Obtaining a Canadian visa — whether for tourism or as a student — requires the applicant to show proof of having sufficient funds across their bank accounts. Showing immigration authorities that you do have this money proves that you can actually afford your trip and stay in Canada;
With this taken into account, how much you actually need to show for a Canadian visa depends on several factors.
If you’re planning to travel to Canada for tourism purposes, the finances you need will have to cover the costs of travel, tourism-related entertainment, and living expenses — regardless of whether you’re renting accommodation or staying with family or friends.
The actual amount will differ depending on the travel plans that you provide to the authorities with your application. The funds you declare have to be reasonably sufficient to cover the entirety of your travels in Canada.
Staying with relatives is virtually free and can be disregarded entirely, while renting a room in a hotel near the Toronto airport cannot cost less than $100 to $200 per night. If you try to roughly estimate a trip to Toronto for a family of two — with visits to local museums and a traditional visit to the Niagara Falls — you’ll end up at roughly 7 or 8 thousand dollars.
If we’re looking at a parent traveling to see their children and the children are able to provide a letter of invitation where they volunteer to sponsor the trip, the declared amount needs to just be enough to cover plain tickets and souvenirs. The letter of invitation, in this case, needs to be supported by an income statement and include proof that the children are homeowners and will be able to house their parents.
If you’re applying for a student visa, you have to show that you have enough to cover the costs of your studies and accommodation.
Living expenses total to around $10,000 and over per year for the applicant. The money you need to support your family depends on the size of your family. Add an additional $4,000 for an accompanying family member and $3,000 for all subsequent accompanying family members. The costs of getting an education in Canada are much higher for foreign students than they are for permanent residents and citizens of the country.
If the education term is less than one year long, then the costs to cover living expenses should be recalculated accordingly. If you need your visa to cover more than one year — for example, if enrolling in a four-year bachelor's degree program — then the money has to cover at least a single year. It’s always a good idea to show that you have a bit of extra cash on top of these essentials — you don’t want to give off the impression that the money you declare is running your bank account dry.
Let’s imagine that you are an applicant planning to enroll in an engineering program at the University of Toronto. A single year will set you back about $55,000. Living costs will total to $10,000 at the very least. Add an additional $13,000 (or 20% percent of the aforementioned costs) as your “emergency fund” and you get $78,000 — this is the amount you will have to show with your visa application. This hefty amount should satisfy the authorities but may not be enough to cover all of your actual expenses, like buying textbooks, traveling the city, or paying for socializing and nights out.
As mentioned previously, the money you show with your visa shouldn’t leave your bank account empty. If all the funds you accumulate are barely sufficient, officials may suspect that you’re planning to immigrate to Canada under the guise of casual travel.
It’s not uncommon for illegal immigrants to put all of their savings at stake towards their visa when trying to get into a country: once they’re on Canadian soil, these immigrants will usually apply for refugee status.
Try to avoid situations where it looks like all of your savings are on the line: this greatly impacts your chances of successfully applying for a visa.
Showing a sufficient amount of money is crucial when applying for a long-term or short-term Canadian visa. Learn more about calculating the specific amounts in our articles on how much money to show with your application.
What about the source of these funds? Let's review some of the most common questions your immigration officer may have about the money you declare.
Most commonly, the money you show with your application is your regular salary (i.e., “earned money”). The origin of these funds is easily proven if you are legally employed. A simple bank statement will show the regular incoming payments along will all necessary information about your employer.
Things become more complex if you are paid in cash and the money you receive doesn't always make its way into your bank account. If this is the case, a notice from your employer with your work history and wage statement should suffice.
If your salary allows for savings — put those in the bank before you file your application. Attach a statement certifying that these savings were actually accumulated by putting some of your legal wages to the side. Anyone is legally entitled to keep their savings in cash and the fact that you just put this money in the bank can easily be written off.
In order to be legit, the money you show with the applicant has to be yours — i.e., not borrowed or loaned. The funds have to fully belong to you and be yours to spend at your discretion.
Money given to you as a gift by any third party can be used with your application only if verified by a gifting letter. A gifting letter — or “gift letter” — proves that the money gifted is in fact a gift (not a loan) and specifies its exact amount. Alternatively, you can attach a notarized gift deed to your bank statement to certify that the money that showed up in your account has legal origins.
It’s not rare for people looking to immigrate to sell their property to sponsor their move. Money made from selling real estate, vehicles, or other personal property is perfectly valid to show with your visa application.
All documents validating your sale – including bills of sale, agreements, and invoices – need to be translated into English or French, notarized, and attached to your bank statement.
This option should be used with caution if applying for a temporary visa: selling valuable property – particularly, real estate – can show immigration authorities that you plan on never returning to your country of origin. Being marked as a potential illegal immigrant is a guarantee that your visa will be renounced.
Consider working with an immigration consultant if the funds you plan on showing with your visa application have other less trivial origins. Working with a professional will guarantee that all of your supporting documents are in order and your cover letter favorably reflects your specific case.