Wed | Oct 20, 2021

Immigration Corner | How to apply for a transit visa

Published:Tuesday | September 21, 2021 | 12:07 AM

Dear Ms Powell,

My husband and I will soon be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and after all these lockdowns, we believe it is a good time to take a trip to the motherland. We looked online and realised that all the flights would take us through the USA or Canada. The problem is that we applied before to the USA and we didn’t get a visa, so we are a little scared to apply to Canada. Do you think we should apply for the visitor’s visa to Canada? What are some of the things we should consider? I’m worried that when they see that the USA rejected us, they will automatically reject us too. What do you think?

– LA

Dear LA,

Congratulations on your upcoming silver wedding anniversary. Take courage, as a refusal at the USA Embassy does not necessarily mean that your visa application to Canada will automatically be refused. The success of your application depends on your ability to satisfy a Canadian visa officer that you are admissible, have the resources to afford your trip, that you will respect the terms of your visa, and that you are not a threat to the people in Canada.


If you are from a visa-required country such as Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and you are connecting to another international flight, merely transiting through Canada, then you may only need a transit visa. A transit visa is an official document granted by the Canadian government that indicates that you meet the requirements to travel through a Canadian airport for up to 48 hours. Your visa may be valid for one or two entries, depending on your travel plans. Your transit visa will be for a limited time, so you will need to ensure that you plan your trip wisely, so that you use it within the time granted.

You should ensure that your connecting flight leaves Canada less than 48 hours after your arrival at a Canadian airport. If it is more than 48 hours, or you plan to leave the airport, then a regular visitor’s visa will be required.

It is your responsibility to clearly show that the purpose of your trip is genuine, that is, to celebrate your wedding anniversary, and that you have sufficient ties to your home country that will motivate you to return at the end of your trip. You must have proof that you are a law-abiding citizen who will not breach the Canadian immigration laws and that you will not be a threat to the safety of others in, or transiting through, Canada.

It is important to include documents such as your marriage certificate, proof of employment, proof of funds, an itinerary, hotel, and tour bookings. If you are travelling with a group or meeting friends, you should provide proof.

It is important to provide a bank statement that shows your savings and investments. This amount must exceed the cost of your travelling and accommodation expense, without causing financial hardship on you and your family. Although this is a transit visa, you should still provide proof of ownership of property, such as land, house, motor vehicle. You must also have a valid passport that will not expire within the next six months. Your previous travelling experience is sometimes examined to see if you have visited other countries and not exceeded the time that you were granted.


Since we are still in a pandemic, there are strict rules about who will be permitted to visit or transit through Canada. Have you been vaccinated? You will need to present proof that you have received the full dose of a vaccine that is approved by Health Canada. I have written a previous article about this. Additionally, you will need proof of a negative PCR test, done within 72 hours of your arrival in Canada. You should also check the requirements at your final destination to ensure that you are able to meet them. You could be faced with the need to redo your PCR test while in transit.

What was the reason that your visitor’s visa to the USA was denied? If your visa to the USA was denied because you have a history of criminal activity, or for health or financial reasons, then you can expect that you will need to overcome these hurdles. For example, if you have been found guilty of driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, then this is considered a serious criminality and therefore, you will need to make a special application for authorisation to enter Canada, and present documents to overcome this inadmissibility. You may be deemed rehabilitated, or you may be able to apply for a rehabilitation or record suspension. The key is to clearly demonstrate that you will not commit the crime again.

Another important requirement is that you must submit properly completed application forms, along with all the specified documents. If you still have doubts, I suggest that you book an appointment with an immigration lawyer to assist you with your application.

Deidre S. Powell is an immigration lawyer, mediator and notary public with office in Ottawa, Ontario. Connect with her via, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or call 613-695-8777.