What you need to know about applying for a visa to Canada

Many academics fear and loath the process of applying for Visas. Most have heard horror stories about bad experiences, delays and rejected applications. Do these stories shed an honest light on the reality of applying for a visitor’s visa today? We asked David Manicom, Minister-Counsellor and Immigration Program Manager at the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi. He welcomed the chance to set the record straight and provided some quality advice on how to relax while applying for a visa into Canada.
David Manicom has worked as a foreign service officer for nearly 20 years. He has had assignments in Moscow, Islamabad, Beijing, Geneva, as well as at CIC National Headquarters, where he was Director, Operational Coordination, International Region from 2003-2006. Most recently, he served the head of Canada’s Humanitarian Affairs program in Geneva, and as Canada’s representative to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, and other international organizations.
Today, David Manicom oversees 175 to180 visa staff in the largest and busiest Canadian immigration office in the world, located in New Delhi. The office is currently at the end of its busiest season, when it can receive up to 800 applications for temporary visas every day and up to 400 permanent residency applications every week. During this time, Visa officers process 40 applications a day, making one visa decision every 15 minutes or less. Despite the obvious challenges, Manicom and his staff are committed to never falling behind in processing temporary visas.
“One of the largest misconceptions surrounding visa applications is that people tend to think the refusal rate is much higher than it is,” says Manicom. In reality, the temporary visa approval rate is 80-81 per cent. At least half of the cases that visa officers review every day are easy approvals. Still, Canada considers India a ‘high risk’ country due to the volume of Indians who attempt to immigrate illegally to Canada every year. Visa officers must follow protocol and use due diligence when considering any application.
One of David Manicom’s current priorities is to build a series of partnership frameworks to help low-risk visa applicants move more quickly through the system. The High Commission’s new Business Express Program partners with around 45 multi-national organizations to facilitate business travel. Manicom is working on a similar partnership with the Association of Community Colleges of Canada (ACCC) to help Indian students travel to Canada for college studies. “Canadian universities would be invited to join this partnership in the second stage,” he says, “but university faculty and students have long been recognized as low-risk temporary visa applicants so such a partnership may not be necessary.”
The Canadian High commission in New Delhi has made significant strides in the last few years to improve its services to the Indian people. In 2005, they established the network of visa application centres throughout India so that people need not submit their applications to the High Commission directly. The system has successfully been adopted by over 95 per cent of visa applicants and has vanquished the line-ups that used to form outside the High Commission at 2 o’clock in the morning every day. The Canadian High Commission in India is also one of the only Canadian High Commission Offices in the world to have a dedicated client services unit to answer emails and manage online information.
At the Shastri Institute, we hope that the visa application process never hinders genuine academic interactions between India and Canada. Applying for temporary visas to Canada should not be a stressful process. To learn more about how to reduce stress and gain confidence in your visa applications, please check out our helpful tips: