Canadian Visitor Visa
If you are a citizen of a visa-exempt country you will need only an electronic Travel Authorization instead of a Visitor Visa. In this article we will cover the following topics:
A Visitor Visa (VV), also referred to as a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or Entry Visa, is an official document that is stuck in your passport and it gives you permission to enter Canada and stay in the country on a temporary basis. The TRV proves that you meet the requirements for admission to Canada.
There are two types of Visitor Visa:
- Multiple entry visa: A multiple entry visa allows you to enter and leave Canada many times. All visa applicants are automatically considered for multiple entry visas. A multiple entry visa lets you stay in Canada for up to six months at a time, as many times as you want. It will be valid for up to 10 years, or one month before your passport expires, whichever occurs first.
- Single entry visa: A single entry visa allows you to enter Canada only once for a stay of up to six-months. You may be issued a single entry visa in the following cases:
- You are taking part in a one-time special event in Canada;
- The purpose of your entry to Canada is limited (such as, for an official visit);
- There are country-specific procedures for your country of citizenship.
However, note that during your six months stay, you will not need a new Visitor Visa to return to Canada if you travel to the United States (including its Territories and Possessions) or to St. Pierre and Miquelon and return back from there.
The Visitor Visa is automatically issued to persons who have received a Canadian Work Permit or Study Permit. This means that Work Permit or Study Permit holders do not need to apply separately for the Visitor Visa.
There is a specific type of Visitor Visa called the Super Visa. This visa is for parents or grandparents of Canadian citizens or permanent residents; it allows them to visit their children or grandchildren for a longer period of upto 2 years at a time (instead of just six months for a regular Visitor Visa).
What is an “aliens passport''?
An aliens passport or a certificate of identity is a travel document issued to permanent residents of Canada who are not yet Canadian citizens and who either a) are otherwise stateless, or b) can't get a national passport or travel document from any source for a valid reason.
Persons who have obtained a Canadian Work Permit or Study Permit need to have a Visitor Visa to enter Canada. However, such individuals do not need to apply for a Visitor Visa separately. The VV will be issued for them automatically, together with their permits.
For citizens of visa-exempt countries, only an electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is necessary to enter Canada and a visa is not required. Almost all citizens of visa-exempt countries need an eTA. The eTA is explained below.
Transit through Canada
Please note that if you are from a visa-required country and your international flight stops at a Canadian airport on its way to another country, or you will be connecting between 2 international flights at a Canadian airport, you also need a type of Visitor Visa known as a Transit Visa.
You must apply for the Transit Visa ahead of your flight.
An Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is an entry requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals travelling to Canada by air. The eTA is electronically linked to a traveller’s passport. The eTA is not a physical document, but an electronic authorization to fly to Canada without a visa.
Obtaining an eTA
To receive an eTA you must:
- Submit an application via the Government of Canada website;
- Pay your application fees online: The eTA costs CAN $7 per person. You can only apply and pay for one person at a time.
- Check your email: You will receive the official eTA by email.
At check-in, your airline will determine whether you have a valid eTA that is linked to your passport number. Your eTA will also be checked upon arrival in Canada. The procedure for obtaining an eTA is described below. The eTA system is used in order to exclude undesirable persons and it helps keep air traffic safe.
The eTA is valid for up to five years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. If you get a new passport, you need to get a new eTA. The validity period starts from the moment your application is approved. Within the validity period of the eTA, you can travel to Canada an unlimited number of times. Each stay can last up to six consecutive months.
Here you may find a list of visa-exempt countries; nationals of these countries must apply for eTA if they travel to Canada by air. Note that visa-exempt foreign nationals do not need the eTA if they are arriving by car, bus, train, or boat (including a cruise ship); it is required only if they are traveling to Canada by air.
