Canada’s entry policy offers a range of options for international travelers, including visa-free entry, Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), and various types of visas catering to different travel purposes. Visa-free entry is available for citizens of specific countries, allowing them to enter Canada for short stays without obtaining a visa. These travelers must still carry a valid passport and meet other entry requirements.
For visa-exempt foreign nationals traveling to Canada by air, an eTA is required. The eTA is a streamlined, online process that grants eligible travelers permission to enter Canada without a traditional visa. In addition to visa-free entry and eTA, Canada offers various visa types. These include Temporary Resident Visas (TRVs) for tourists and business visitors, study permits for students, work permits for temporary workers, and permanent residency options for those wishing to live and work in Canada long-term.
By offering a range of entry options, Canada’s entry policy caters to the diverse needs of international travelers.
The entry process for Canada varies depending on the traveler’s nationality and the purpose of their visit. There are three main ways foreigners can enter Canada: visa-free entry, online Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), and visa application through embassies or consulates.
A Canadian eTA visa is an online entry requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals traveling to the country by air. This streamlined process involves completing an online form and paying a small fee. Upon approval, the eTA is electronically linked to the traveler’s passport, and it remains valid for up to five years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first.
The eTA allows for multiple short visits to Canada within the validity period.
For nationals who require a visa to enter Canada, the application process typically involves submitting an application form, providing the necessary supporting documents, and paying the appropriate fees. Depending on the Canada visa policy, applicants may need to attend an interview or provide biometric information.
Applications can be submitted in person or by mail to the designated Visa Application Centre (VAC) or the Canadian embassy/consulate in the applicant’s country of residence. Processing times vary depending on the visa type and the volume of applications.
U.S. citizens do not require an eTA or a visa to enter Canada. They, however, must possess appropriate identification, such as a valid US passport. Lawful permanent residents of the United States, holding valid status in the country, are also exempt from the eTA requirement.
These individuals must carry official proof of their status (or an equivalent status document) and a valid passport from their country of nationality (or a similar travel document). For a comprehensive list of documents required for lawful permanent residents of the U.S., refer to the relevant resource.
Foreign transit passengers are individuals who enter Canada for a short duration while en route to another destination. These travelers must follow specific entry procedures and requirements depending on their nationality and the purpose of their visit. Transit passengers are generally allowed to stay in Canada for up to 48 hours without leaving the transit area of the airport.
A visitor visa is required for travelers from visa-required countries who plan to visit Canada, even if their travel by air lasts less than 48 hours or if they intend to stay in Canada for over 48 hours while transiting. Those crossing the border by bus, car, train, boat, or cruise ship also need a visitor visa.
Travelers from visa-required countries need a Canadian transit visa if their international flight stops at an airport in the country en route to another country, if they will be connecting between two international flights at a Canadian airport, if they will transit through Canada in 48 hours or less, or if they do not have a valid visitor visa.
A Canadian eTA is necessary for air transit through Canada for travelers from eTA-required countries. However, an eTA is not needed for travelers entering Canada by train, bus, boat, or cruise ship, but they must carry the appropriate travel documents. To apply for an eTA, follow the relevant application process.
US citizens and lawful permanent residents can transit through Canada without a visa by air, car, bus, train, boat, or cruise ship, as long as they have the correct travel documents. Passport holders from certain countries, such as China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, or Taiwan (holders of passports without a personal identification number), may also be eligible to transit without a visa under specific conditions.
Canada offers multiple tourist entry options, including the eTA, tourist visa, and visa-free entry, contingent on the traveler’s nationality and circumstances.
The Canada eTA, an online entry requirement for visa-exempt foreign tourists flying to Canada, is a convenient option allowing multiple short visits following a simple application and small fee.
The tourist visa, or Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), is necessary for travelers from visa-required countries, with potential for an interview or biometrics depending on nationality and visa office requirements. Processing time varies.
