Canada is a country which provides abundant opportunities for work, business, education and not to mention the beautiful places that the tourists get to enjoy. The multi-cultural society, vivid places, flexible government policies make Canada an ideal tourist destination allowing thousands of individuals to visit every year under the Canada Visitors Visa. A visitor visa, also referred to as a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), is an immigration document that allows foreign nationals to travel to and enter Canada. Unless you are from a visa-exempt country, you will need a visitor visa to enter Canada whether you are coming as a student, temporary worker, or simply to visit.
There are two types of Canadian visitor visas:
- Single Entry Visas
- A single-entry visa allows foreign nationals to enter Canada for one-time only.
- Multiple Entry Visas
- A multiple entry visa allows holders to enter and leave Canada as often as they want as long as the visa is valid. You don’t need to choose which kind to apply for, applicants are automatically considered for multiple entry visas and are only issued single entry visas under unique circumstances.
Multiple entry visitor visas permit the holder to travel to Canada for six months at a time as many times as they want, as long as the visa remains valid. They can be valid for up to 10 years, but the exact validity period is at the discretion of the visa officer issuing it. If you have some other status document, such as a study permit or a work permit, and are not otherwise visa-exempt, you will automatically be issued a visitor visa allowing you to enter Canada to receive your permit. Usually, this is a multiple entry visa. If you choose to temporarily leave Canada during the course of your studies or temporary work, you will not need to apply for a new visitor visa to re-enter Canada as long as your permit and visa are both still valid.
Do you require Visitor Visa?
Everyone who wants to enter Canada who is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, or otherwise visa-exempt, requires a visitor visa. Canadian permanent residents are not permitted to apply for a visitor visa, even if their permanent resident card has expired. They must instead apply for a permanent resident travel document (PRTD). Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, are also not permitted to apply for a visitor visa. They must be travelling on a valid Canadian passport. If you are transiting through or coming to Canada for business, not as a temporary foreign worker, you may need a business visitor visa.
The only people, other than Canadian citizens and permanent residents, who do not require a visitor visa to enter Canada are individuals who are visa-exempt. Canada has agreements with several countries that exempt citizens of those nations from requiring a visa to visit Canada for a period of up to six months. If foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries wish to visit Canada by air, they require a valid electronic travel authorization (eTA).
If they choose to visit by land or by sea, they only require their valid passport issued by a visa-exempt country. The only exception is citizens of the United States. The Canada-U.S. border is the longest undefended land border in the world, and thousands of Canadian and U.S. citizens cross that border every day. U.S. citizens are able to travel to Canada on a valid U.S. passport, and do not require a visitor visa or eTA, provided they are not staying for a period longer than six months. U.S. permanent residents, or Green Card holders, are visa-exempt regardless of their country of citizenship. They require an eTA to fly to or transit through a Canadian airport, and must present a valid Green Card and a valid passport to enter Canada.
How to Apply?
Applicants who need a visitor visa to enter Canada can apply online, with a paper application, or in person at a Visa Application Center (VAC). If you are travelling as a family, each family member, including dependent children, must complete their own application. However, you may submit all of the applications together. Applicants may be required to include biometric information in their application, depending on their country of citizenship. If biometrics are required, the applicant will need to provide their fingerprints and photograph at a biometric collection service point. Biometrics can be collected after submitting the visitor visa application when you are prompted to do so, or at the same time as submission if submitting in person at a Visa Application Center (VAC).
Extending a Visitor Visa
Visitor visas, whether single entry or multiple entry, allow foreign nationals to legally live in Canada for up to six months at a time. At the end of this period, your legal status will expire and you must leave Canada. Foreign nationals who would like to extend their stay beyond six months must apply to do so while their temporary resident status is still valid. You should apply for an extension at least 30 days before your status will expire. If your current visa expires while your extension application is still being processed, you may remain in Canada while waiting for a decision to be made on implied status. You can also apply for permanent resident status, if you are eligible for one of Canada’s immigration programs.
Super visas are a type of Canadian visitor visa that are only available to parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens or permanent residents. The biggest difference between a super visa and a visitor visa is the length of time you are allowed to stay in Canada. Normally, a visitor visa can be valid for a stay of up to 6 months. To prolong your stay in Canada you need to apply to extend your visa. With a super visa, you may be able to stay in Canada for up to two years at a time without needing to apply for an extension.
How to Apply for a Super Visa?
You can apply for a super visa online, or by submitting a paper-based application. In either case, you must prove that you are the parent or grandparent of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Your application needs to include a letter of invitation from your child or grandchild that includes plans for your care and information about the number of people living in their household in Canada. You will also be required to demonstrate that you have private health insurance from a Canadian insurance company valid for at least one year. Your child or grandchild will also be required to demonstrate that they have enough funds to support you during your visit by meeting the Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) minimum for their family unit size.
