I applied to consulate directly and did not go through VFS or any agent. While the detailed procedure can be found on http://www.cic.gc.ca and other websites, I would like to mention some tips here which might help you.
Note that these steps were followed by me and they do not represent steps required by you. Each case is different and refer to the official website for current information. This is not legal information.
- Apply online on http://www.cic.gc.ca. This will save fees on agencies like VFS
- The process is smooth if you have USA B1/B2 VISA. The form will ask you if you have one. If you don't have, you may be asked for more documentation
- When you answer questionnaire to determine eligibility, you will be given a reference number. Save that
- Have your scanned copy of passport ready.
- Use lower resolution while scanning the passport, however the passport must be clearly readable on a computer screen. You can skip blank passport pages from scan
- If you have expired passports, scan them together
- Use PDF format to scan so that all pages are in one document. If the PDF file resolution is not supported, the website will reject your upload. In this case, use Microsoft Word DOC format. You can paste all scans in DOC file and upload it.
- You need a valid VISA photo as per specifications. Scan this with higher resolution.
- Create an account on CIC website. I chose "Continue to GCKey" sign on option.
- Use the reference number saved earlier and create new application for VISA request
- You need to download two forms in PDF format IMM5257E and IMM5707E. These files do not open well in browser. Save them to your computer and open with Acrobat Reader application.
- Save changes to the files and make sure you click on "Validate" button in file at the end. Without validation the file wont be uploaded
- I had trouble at uploading these files again. So used DOC format here too.
- Upload passport again for travel history
- Submit application and pay online. You don't need to submit any physical document or passport yet.
- Be prepared to wait! After this, there is no response from website except to let you know that VISA application has been accepted. There is no "helpful" helpline. A nested menu choice and voice prompt will merely redirect you to website.
- The website has a selection to find out what is current wait period. This is pretty accurate. When I applied, the expected wait time was 22 calendar days. However it soon increased to 31 days. I was notified about next step exactly on 30th calendar day!
- If there are no issues with the application, you would receive notification asking you to submit your passport.
- You don't need to obtain an appointment.
- VFS is their partner and you will be asked to go and submit your passport to nearest VFS collection center.
- You need to carry the intimation letter, passport and money. VFS is merely an collection center. VFS will collect passport and provide you a payment receipt.
- This receipt is important to collect your passport back.
- At VFS, you have choice between collecting passport yourself or have it delivered to your home. If your house is under Blue Dart delivery network, choose to be delivered at home.
- If you choose to pickup from VFS office, there could be delay in getting notified, going there and pickup. This can delay more if there is a weekend in between.
- Now again wait! The passport is sent to Bengaluru and you would be asked to wait for 5-7 "working" days to get it back.
- Even though the intimation letter says, "we have made a decision", no one would confirm that VISA is granted till it is stamped. All this while, the online account will tell you that interview or additional documentation may be required
- The VISA will be stamped and delivered to your house. In my case I submitted on Thursday and it got delivered on next Wednesday.
- The receipt has a tracking number which you can use to track your application on "VFS" website. However, this tracking is not fully in sync with your actual status. It might tell you that application has been accepted and passport submitted to embassy. In my case, the passport got delivered first and then updates started flowing my mail after 2 days of delivery!
It took almost 40 days for entire process after form submission. But without interview and biometric or any additional documentation the VISA was granted.
Lets see how the actual travel goes. All the best for your application!