Visa-free entry allows short visits (typically up to six months) for citizens from certain countries, like the US, who only need a valid passport and meet standard entry conditions.
Foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada as an employee or in search of work must obtain a work permit before arriving in the country. A work permit is a legal document that allows a foreign individual to work in Canada for a specified duration and under specific conditions.
To apply for a work permit, applicants typically need a job offer from a Canadian employer and, in most cases, a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The application process involves submitting the required documents and fees to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The validity of a work permit varies depending on the job contract and the applicant’s specific situation.
Canada’s top-notch education, diverse course options, and part-time work possibilities make it a popular destination for international students. Canadian universities and colleges offer high-quality education and research programs, attracting global interest. Students can also work up to 20 hours weekly during academic sessions and full-time on breaks, offering financial aid and work experience.
Foreign students must secure a Canadian study permit, serving as a student visa throughout their program. The process involves proof of acceptance from a designated learning institution, evidence of financial backing, and other necessary documents. The visa is generally valid for the program duration, plus 90 days for departure preparation or extension application.
American students, despite geographical proximity, also need a study permit, ensuring legal study rights in Canada and equal benefits with other international students.
Canada’s stable economy, supportive policies, skilled workforce, global market access, robust infrastructure, ease of business, and innovative reputation make it attractive to foreign businesspersons. However, depending on their origin and intent, these individuals may require a business visa, eTA, or start-up visa to conduct business in Canada.
The Canada business visa, a type of Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), is needed for short-term business activities like conferences or contract negotiations. It requires an invitation from a Canadian firm, proof of financial backing, and other documentation.
For air travel, citizens of eTA-required countries must apply for a Canada business eTA, an online process attached electronically to the passport and valid for five years or until passport expiration.
The Canada Start-up Visa Program invites innovative entrepreneurs to establish job-creating businesses in Canada. Applicants must secure backing from a designated Canadian organization and meet language and financial criteria. Successful candidates receive permanent residency, enabling them to contribute to the economy.
Foreign parents or grandparents of Canadian citizens or permanent residents can enter the country with a super visa. A Canada super visa is a long-term, multiple-entry visa, and it allows eligible visitors to stay in Canada for up to two years per visit without needing to renew their status. Applicants must meet specific requirements, including financial support, medical insurance, and a letter of invitation from their Canadian family.
Foreigners may find entering Canada with a criminal conviction can be challenging, as the country has strict policies regarding admissibility. Individuals with a criminal history may be deemed inadmissible and denied entry. However, there are options for overcoming inadmissibility, such as applying for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or Criminal Rehabilitation.
A TRP allows entry for a specific period, while Criminal Rehabilitation is a permanent solution that removes inadmissibility due to past convictions. To be eligible for either option, applicants must meet specific criteria and provide the necessary documentation. It is recommended to consult an immigration professional to navigate this complex process.
Foreign nationals can live, work, and study indefinitely in Canada as permanent residents (PRs), attainable via programs like Express Entry, Provincial Nominee, and Family Sponsorship. Eligibility for PR depends on factors like age, education, experience, language skills, and adaptability. The application process involves an expression of interest, and an invitation to apply if eligible, followed by a full application with supporting documents.
Successful applicants receive a Confirmation of Permanent Residence and a PR visa if needed. PRs have access to healthcare, education, social services, and can live and work anywhere in Canada. They must meet residency obligations and can eventually apply for citizenship under certain conditions.
Canada can be accessed by air, land, or water, each requiring different procedures. International airports such as Toronto Pearson, Vancouver, Montreal-Trudeau, and Calgary require travelers to present valid travel documents to border officers. Land entries through key border crossings, like the Peace Bridge, Pacific Highway Crossing, and Coutts-Sweetgrass Border Crossing, also require proper documentation.
Seaports like Vancouver, Montreal, and Halifax are used for entry via waterways, requiring passengers and crew to clear customs and immigration with appropriate travel documents.