Write an Invitation Letter for a ‘Distant’ Relative

Carole’s estranged father Jaden lives in Trinidad’s capital city, Port of Spain, and plans to travel to Hamilton to visit. He’s asked her to email a letter of invitation. What would you do if you were Carole*?

Entering Canada From Afar

Like many foreign nations where Canadians have relatives, Trinidad and Tobago residents have to get a visitor visa or apply for a temporary resident visa to enter Ontario. Passports, biometrics (photos and fingerprints for first-time visitors), return tickets and proof of financial independence can all be required to get in.       

Getting a Super Visa

Let’s suppose Jaden has a return plane ticket, but he’s not rich by any means. He hopes to get a super visa to stay in Canada and visit his grandchildren. The visa allows parents and grandparents to live in Ontario for up to two years at a time and make multiple trips without reapplying. It’s good for up to 10 years. 

Providing Proof of Financial Support

But first, Carole must give a written promise to financially support her father for his entire stay. To do that, she has to prove she makes at least $48,167 annually (2020 figures) to support herself, her two children and Jaden. The sum is her LICO (low-income cut-off) score. If she makes less than the cut-off, he won’t be eligible for a super visa.

Your Obligations for Visiting Relatives

What if Carole is unsure she wants her father hanging around their home that long? Maybe she thinks he’s a bad influence or, at least, an interfering grandparent. But Jaden promises to go back to Port of Spain before the two years expires. He stalls applying for a visitor visa or super visa because he wants that letter of invitation. Carole may be torn. Could be she can’t afford to support him financially and doesn’t want to be liable if he doesn’t leave on time. 

Agreeing to Write a Letter of Invitation

Carole’s in luck. She’s not legally responsible for anyone she invites to Ontario. But she must keep any undertakings she makes in her letter, like providing a place to stay or supporting Jaden financially if she agrees to his super visa application. The document must be honest, written in good faith and signed. Having it notarized beforehand by an Ontario notary public prevents delays in case a foreign visa officer requires an official copy.

Visa Approval Is Up to Canada

It’s up to local Canadian embassies whether to issues visas. Applicants must satisfy Canadian immigration law. While having a letter of invitation can be helpful, it’s not a guarantee a relative or friend will get in. So if Carole is still uncertain, she can say so in her letter of invitation. Jaden might get a visitor visa of up to 180 days, instead of a super visa. They can talk it over when he gets here.

What’s in a Letter of Invitation

Canadian citizens or permanent residents (PR) who write a letter of invitation must include information about the person they’re inviting:

  • their complete name, date of birth and relationship
  • address and phone number
  • why they are travelling to Canada
  • how long they will stay and where
  • how they will pay for their stay
  • and when they plan to leave Canada.

Add the following information about yourself:

  • your complete name and date of birth
  • address and phone number
  • job title
  • citizenship (Canadian or PR), with photocopied proof such as a Canadian birth certificate, citizenship card, PR card or IMM 1000 proof of landing
  • family details, including complete names and dates of birth for spouses or dependents
  • and how many people live in your household.

Sending Super Visa Documents

For Jaden’s super visa application, Carole would also have to attach any PR travel documents (visa counterfoil), visa-exempt foreign passport or IRCC Special Authorization for Canadian Citizens. Jaden would require satisfactory proof he’s related to her, such as his marriage certificate, birth registration records or certified true copies of legal documents showing their family relationship. Carole should be prepared that visa officers do background checks. 

Reasons for Visa Denial

Visas can be denied for many reasons:

1. Criminal activity or security threats.

2. Human or international rights violations.

3. Health or financial concerns.

4. Suspected misrepresentation.

5. Failing to comply with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

6. Or other family members are inadmissable to Canada.

How to Forward an Invitation Letter

Jaden asked for an emailed copy. But if Carole has the letter notarized, she is required to mail or courier it. That shows the Canadian embassy the notary seal and stamp are authentic. Having Canada Post or a courier track the letter is proof it arrived.

Submitting the Letter With a Visa Application

If Jaden gets that notarized letter, he can include it in his temporary visa application when he finally drops it off at the Canadian embassy in Port of Spain. A letter shows he has immediate family in Canada, making the case for a longer stay than the usual 180 days. If Carole consents.  

Notarize a Letter of Invitation

Axess Law’s Ontario notary publics can notarize a letter of invitation via a virtual video call. Arrange  a day or evening video conference appointment, 7 days a week, by dialing toll-free to 877-522-9377 or in Greater Toronto at 647-479-0118 or using our online booking form. Drop-in appointments can be made at our Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices.

Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s notary public services.

Photo by Rajesh Balouria | Pixabay.*Hypothetical example.