When applying for a visitor visa for Canada (also called a Temporary Resident Visa or TRV), a strong Letter of Invitation is required for the whole application process to be successful. The invitation letter should contain all the essential information the officer needs to make a proper judgment about the purpose of your trip. In many cases, the invitation letter, and the documents that support it, will make the difference in whether your visa is approved or not.
1. Who should write the letter of invitation?
Before deciding who should write your visa invitation letter, it’s important to consider why you want to visit Canada. Is your trip purely a holiday for sightseeing purposes? Or are you planning to visit a family member, a close friend, attend a business meeting or check out post secondary institutions for possible study? In some cases, an invitation letter is not necessary, such as a sightseeing trip or travelling to visit post secondary institutions. However, in other circumstances, a visa invitation letter is a mandatory part of your application process. The purpose of the trip will determine whether or not you need an invitation letter, and if so, the best party to write it.
If you are travelling to Canada to visit friends or relatives, then you should obtain the invitation letter to Canada from the friend or relative with whom you have the closest connection. Whenever possible, a blood relative is a better choice than a non-blood relative (ie. sister instead of brother-in-law); and a relative will usually be considered a closer connection than a friend. However, ensure that you actually intend to spend time with whoever is providing the letter of invitation. It is not a good idea to get a letter of invitation from your aunt in Toronto when the purpose of your trip is to visit your best friend in Vancouver.
You should also consider the immigration status of the person in Canada when deciding who should write your letter. Your invitation should be extended by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Only in exceptional circumstances should you consider providing an invitation to visit Canada from an individual who has temporary status in Canada, as these applications have a low success rate.
If your main purpose is to visit Canada for a business meeting or event, then the organization that you will be spending time with should write the letter.
2. What information should the letter of invitation contain?
a. Details of the Applicant (You)
- full legal name
- date of birth
- exact address, telephone number, and email address
- relationship of the applicant to the person or organization writing the invitation letter
- purpose of the visit to Canada
- length of the visit including planned arrival and departure dates (can be approximate)
b. Details of the person or organization inviting the applicant
- full legal name
- date of birth
- current address and telephone number as well as email
- status in Canada (Canadian Citizen, Permanent Resident or Organization)
- occupation details of the inviter; spouse occupation if applicable
- names and dates of birth of spouse and children, if applicable
- total number of people that live in the household
c. Details of the intended visit to Canada
The letter of invitation needs to explain why you should be allowed to visit Canada. Be as specific as possible, being sure to include the emotional aspect of your request. Visa officers are people, and, in many cases, people are more motivated by emotion than by facts. If you are only including facts in your request, you are wasting the opportunity to connect with the visa officer on a basic human level.
We have some samples below to help you craft an invitation letter. Of course, these are only a guide to illustrate the detailed information and the emotional aspects you can include to persuade the visa officer about your intentions.
Not recommended: I want to invite my nephew to visit me in Toronto.
More appropriate: I want to invite my nephew to visit me in Toronto. I have a strong connection to my nephew because when he was younger, I was his primary caregiver for about 5 years due to the fact that his mother passed away during childbirth. I have not seen my nephew since I immigrated to Canada 10 years ago, but we keep in touch through regular video chats. I have missed him terribly during this time and he has grown and changed so much. He will be on his school break during the time I would like him to visit. I am not able to take sufficient time off from my work in order to make a trip back home to visit him. I will have two weeks of holidays while he is here visiting me. For the other two weeks, he will be spending time with my grown children and I will join them in the evenings and on weekends. It would mean so much to both of us to be able to reconnect in person after all of these years.
Not recommended: We would like our parents to visit us. We want to show them Canada.
More appropriate: We would like our parents to come and stay with us. We have recently had our first baby and we are having difficulty adjusting to life as new parents. We are on our own in Canada and our baby doesn’t like to sleep at night. The husband is exhausted because he is working two jobs and not getting much sleep, and the wife is feeling overwhelmed trying to manage everything. Our parents can teach us so many things about how to calm the baby and we would really appreciate an extra set of hands right now. We love our baby dearly, but we really need some help with this big life adjustment.
