit them within the deadline given to you. These are the documents I submitted:

  • Form IMM 5257 – Download an updated form on the website. Fill this out digitally. You will be
    able to sign it electronically after you finish.
  • Valid passport
  • Bank statements for 3+ months
  • Certificate of employment
  • Pay slips
  • BIR 2316
  • Bank certificate
  • Itinerary
  • Booked accommodation
  • Flight reservation
  • Travel history – Mention your trips before and include images of your previous visas and stamps.
  • Form IMM 5645
  • Cover letter – This is optional, but I included it.
  • Photo (passport size 35mm x 45mm, white background)
Uploading your documents

After preparing the requirements, you can proceed to upload the files. You can upload the following file types: Doc, Docx, PDF, JPG, PNG, and TIFF.

There are different tabs, depending on the type of requirement you need to submit. For example, if you’re uploading financial means, you’ll need to put all of your pay slips, bank statements, and bank certificate in ONE file. You can group requirements together and save them in one file if you think
they’re in the same category. File size shouldn’t be over 4MB.


After I uploaded all the requirements, the payment tab appeared. I proceeded to pay my visa application (CAD100) and biometrics (CAD85) fee.


I scheduled my biometrics appointment via this website. I received an email confirming my appointment. I brought the letter and my passport on the day of my schedule. The biometrics is valid for 10 years. If you get a refusal email, you can re-apply without paying the biometrics again.

I went to Canada’s visa application center in Makati: VFS Services Phils. Pvt. Inc., 29th Floor The World Center Building, 330 Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue. Their schedule: 7 am to 4 pm.

The long wait

It took around four months before I received a response from the embassy about my application.

Thankfully, they approved my visa application. The wait can take just weeks or months – this is on a case-to-case basis. They’ll email you whether they refused or approved your application.

Visa approval

I received a passport request email from the embassy. I printed the email out and made my way to Canada’s VFS center in Makati. I brought the letter and my passport. You don’t need to book an appointment when you submit your passport to them.

At the center, I filled out a few more forms and got a number. I waited until they called my number. I requested to have the passport mailed to my address instead of returning to the center. You can send your passport to VFS if you don’t have the time to go to their center. I was elated to see the Canada tourist visa when I got my passport back. It was valid until the expiration of my passport.

If you already have a US visa, you can apply for an eTA or Electronic Travel Authorization. You can learn more about this through this website. From what I’ve heard from others, it’s also easier to get a Canada tourist visa sticker once you
already have a US visa.

In my experience of applying for visas, the factors that strengthen any tourist visa application (including for Canada) are financial means, rootedness, and travel history. It helps that you can support yourself for your planned trip instead of asking someone to sponsor you.

Rootedness shows you intend to just visit and not look for employment. This can mean job tenure, a profitable business, properties under your name, and family in the Philippines, among others.

Travel history shows that you often leave the country for vacations and always return without violating the visa rules of the countries you visit. An extensive travel history also implies that you can afford to go on a holiday outside the Philippines. –

Joshua Berida is a writer that loves to travel. He blogs at

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