As a new permanent resident or citizen, you may want to invite your parents or grandparents to visit you in Canada for extended periods, for a variety of reasons. You may want them to stay with you after they retire, while you’re expecting a child or adjusting to parenthood, after the loss of a loved one, or just because you miss them.
For many newcomers, the process of inviting your parents or grandparents to stay with you in Canada isn’t as simple as just booking flight tickets. If your parents are foreign nationals, they may need a visa to enter Canada––and the time limitations of a visitor visa may not always be sufficient for your needs.
The Canadian government’s super visa program makes it easier for your parents or grandparents to visit Canada for multiple lengthy stays over the course of a 10-year period, without having to reapply for a visa every time. In this article, we deep-dive into how to apply for a parent or grandparent super visa, including the eligibility criteria and documentation requirements.
In this article:
What is a super visa?
A super visa is a multiple entry, temporary residence visa that allows parents and grandparents of Canadian permanent residents or citizens to stay with them in Canada for up to two years at a time. Starting July 4, 2022, super visa holders will be able to stay in Canada for up to five years at a time, with the option of applying for a two-year extension from within the country.
Typically, a super visa will be valid for up to 10 years (or the remaining validity of their passport), saving you and your parents or grandparents the hassle of reapplying for a visa each time they want to visit you.
When your parents or grandparents come to Canada on a super visa, their legal status will be that of a visitor. As a visitor, they will not have the same legal rights and responsibilities that you enjoy as a permanent resident or citizen, such as the right to work in Canada.
How is a super visa different from a visitor visa?
Although both the super visa and visitor visa grant visa holders a visitor status in Canada, they differ in several ways, including:
- Permitted duration of stay: A super visa will allow your parents or grandparents to stay in Canada for up to two years (up to five years for super visas issued after July 5, 2022). On the other hand, a visitor visa allows the holder to stay in Canada for up to six months, although the visa officer may sometimes grant a shorter duration visa.
- Validity of the visa: A super visa is usually valid for up to 10 years or until your passport expires whereas the validity of a visitor visa may be shorter.
- Applicant eligibility: While anyone can apply for a visitor visa for Canada, only parents or grandparents of Canadian citizens or permanent residents qualify for a super visa.
- Single or multiple entry: Super visas always permit multiple entries into Canada, which means that the visa holder can exit the country and re-enter it as many times as needed. However, a visitor visa may be single or multiple entry. Visitor visa applicants cannot choose whether they want a single or multiple entry visa and the decision is up to the visa officer.
Eligibility criteria for a super visa for Canada
To qualify for a Canadian super visa, the applicant must:
- Be the parent or grandparent of a Canadian permanent resident or citizen.
- Apply from outside Canada.
- Have a signed letter of invitation from the child or grandchild they are visiting in Canada. (see the section below for more details).
- Have medical insurance coverage of at least $100,000 CAD valid for at least one year from a Canadian insurance provider.
- Meet other admissibility requirements, including clearing a medical exam. The Canadian government may also assess other factors while reviewing super visa applications, including the applicant’s ties to their home country, the purpose of their visit, the economic and political stability of their home country, and more.
How to write a letter of invitation for a super visa
If you‘re inviting your parents or grandparents to stay with you in Canada for an extended period, they will require a written letter of invitation from you for their super visa application.
A letter of invitation includes a written commitment that you’ll be financially responsible for the parent or grandparent you invite for as long as they stay in Canada. It must also include the following information:
About the person or people you’re inviting:
- Their complete name and date of birth.
- Their address and telephone number in their home country.
- Their relationship to you.
- The purpose of their trip and how long they plan to stay in Canada (it’s best to include dates).
- Where they will stay and how they will pay for expenses (e.g., completely sponsored by you or split based on how much money they plan to bring).
About you (the invitee):
- Your complete name and date of birth.
- Your address and phone number in Canada.
- Your legal status in Canada (whether you’re a permanent resident or citizen) along with a copy of your PR card, Canadian citizenship card, or Canadian birth certificate.
- Your job title.
- The number of people living in your household, including you, your spouse, dependents, and any other people you’ve sponsored.
- Details of your family, including names and dates of birth of your spouse, children, and other dependents.
- Proof that your income is equal to or more than the low-income cut-off (LICO) for the number of people in your household, including the parent or grandparent being invited. You can attach copies of your pay stubs, bank statements, letter of employment, employment insurance stubs, or Notice of Assessment (NOA) or T1/T4 for the previous tax year, as proof of income to show you have sufficient funds to provide for your family, as well as your parents or grandparents.
