What is a Visitor Visa to enter Canada?
A Visitor Visa, also called a Temporary Resident Visa, or Tourist Visa, or Tourism Visa is an official Canada Immigration document that is issued to persons from a visa-required country, allowing them to travel to and enter Canada on a visitor status for up to 6 months. The Visitor Visa will attach to the person’s passport, showing he or she meets Canada’s immigration requirements.
Most travellers need to have a Visitor Visa to travel to Canada and may need one if you are traveling through any Canadian airport.
Anyone can apply for a Visitor Visa online or through the standard paper process.
Visa Required Countries
Travellers that originate from a one of the countries on Canada’s Visa-Required list, will need a visa to come to Canada by any method of travel: plane, car, bus, train, or cruise ship.
The list is long. If you wish to view this list, please visit Canada’s Entry requirements by country/territory webpage.
Note: Holders of Alien’s passport and Stateless individuals need a visa to visit or transit Canada.
Do you need a Visitor Visa or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) before you apply?
Whether you need a Visitor Visa, or an eTA depends on:
- the type of travel document you plan to travel with,
- the country that issued your travel document,
- your nationality,
- your method of travel to Canada for this trip.
Most will need a Visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to travel to Canada but will not require both. Some may only need their valid passport.
To determine if you need a Visitor Visa, or eTA, or just your passport, you can find out using Canada Immigration quick answer form – Find out if you need a Visa to travel to Canada
How long can you stay using a Visitor Visa?
Generally, it is a maximum six (6) months. At a port of entry, the border services officer may give you more or less than six (6) months. The border services officer will note the end date in your passport. In some cases, you will also receive a “Visitor Record“, which will also show the end date of your visa.
Requirements for a Visitor Visa
- You are not a Canadian citizen (includes dual citizenship) or permanent residents (PR) of Canada.
- You are legally authorized to enter Canada.
- You are visiting Canada on holiday (vacation) or,
- Visit family or,
- Conduct business etc., and
- You are transiting through Canada.
(Note: Visitors are restricted in length of stay and subject to various conditions)
- Able to prove you have ties such as a job, family, assets etc, that you will leave Canada after your visit to return home.
- Prove you are financially able to sustain yourself during your visit and return home.
- You do not need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) instead
(if you can apply for an eTA, then do so instead of a Visitor Visa).
- You may need to provide medical exam results, especially with Covid-19 restrictions, unless you fall under Covid-19 exemptions.
- You may need to provide biometric information (photo and set of fingerprints).
- Your Visitor Visa application is just for you, others in your family must submit their own application.
- Your visit does not include starting work or working in Canada, but if your visit is to search for employment, then you must reveal this intention in your application and to the immigration officer.
- You are expected to provide the necessary documentation per Document Checklist [IMM 5484] when requested.
- A certified translator must correctly translate the required documentation to English or French. You cannot use a family member, relative, child, friend, or personal associate to translate the documentation. If you cannot find or hire a certified translator, you must submit an affidavit swearing to the accuracy of the translation and the language proficiency of the translator you did use.
- The documentation you submit must also be certified as a valid and true copy of the original.
(Note: A visa officer may request you complete additional supporting documents).
For more detailed information on translating required documentation, who you can use, etc, please view the Guide 5256: Applying for Visitor Visa (Temporary Resident Visa) / Translation of documents webpage.
Benefits of a Visitor Visa
- A Visitor Visa is a temporary legal status to live or travel anywhere you want in Canada for a standard time of 6 months.
- You can apply and use a Visitor Visa to attend potential employment interviews, so long as you are open and honest of your intent to visit when applying, to the Immigration Officer or the Border Services Officer, especially if it involves searching for employment.
- You can apply to extend your Visitor Visa.
- You can conduct some business (i.e. Purchase goods or services, get training, visit a business site) while on a Visitor Visa, so long as you are not hiring anyone or enter the Canadian Labour Market in any manner or form.
Restrictions of a Visitor Visa
- You have temporary legal status to live and travel in Canada. You cannot work without a valid work permit or study without a valid study permit (does not include short-term training sessions for business). Once the Visitor Visa expires, you must leave Canada unless you get an extension.
- Unfortunately, Covid-19 has caused travel restrictions. If you can get a Visitor Visa during this Covid-19 pandemic, you may find restrictions attached to your visa of what or where you can go.
- General / Standard entry restrictions into Canada apply to all visitors, no matter the visa or program you had applied through. To see these restrictions and requirements, please view the Canada Border Services Agency-Visitors to Canada webpage.
Exemptions to a Visitor Visa
Permanent Residents (PR) of Canada
Permanent Residents need their valid PR card when:
- travelling to Canada by public transit (plane, train, bus, or boat)
- transiting through a Canadian airport.
If you do not have a PR card or a PR Travel Document (PRTD), you may not be able to board your flight to Canada.
If your PR card is expired or lost, then apply for a PRTD to travel to Canada.
Note: If your PR card expires, you do not lose your status as a permanent resident. Make sure you re-apply for a new PR card when you arrive in Canada.
USA Citizens or Canadian Dual Citizenship
A US citizen or American-Canadians that are have dual citizenship do not require a Visitor Visa and can enter and travel in Canada with valid identification and passport.
Visa Exempt Travellers
Travellers from specific countries, that enter Canada by car, bus, train, boat, or cruise ship. To see if you are one of these exempt travellers, please view the list at the Entry requirements by country/territory | Visa Exempt webpage.
There are numerous eTA exemptions that apply here. To view these exemptions, please visit the Entry requirements by country/territory | eTA Exemptions webpage.
What can Firebird Consultants do for your application of a Visitor Visa to Canada?
Firebird Consultants will help you with the initial assessment, application preparation and correspondence on your behalf with the federal and/or provincial government until the final decision is made on your application for a Visitor Visa to Canada.
If you are looking for a Russian speaking immigration consultant in Vernon, Kelowna, Okanagan, or in Canada to provide immigration support – please contact us for a free assessment.