Visa application requirements for CanadaAre you planning to visit the vast and beautiful country of Canada, either as a tourist or to pursue some type of educational opportunity? Do you know the steps you will need to take beforehand that will allow you to legally enter the country? Every year, millions of people visit Canada to enjoy the many opportunities the country has to offer, including visiting family and friends, touring the wonderful sights, and/or studying at one of Canada’s world-class universities. Depending on the country in which you reside, however, there are certain entry requirements you will need to meet before entering the country. For some people, this will entail securing a visa and/or a study permit.
All people who plan to visit Canada, regardless of the purpose, will need to meet a few basic requirements. For example, to visit Canada, you must:
- Have a valid travel document, such as a passport.
- Be in good health.
- Be able to demonstrate to an immigration officer that you have ties—such as a job, home, financial assets or family—that will take you back to your home country.
- Convince an immigration officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your visit.
- Have enough money for your stay. (The exact amount of money you’ll need can vary. It depends on factors such as the length of your stay, and whether you will stay in a hotel, university quarters or with friends or relatives.)
- A tourist or temporary resident visa, depending on your citizenship.
- A medical examination
- A letter of invitation from someone who lives in Canada.
Citizens of certain countries and territories need a visa to visit or transit through Canada. Below is a comprehensive list of those countries and territories whose citizens require a tourist or temporary resident visa to enter Canada.
Countries and Territories Whose Citizens Need a Visa
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burma (Myanmar), Burundi, Cambodia, Cameron, Republic of Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Congo, Republic of Costa Rica, Republic of Cuba, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel - holders of valid Israeli “Travel Document in lieu of National Passport,” Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, North Korea, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Lithuania - holders of non-biometric passports only, Macao Special Administrative Region, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives Islands, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Palestinian Authority, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland - holders of non-biometric passports only, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Sao Tomé e Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (St. Vincent), Sudan, Surinam, Swaziland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Citizens of countries or territories not listed above do not require a temporary resident visa to enter Canada. Below is a list of the countries and territories whose citizens do not need a visa, otherwise known as “visa exemptions.”
Countries and Territories Whose Citizens Do Not (in Most Cases) Need a Visa to Enter Canada
Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, British citizens and British overseas citizens (A British citizen or a British overseas citizen who is re-admissible to the United Kingdom), British overseas territories citizens (A citizen of a British overseas territory who derives their citizenship through birth, descent, registration or naturalization in one of the British overseas territories of Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena or the Turks and Caicos Islands), British Overseas Nationals (Holder of a British National (Overseas) passport issued by the United Kingdom to persons born, naturalized or registered in Hong Kong), British Subjects (holder of a British Subject passport issued by the United Kingdom which contains the observation that the holder has the right of abode in the United Kingdom), British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Cayman Islands, Croatia, Cyprus. Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Falkland Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Holy See (holder of a passport or travel document issued by the Holy See), Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (holder of a valid and subsisting Special Administrative Region passport issued by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China), Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel (holders of national Israeli passport), Italy, Japan, Korea (South), Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montserrat , Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn, Poland, Portugal, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, St. Helena, St. Kitts and Nevis, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan (holders of the ordinary passport issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taiwan that includes their personal identification number), Turks and Caicos Islands, United States (citizens and permanent residents - A United States citizen or a person lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence who is in possession of their alien registration card (Green card) or can provide other evidence of permanent residence).
Important to remember is that while you may not need a temporary resident visa to legally enter Canada, you must still possess the proper travel documents and identification, particularly a passport from your country of residence. You must also be able to demonstrate to an immigration officer that you satisfy all other requirements to enter Canada. For example, you may need a medical exam before arriving. If you do not meet all the requirements, you may not be allowed to enter.
Additionally, some people are inadmissible, meaning they are not allowed to come to Canada for any reason. Several factors can make an individual inadmissible, including involvement in criminal activity, in human rights violations or in organized crime. You can also be inadmissible for security, health or financial reasons.
To find out what else you may need to know before you come to Canada, please visit the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration website.
