When a foreigner wants to visit Canada as a tourist, they must be granted temporary resident status upon arriving in Canada. Depending on the country of citizenship, a person may first have to obtain a temporary resident visa before being allowed to travel. In such cases applications to Canadian consulates are made for either single entry or multiple-entry visas. These visas, despite validity dates of sometimes twelve months or more, only grant legal status in Canada for six months at a time. Extensions are possible to obtain from within Canada as long as the visa holder does not exit Canada.
Individuals with passports from visa exempt countries are not required to obtain consular approval before arriving in Canada. Their entry to Canada will be determined at the border by a Canadian Border Services Agency officer. However, they may be required to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) if they are flying to Canada.
For a complete list of passport holders from countries requiring a visa to enter Canada, click here. Please note the Goverment of Canada changes and updates this list from time to time.
Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)
An individual from a visa-exempt country who is flying to or transiting through Canada is now required to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) before arriving in Canada. Exceptions include United States nationals, travellers with a valid Canadian visa, and individuals with valid work, study, or visitor permits seeking to re-enter Canada after solely visiting the United States.
When applying for an eTA, you will be required to complete an online form by providing basic personal information and answering questions related to criminality and medical admissibility. The eTA is electronically linked to your passport (i.e. no separate document will be provided to you) and will be valid for a period of five years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.
Parent and Grandparent Super Visa
Parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens or permanent residents may be eligible for a Super Visa if they can provide proof of sufficient financial support by their child or grandchild and proof of Canadian medical insurance coverage. A Super Visa differs from an ordinary multiple-entry visa in that Super Visa holders can remain in Canada for up to 2 years (instead of 6 months) without needing to apply for an extension of their visitor status. Because of the long processing times of Parental Sponsorship Applications, many parents and grandparents choose to travel to Canada as visitors under a Parent and Grandparent Super Visa while their Sponsorship Applications are being processed.
In addition to the general requirements for a temporary resident visa to Canada, individuals applying for a Super Visa must provide the following supporting documentation:
- Proof that your child or grandchild is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident currently residing in Canada
- Proof that your child or grandchild in Canada meets the Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) figure for his or her family size
- A statement of financial support from your child or grandchild in Canada
- Proof of valid Canadian medical insurance coverage for at least one year from your arrival in Canada
- Proof of that you have completed an immigration medical examination
Business Visitor Visas
Business visitor visas allow foreigners to work in Canada without a work permit, subject to certain limiting conditions. In order to qualify as a business visitor, individuals must demonstrate that they are entering Canada to pursue business activities that fall outside of the Canadian labour market. The principal place of business must remain outside of Canada and their primary source of remuneration must also originate from outside Canada. Business visitors must maintain a foreign residence and be paid by an entity outside Canada.
The business visitor category is wide in scope, but not every activity qualifies for a business visitor visa. Qualifying examples include entering Canada to perform after-sales service contracts, general service contracts, activities related to research and design, growth, manufacture and production, marketing, sales, and distribution. Trainers, Intra-company training, and installation activities are also covered.
It is important to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer to determine if the scope of intended business activities falls within the parameters of a business visitor visa or whether a work permit is in fact required.
Click on the links on the right hand column learn more about temporary visas.