- A signed commitment to support your parent/grandparent financially for the duration of their stay in Canada.
How to apply for a Canadian super visa
The Canadian government accepts super visa applications throughout the year and there’s no quota or cap for the maximum number of super visas granted in a year. As long as both you and your parents/grandparents can submit documentary evidence to prove your eligibility, there’s a high likelihood your parents’/grandparents’ super visa application will be approved. Here’s an overview of the application process:
Choose between an online or paper application
The applicant must be outside Canada when applying for a super visa. They can submit their application online or on paper, however, online applications are recommended. By applying for a super visa online, applicants can avoid processing delays and courier charges, and can also track their application status online.
Gather essential documents
Your parent or grandparent should review the document checklist and gather all essential documents for the application. These will typically include their passports, birth and marriage certificates, travel dates (flight tickets or itinerary), proof of medical insurance, and the letter of invitation you send them, along with your proof of status in Canada and financial documents.
They will also need to submit copies of their financial documents (including bank statements, tax returns, property documents, investments, etc.) or employment letters, if any, to prove that they have significant ties to their home country and that their stay in Canada will be temporary.
Some of the required documents can vary based on the country the application is submitted in. For instance, in some cases, you may be required to get the letter of invitation notarized before sending it to your parents/grandparents.
Fill out and submit the super visa application
After collecting all the necessary documents, the applicant can fill in the super visa application. They will have to pay the processing fee as well as the biometrics fee online using a debit or credit card before applying. For paper applications, be sure to keep a copy of the receipt, as it will have to be submitted along with the filled-out application. If biometrics are required for your country, paper applications must be submitted in person at the local visa application centre.
Submit additional documents as needed
While your parents’ or grandparents’ super visa is being processed, they may be asked to submit additional documents. Depending on which country they are applying from, they may need to submit their biometrics (photograph and fingerprints), appear for a medical exam, and submit a police certificate. In some cases, applicants may also be required to attend an interview at their local visa office.
Receive the super visa and get ready to travel
Once the super visa application is processed and approved, your parents/grandparents will need to submit their passports to get their visa. The visa sticker will include the date of expiry, and your parents/grandparents will be able to travel to Canada as many times as they wish while the super visa is valid.
At the time of their travel, they will be asked to show their passport, visa, and medical insurance to the border officer.
Can you apply for a super visa if you’re from a visa-exempt country?
Individuals from visa-exempt countries can apply for a super visa if they intend to stay in Canada for more than six months at a time. The application process for visa-exempt travellers is a little different and, instead of receiving a visa sticker on your passport, you’ll get an approval letter to present to the border officer when you arrive.
What is the processing fee for a parent or grandparent super visa?
The application processing fee for a parent or grandparent super visa is around $100 CAD. In addition, applicants may need to pay $85 CAD for biometric processing and between $200 CAD and $300 CAD for a medical exam, if one is required. These fees do not include the cost of travel, mandatory health insurance, courier charges, or the cost of their stay in Canada.
How long does it take for a super visa to be processed?
The processing time for a super visa varies based on the country you apply from. For instance, if you’re applying for one from India, the average processing time (not including the time for biometrics submission) is 135 days.
The processing time for your application will also depend on the number of applications received by the government, whether your application is complete, and how easy it is to verify the information you’ve provided. Be sure to check the government website for up-to-date processing times before applying.
Are you allowed to work in Canada on a super visa?
Since the super visa only grants the holder a visitor status, your parents or grandparents will not be allowed to work while they are in Canada on a super visa. However, they may be eligible to apply for a work permit from within Canada. Depending on the type of work permit they qualify for, they may first need to find a job in Canada. It’s important to note that if their work permit application is approved, their status will change to that of a temporary worker and their super visa will no longer be valid.
Can my parents stay with me permanently if they have a super visa?
A super visa is a temporary residence visa, so your parents or grandparents can only visit Canada for as long as their super visa is valid. However, there is no restriction on how long they need to stay outside Canada before re-entering the country. It’s important to note that they will require valid medical insurance each time they enter Canada, which may take some time to procure.
If you plan to invite your parents or grandparents to stay with you permanently, check if you’re eligible to sponsor them for permanent residence under the family sponsorship program. As permanent residents, your parents or grandparents can work in Canada and stay here permanently. However, the number of PRs granted under the family sponsorship program is limited and it can take two or more years for the application to be processed. While they wait for their PR application to be processed, your parents or grandparents can continue to stay with you on a valid super visa.