Applying for a Tourist or Temporary Resident Visa
If you hail from a country or territory in which a temporary resident visa is needed, there are a few ways you can apply. The Canadian Immigration website says individuals can apply online or on paper by printing out the application and mailing it in. You can also apply by visiting the Canadian embassy or consulate in your country of residence, or by visiting one of the visa application centers in the country or territory in which you live. All applicants will have to pay the required visa processing fee at the time they submit their visa application.
Fingerprints and Biometrics
You should also be aware that according to a new policy, instituted in late 2013, citizens from 29 countries and 1 territory will need to give biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) when they apply for a visa. These regions include:
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Vietnam, Yemen.
If you are from one of the countries or territory listed above, you do not need to give your biometrics to visit Canada if you are:
- Under 14 years old or 80 years old and over.
- A diplomat, consular officer, representative, or official of a country, the United Nations or any of its agencies, any intergovernmental organization of which Canada is a member.
- Travelling to Canada on official business (any family members travelling with you are also exempt).
- Applying for a visa to transit through Canada for less than 48 hours, directly to or from the United States and you hold a valid United States entry visa.
- Already in Canada and are eligible to apply for a visitor (temporary resident) visa, study permit or work permit to an office in Canada.
When you apply for a visitor visa, study permit or work permit, you have to pay an application fee. You may also need to pay a biometric fee of $85 CAD per person. Families applying together for a visitor visa pay a maximum biometric fee of up to $170 CAD.
You can pay both your application fee and the biometric fee the same way. The website of the visa office that serves the country or region you are applying from has more information on fees, including how to pay them.
Make sure you pay all the correct fees when you submit your application to avoid any delays in processing.
Note: If you submit your application in person at a visa application centre (VAC) before the effective date for your specific country, you do not need to pay the $85 CAD biometric fee and you will get certain VAC application services at no cost. Visa application centre (VAC) application services included in the biometric fee:
If you submit your application in person at a VAC, the biometric fee covers the cost of collecting your biometrics and handling your application. This includes making sure your application is complete, sending it to the visa office and telling you when your passport or travel documents have been sent back.
Tips for After You Apply for a Temporary Resident Visa
Most visa applications for visiting Canada are processed in a few weeks or less, although processing times vary depending on your country of residence. Remember, if you need a visitor or tourist visa, you will also need a valid travel document, such as a:
- Valid passport,
- Travel document, or
- Certificate of identity.
After you send your application, the visa office will review it to make sure it is complete and it has all the documents needed. A visa officer will decide if you need an interview. If you do, the visa officer will tell you the time and place. If your application is refused, the visa office will return your passport and other documents to you. They will also explain why they refused your application. If you sent false documents, they will not be returned to you.
Certain individuals need a medical exam prior to entering Canada. If they do, a visa officer will tell them how to proceed. If you need a medical exam, it might take longer to process your application, because you will need time to set up and go to an appointment, and the doctor will need time to send the results to the visa officer.
Preparing for Your Arrival in Canada
When you arrive in Canada, a border services officer will greet you. The officer works for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The CBSA protects Canada's borders and points of entry. The officer will ask to see your passport or travel documents. If you applied for a parent or grandparent super visa, you will have other documents to give to the officer. Make sure that you have them with you and that they are not packed in your luggage. This will speed up your entry into Canada.
Even if you do not need a visa to enter Canada, the officer will ask you a few questions. The officer will make sure that you meet the requirements to enter Canada. This should only take a few minutes. You will not be allowed into Canada if you give false or incomplete information. You must convince the officer that you are eligible for entry into Canada. You will also have to convince the officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your approved stay.
In some cases, an immigration officer may ask you to post a bond in the form of a cash deposit. This bond helps to ensure that you will follow certain rules during your visit to Canada (for instance, leaving Canada when the time approved for your stay is over). The Government of Canada will never ask you to deposit money into a personal bank account or to transfer money through a specific company. If you need to post a bond in the form of a cash deposit, the officer fixes the deposit amount based on your financial resources and other conditions set out in Canada's immigration law.