Furthermore, some categories of visitors are exempt from the eTA and can enter Canada with other documents:
- US citizens are exempt from the eTA requirement but must carry proper identification such as a valid U.S. passport;
- French citizens who live in Saint Pierre and Miquelon and are flying directly to Canada from St. Pierre and Miquelon (need a valid French passport);
- Diplomats accredited by the Government of Canada (need to have valid credentials);
- Flight crew, civil aviation inspectors, accident investigators who are or will be working while in Canada (need to prove the fact of their temporary employment in Canada), etc.
An eTA is issued significantly faster than a Visitor Visa, on average in three days after submitting the application. However, in an emergency, you may be issued an eTA in 18 minutes.
You just need to indicate that your request is an urgent one and clarify why while applying via the governmental e-portal.
This data from the 2020 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration shows the recent number of Visitor Visas (or Temporary Resident Visas) and eTAs issued:
There are some basic requirements to apply for a Visitor Visa in Canada. You must:
- Have a valid travel document (passport, etc.);
- Have enough money for the duration of your stay;
- Have no criminal or immigration-related convictions in any country;
- Be in good health; and
- Be admissible to Canada.
There are several factors that can make you inadmissible to Canada; such as criminal activity, human rights violations, organized crime, security risks, and health and financial reasons.
Please note that from September 7, 2021, Canada has introduced additional COVID-related requirements for all foreign nationals who want to visit Canada. These requirements are temporary as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there is no expected date on which the requirements will be terminated or cancelled. So, to be eligible for a Canadian Visitor Visa or eTA, a person must:
- Have received the full series of an approved COVID-19 vaccine (Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Janssen, or AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD);
- Have received the last dose at least 14 days prior to arrival in Canada;
- Upload the proof of vaccination in the special mobile application ArriveCAN;
- If selected, take a randomized COVID test upon arrival to Canada.
Persons can apply either online via the government website, or by paper. Applying online is strongly recommended; it’s faster and more secure. Here is a step-by-step guide to applying for the Canadian Visitor Visa:
- Step 1: Check your COVID-eligibility to travel to Canada;
- Step 2: Get the documents that show you meet the COVID-19 travel eligibility and criteria for a Visitor Visa;
- Step 3: Submit your application either online or by paper;
- Step 4: Pay the required fees online;
- Step 5: Wait for approval.
Please note that if you are visiting Canada as a family, you must complete a separate application for each family member, including dependent children. However, all applications must be submitted together at the same time.
If you want to extend your stay in Canada as a visitor you need to apply for a Visitor Record. Please note that a Visitor Record is not a visa.
The Visitor Record is a document that gives you status as a visitor in Canada and allows you to stay longer than the date allowed by your Visitor Visa. It Includes a new expiry date (the new date by which you must leave Canada). The Visitor Record is for people who want to
- Extend their stay in Canada as a visitor, or
- Change their permit type from a Study Permit to a Visitor Record or a Work Permit to a Visitor Record
If you want to extend your stay as a visitor or change your status (from international student or worker to visitor, for example), you should apply at least 30 days before your current status expires.
Take careful note: a Visitor Record is a document that continues to give you status as a visitor in Canada and allows you to stay longer, but it does not guarantee that you can leave and then re-enter Canada. Thus, If you plan to travel outside Canada or the United States, you will need a valid entry document, such as a Visitor Visa or eTA, to return to Canada.
Although the Canadian government welcomes temporary visitors to Canada, you must meet specific requirements. If you are interested in obtaining this visa for yourself or for your family, please ensure that all applications are filled out accurately and completely. If you need help in preparing a clear and accurate application package that will improve your likelihood of success, contact us; our team of experts will be glad to assist. The importance of providing clear, complete, and accurate information throughout the process cannot be overstated. Our team will help you choose the right application that is appropriate for your circumstances, prepare all necessary documents, assist in any credentials assessments, help in preparing the applications, and follow up until the visa decision is obtained.
If you are unsure about your likelihood of success, contact us for a free evaluation. We can give you a realistic assessment of your chances of success and assist you in developing the best strategy for a successful outcome.