Super Visa for Visa-Exempt Visitors
Depending on their country of citizenship, some foreign nationals do not require a visitor visa to visit Canada. These are referred to as visa-exempt visitors. Visa-exempt visitors are only allowed to remain in Canada for a period of up to six months without renewing their status. So, parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are visa-exempt may still want to apply for a super visa. This will allow them to remain in Canada for up to two years at a time, increasing the time they can spend with their loved ones in Canada.
Visa-exempt parents and grandparents who apply for a super visa have to follow the same application procedure detailed above. However, successful applicants will be issued a letter to present to the border services officer when they enter Canada, which authorizes their stay, instead of a visa. Visa-exempt visitors who travel to Canada by air are required to apply for an electronic travel authorization (eTA), even if they have successfully applied for a super visa.
Super Visa Extensions
Super visas allow holders to remain in Canada for up to two years. If you want to stay in Canada for longer than two years, you must apply to extend your stay. You should submit your extension application no later than 30 days before your current status expires. If your current visa expires while your extension application is still being processed, you may remain in Canada while waiting for a decision to be made.
Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship
As an alternative to the super visa, which allows holders to stay in Canada temporarily, you may wish to pursue permanent immigration through the Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship program.
Business visitor visa is different from a Canadian work permit. You cannot enter the Canadian workforce as a business visitor. Business visitor visas are intended to allow short-term stays for business activities such as industry conferences, site visits, or training. If you are transferred to Canada by your company or are otherwise employed by a Canadian company, you will need a work permit. You can come to Canada as a visitor to search for Canadian employment.
However, you cannot legally work in Canada without a work permit. If you secure a job offer from a Canadian employer while in Canada on a visitor visa, you must apply for a work permit before you can begin working. Your application must be processed by the Canadian visa office responsible for the country in which you live or are a citizen, so you may be required to leave Canada during the course of your application processing. However, you can legally remain in Canada for as long as your visitor visa is valid.
How to Apply for a Business Visitor Visa?
There is no special visa for business visitors to Canada. Business visitors have to follow the normal application procedure for a visitor visa, or TRV, and will need to indicate that they are entering Canada for international business activities. Business visitors may be required to demonstrate proof of their activities to the border services officer at their port of entry. Some business visitors may be visa-exempt, if they are from visa-exempt countries. In these cases, the individual may still need an electronic travel authorization (eTA) if they arrive in Canada by air. Business visitors may bring family members with them to Canada, but each family member must complete their own visitor visa application.
NAFTA Business Visitors
NAFTA, or the North American Free Trade Agreement, reduces barriers between Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Under NAFTA, citizens of these countries can gain quick entry into each others’ countries for temporary business or investment reasons. NAFTA business visitors are one category of business people under NAFTA.
Electronic Travel Authorization
Most foreign nationals who are exempt from requiring a Canadian visitor visa require an eTA if they are travelling to or transiting through Canada by air. A notable exception to the eTA requirement is U.S. citizens, who can continue to travel to Canada using their valid U.S. passport.
Traveling from the United States to Canada
U.S. citizens are exempt from the eTA requirement. U.S. citizens can enter Canada on their valid U.S. passport, whether they are travelling by air, land, or sea. Lawful permanent residents of the United States, or Green Card holders, are visa-exempt regardless of their country of citizenship. However, when travelling to Canada by air, they require an eTA, a valid Green Card, and a valid passport. Individuals with dual Canadian-American citizenship can enter Canada while travelling on either their Canadian or American passport. Individuals with dual citizenship with any country other than the United States are required to use their Canadian passport when they travel to Canada by air.
There are some exceptional cases in which travellers may not be required to obtain an eTA. Such cases include:
- French citizens who live in Saint Pierre and Miquelon and are flying directly to Canada from St. Pierre and Miquelon;
- Diplomats accredited by the Government of Canada, and;
- Foreign nationals who transit through a Canadian airport under the Transit Without Visa from certain countries with participating airlines on selected Canadian airports
- If you are a Chinese citizen and flying through Canada to or from the United States, you may not require an eTA. Only travellers with a valid U.S. visa travelling with participating airlines and through participating Canadian airports are eligible.
How to Apply for an eTA
To apply for an eTA, you will need internet access and your personal information such as address and passport. A form must be completed online and pay a $7 government fee by credit card. If approved, the eTA will remain valid for five years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. If you have more than one passport, you must travel with the passport that your eTA is linked to. Approval time ranges between minutes and days, so it is best to apply before travelling.
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