Children under 18 should have valid identification with them. If you are travelling with a child and you are not the child's parent or guardian, you should have a letter from the child's parent or guardian approving entry into Canada. If you are the child's only guardian, you should have documents to show there is no other guardian (for example, a birth certificate that does not identify the father).
The officer will stamp your passport and let you know how long you can stay in Canada. The period is usually six months. In some cases, the officer may limit this period to cover only the planned purpose of your visit. Ask questions if you are not sure about anything.
If you do not obey the conditions of your visa, you will be asked to leave Canada. Most people asked to leave Canada have the right to a fair hearing to review the decision.
Student Visa/Study Permit
If you plan to study in Canada, perhaps as part of a study abroad program or student exchange, keep in mind that most foreign-born visitors to Canada will need to obtain a study permit in addition to their other travel documents.
Before you can apply for a study permit, you must have been accepted at a school, university or college in Canada. You will also need to possess the right documents, such as proof of your acceptance, proof of identity, proof of financial support and a letter explaining your study or academic intentions.
To be eligible to study in Canada:
- You must have been accepted by a school, college, university or other educational institution in Canada.
- You must prove that you have enough money to pay for your tuition fees, living expenses for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada and return transportation for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada.
- You must be a law-abiding citizen with no criminal record and not be a risk to the security of Canada. You may have to provide a police certificate.
- You must be in good health and willing to complete a medical examination, if necessary.
- You must demonstrate to an immigration officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your authorized stay.
In some cases, you do not require a study permit to go to school in Canada. Below are a few instances in which a study permit is not required.
- If you wish to study in a short-term course or program—six months or less—you do not need a study permit. You must complete the course or program within the period authorized for your stay in Canada. Even if you do not need a study permit, it is a good idea to apply for a permit before you come to Canada. If you decide that you want to continue your studies in another program after you complete your short-term course or program, you must apply through a Canadian visa office outside Canada for a study permit if you do not already have one.
- If you are a family member or staff member of a foreign representative to Canada accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD), you may not need a permit to study in Canada. If you have questions, you can contact your embassy in Canada, which can connect you with the Office of Protocol at DFATD to find out whether you need a study permit.
- If you are a member of a foreign armed force under the Visiting Forces Act, you do not need a permit to study in Canada. If your family members, including minor children, want to study in Canada, they must meet the requirements.
As with the temporary resident visa, those seeking a study permit can apply either by mail or online. In order to qualify, you may have to provide:
- Medical Information. In most cases, you will need a medical examination. A visa officer will send you instructions if you need one. This may add more than three months to the processing time of your application.
- Security information. If you want to study in Canada, you and any family members who come to Canada with you, and who are 18 years of age and over, may have to provide police certificates.
If your application is complete, the visa office will review it and decide if an interview is necessary. If so, the officer will inform you of the time and place.
If you move or change your address, telephone number or any other contact information after you submit your student permit application, you must notify the visa office where you submitted your application.
If your application is approved, you will receive the following information:
- A letter of introduction confirming the approval. This letter is not your study permit. Bring the letter of introduction with you to show to immigration officials at the point of entry when you arrive in Canada.
- A temporary resident visa (TRV) will be issued if you are from a designated country for which Canada requires a visa. The TRV will be in your passport. The expiration date on this visa indicates the date by which you must enter Canada. You must enter Canada before your TRV expires. The TRV will also indicate if you can enter Canada only once (a single-entry visa) or if you can enter Canada multiple times (a multiple-entry visa).
- You have not shown proof that you have enough money to support yourself while studying in Canada.
- You have not passed the medical examination (if one was required).
- You have not adequately proved to the visa officer that your primary intention in Canada is to study.
- You have not satisfied the visa officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your period of study.
When you arrive in Canada with the purpose of studying, you will be met by an officer from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at a point of entry, such as an airport. The CBSA is responsible for border and point of entry activities in Canada. It is here that you will produce the documents you need to legally enter the country, including your passport, student permit and temporary resident visa, if required.