Obviously, you need to tailor your request to match the specific circumstances of your family; however, including details and emotion in the reasons will help the visa officer assess that the purpose of the visit is indeed genuine.
You also need to specify the practical arrangements for your trip, such as who will pay for all associated costs, where you will stay in Canada, and what activities you have planned.
3. Details as to why you will need to leave Canada and return to the country of origin
The biggest concern arising when visa officers assess visitor visas is the issue of whether the visitor will actually leave Canada at the end of their trip. This assessment is required under Canada’s immigration law. To help address those concerns, it is helpful to include detailed information on the reasons why you will need to return to your home country within a specific time frame, and include documents in the application to support this. Examples might be that you are expected back to work, to return to school, or you have some kind of other commitment or event taking place that requires your presence.
4. Additional info is required for Super Visa Applications
If you are applying for a Super Visa for your parents or grandparents to stay with you in Canada for up to 5 years, you also need to include the following in your invitation letter:
- a promise that you will be the one to provide financial support your parents during their stay
- a list of people who live in your household
5. Supporting Documents to include with an Invitation Letter
You need to back up whatever claims are made in the letter of invitation with supporting documents. If the person inviting you is your relative, then prove your relationship by means of birth or marriage certificates that link the two families. Also include any relevant document proving their status in Canada, such as a Canadian birth certificate, a Canadian citizenship card, or a PR card. Financial documents can include a letter from the inviter’s employment, income tax documents and bank records to show that they have the financial resources to host you.
If you have been invited by an organization, provide proof of that organization’s legitimacy with official business or non-profit documentation (website, business license, certificate of incorporation, etc.) along with proof of the event that you are invited to attend.
Invitation Letter for spouse, fiance, girlfriend or boyfriend
Inviting your spouse, fiance, or romantic partner to visit Canada seems like it should be a straightforward process; but the reality is that these applications have a very high rate of refusal. As a Canadian, we feel like we should have the right to host our significant other; however, Canadian immigration officials are first and foremost concerned with assessing whether or not the visa applicant has strong ties to their country of origin, so that they will leave Canada when it is time to do so. For an application to visit Canada involving a spouse or romantic partner to be successful, the overseas applicant must be able to demonstrate that they have a well-paying career and are relatively self-sufficient in their home country. A past history of travel to first world countries, personal savings, assets like property or vehicles are almost certainly required and need to be both explained in the Canada invitation letter as well as documented in the application for an approval to result. Although the Minister of Immigration announced in early 2023 that the department would start to be more lenient in processing visitor visas for spouse and common law partners of Canadians, in reality we have seen little change from the overseas visa posts.
Do I need a Canadian Invitation Letter Notarized?
In most cases, it is not necessary that an invitation letter is notarized. The most important aspect of the invitation letter is that it clearly and thoughtfully provides all of the information that the visa officer needs to assess the purpose and means of your trip. However, if you have previously been refused for a visitor visa to Canada and are preparing a new application with the intention that you will file for a Judicial Review of a refusal, then it would be important to submit a notarized invitation letter.
It is important that the person writing the letter signs it with a signature that matches the one on their ID document. It is also important that the facts detailed in your letter make sense and that they match the facts that you have detailed elsewhere in the application. For example, if you are saying that you will cover the costs of the trip, then your financial documents need to show that you have the amount of money that will be required.
The invitation letter can be viewed as a summary of your visa application in that it lays out the reasons why you want to visit Canada and also the practical details of how you will carry out your plans. A well thought out plan, accompanied by a well-documented invitation letter will result in a higher chance of approval than simply making an application and including only the forms and documents that are specified in the visitor visa document checklist.
The Way Immigration regularly works with visitor visa applications. We would be pleased to assist you with developing a visitor visa application that has the best possible chances for success so that you can enjoy all of the excitement of a reunion with your family members and loved ones in Canada.