Exchange Student Travel to Canada Info

This page contains information and links to assist with exchange student travel to Canada.

** NOTE - I have only gone through this Canadien Visa process once with Karina (Paraguay 13-14). If you notice any changes that are needed, or have additional info that may help others, please let me know. If your student does not need a Canadien Visa, the process is dramtically streamlined (and $100 less expensive). There are new items that have gone into effect July 31, 2018, so please make sure you check, and double-check everything. Thank you  - Steve.

Sponsored students (CBYX, YES, etc.) may have additional requirements, or may not be able to leave the U.S. at all, so please check prior to planning a trip to Canada.

The information below should always be verified with the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) web site to make sure you have the most up-to date information.

To travel to Canada, your exchange student will need:

  • Their Passport
  • DS-2019 (CERTIFICATE OF ELIGIBILITY FOR EXCHANGE VISITOR (J-1) STATUS - 2 pages, 8.5 x 11"). See additional  information in the paragraph below. This should be folded and kept with the passport (folded and stapled directly into the passport is good - make sure it can be unfolded to be easily read by the customs agent).
  • I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) - As of 2013, this document is electronic.
  • Canadian visa (IF REQUIRED as noted below).
  • In addition, if your student is under 18 years old and will be going with another friend or family member, you should give them a short letter that states that you are allowing them to travel to Canada. Note - the reverse is also true - If you are taking a student (or even a friend) and you are not their legal guardian, you should have a letter from their parent / host parent) stating that they are allowing them to travel to Canada with you. ( and, for minors:

When the students first arrive, we (the local AFS WNY team) retrieves each student's DS-2019 and sends them all to AFS New York where they have to be signed by an authorized AFS representative. Being a border city, we try to have these expidited as much as possible. If you planning on a trip to Canada with your student early in the year, let Ann know and she will get theirs back to you as soon as we get them back from AFS.

Next, check the below link to see if your student requires a Canadian Visa. Most European countries, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, and Chile (as of 2016) do not need one, but check to confirm.

If you do not need a Canadian Visa, you should be all set once you have your signed DS-2019 (2 pages). If you need a Canadian Visa, keep reading.....

I would recommend applying on-line as the time to get the Visa is considerably less than by mail.

The student will be appying for a Visitor Visa.

If you apply on-line, you will need:

  • access to a scanner or camera to create electronic copies of your documents to upload, and
  • a valid credit card to pay with.
Starting on February 6, 2014 (00:01 EST), all visa applicants will automatically be considered for a multiple entry visa. The visa officer reviewing your application may be able to give you this type of visa even if you applied for a single entry visa. As per the web site  
"A multiple entry visa allows visitors to come and go from Canada for six months at a time, without having to reapply each time. It can be valid for up to 10 years, or one month before your passport expires, whichever is earlier. You must arrive in Canada on or before the expiry date on your visa."

The fee for a Visitor Visa is $100 (Canadien).

From there, continue to fill out the various forms, get photos, and get the payment addressed. There is an option to pay on the internet and submit your receipt along with the other paperwork.

*** NOTE *** As of jULY 2018, some countries will require biometric information (fingerprints) to be included as part of te application process. The fee for this is an additional $85. See what countries are in scope and additional details in the "Biometric" link below.

The following is a "How to apply" link provided by the Canadian Immigratiion office:

Detailed information on the application process (including payments and filling out the forms) can be found at the following link:

The following is a document checklist of required documents that need to be sent in (yes, their passport has to be sent).

Make sure you fill out the application form (IMM5257) electronically AND VALIDATE it. Applications that are hand written will NOT be accepted. Following is a link to the actual application form:

Additional items that you will want to include to help prevent delays:
  • A notarized letter from your students natural parents stating that they authorize their child to obtain a Canadian Visa and to visit Canada. Since all the information is submitted electronically, you do not need a hard-copy original.
  • A letter from the school stating that your student is enrolled for the current school year from September through June is also required.

The CIC web site has a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page that answers many other questions.

Lastly, the Visa application link is:

Let me (Steve - know how your experience is or if there is any additional or different information would be helpful.

The support team below can also assist with questions.

Area Team Chair
Steve Sweet
c 716.583.0894

Support Coordinator
Doug Hinckley
c 716.866.7120

Support Coordinator
Ann Sweet
35 Wik Street
Williamsville, NY 14221
c 716.908.3019
h 716.626.0911

Support Coordinator
Al Hartman
14 Lillie Lane
Cheektowaga, NY 14227
c 716.698.8447

Support Coordinator
David Stitt
181 Jackson Avenue
North Tonawanda, NY 14120
c 716.471.5704



Get a notarized letter from the exchange student's natural parents stating that they authorize their child to obtain a Canadien Visa and to visit Canada. Mkae sure that their address and phones numbers are included in the letter.

Get a letter from the school (in the U.S.) stating that the student is enrolled at the school. If you get a hard copy, it will need to be scanned to submit electronically.

Write a letter stating that you are the students host parents, and that both you and their natural parents will be assiting them finacially, while they are visiting Canada. This would be to cover food, souveniers, etc. 

Fill in electronically and "Validate" the IMM5257 Visa application.

Have 2 passport pictures taken (or one digital). Details can be found at this link:

Address the payment either on-line or mail-in.

Include the student's passport (with DS-2019)

During the application process the following are supporting documents that were requested when we applied for Karina:

Letter of Support
Itinerary /Travel
Birth Registration / Certificate
Purpose of Travel - Other
Custody Documents
Passport or Travel Document
Proof of Financial Resources of Support
Proof of Means of Financial Support
Digital Photo
Parent Consent Letter
Travel History