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I'm helping someone with a Canadian visitor visa application. The person in question resides in Russia, unfortunately doesn't have a bank account (and for various reasons doesn't want one), and keeps her savings as cash (mostly in US dollars). I'm trying to figure out a way to prove the existence of this cash to Canadian authorities. The best option I came up with so far is to open a USD bank account in one of the Russian banks, deposit the funds, get a statement, then withdraw the funds and close the account. However, the person in question is elderly and knowing her I'm concerned that she'd be stressed and intimidated by the level of bureaucracy involved, possible hidden account fees, the number of required trips to the bank, etc. So I'm wondering about other options, e.g.:

  1. Is it possible to buy traveler's cheques in Russia, that would be accepted in Canada? These would be ideal, because they would have her name, and a scan of the cheques would provide evidence of both the availability of funds and some evidence of her intent to use the funds for travel.
  2. Is there some equivalent of a money order in Russia? I.e. something that she could buy with minimum hassle without opening any accounts (ideally denominated in USD), scan and then cash it right away with minimum hassle.
  3. Finally, I thought of just submitting a photograph of her holding the USD bills. Is this a horrible idea?
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    As to (3), it didn't work out so good for 50 Cent, so I wouldn't suggest it for your friend either. – Nate Eldredge Aug 9 '16 at 19:08
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    How old is she? If she's already of retirement age, can you sponsor her? – George Y. Aug 11 '16 at 0:22
  • This is for a short-term visitor visa. There is no concept of sponsorship for Canadian visitor visas. The inviting party can state that they will take on all expenses related to the trip, and such a statement does have some weight, but technically the onus is still on the visa applicant to prove their financial status. – Eugene O Aug 11 '16 at 1:22
  • Yes, this is what I meant. If she is a retiree from Russia, the Consulate would know she might have limited funds as the pensions are low. Thus stating one would cover all her expenses would be better than trying to convince the Consulate she keeps lots of cash at home. Why? It will fit the reality in Russia, and would avoid explaining why doesn't she have a bank account, with corresponding suspicions. Just my 2 cents. – George Y. Aug 11 '16 at 5:18
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  1. Yes, she can buy American Express Traveler Checks in Russia, and they would be accepted in Canada. The particular bank charges 2% commission, but she might find one which charges 1%.

    Note, however, that this is not much better than having cash in hand in terms of proving she got funds. She can borrow $1000 from a friend, buy checks, go to embassy, then go to bank and cash those checks the next day.

  2. As far as I know, none.

  3. This doesn't prove at all the money belong to her.

She also would have to explain why she doesn't have a bank account. A consulate officer might suspect her income comes from illegal activities, or she's hiding it from taxation. Canada cares a lot about "being good moral character", so she should be able to address this.

Does she have a job, or had a job recently and has savings from it? She can go to her accounting department ("buhgalteria") and ask for the official salary statement ("spravka o zarplate"). She can do this even if she left the company. This would prove both that she has funds, and that they came from a legitimate source.

  • Your last questions should probably be comments to the original Q – blackbird Aug 10 '16 at 15:38
  • Right on. Moved it there. – George Y. Aug 11 '16 at 0:22

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