Visitor Visa

Most people need a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization to travel to Canada. Some people may only need their valid passport (i.e. US Citizens). You will need to determine if you are from a visa requiring country or a visa exempt country in order to determine what documents you need to travel.  The www.cic.gc.ca website provides a list of all the visa requiring countries and visa exempt countries. 

Visitor Visa

If you are from a visa requiring country, you must make an application to a Visa Office before you travel. Except in certain circumstances, a visitor visa can be granted for up to 6 months. You must meet Canada’s basic entry requirements:

  • have a valid travel document, such as a passport,
  • have enough money for your stay and to return home,
  • plan to leave Canada at the end of your visit and
  • are not a criminal, security or health risk to Canadians.

Certain documents will be required depending on the country specific requirements from which you are applying. Amongst other things, the Visa office assessing your application will take into consideration:

  • the purpose of your trip,
  • how long you will be staying,
  • any ties you have to Canada or your country of residence,
  • how you will support yourself in Canada,
  • whether you have any medical issues,
  • whether you have any criminal convictions, and
  • whether you’ve been previously refused or removed from Canada or any other country.

If you wish to remain in Canada beyond 6 months, you must submit a visitor visa extension application before the expiry of your current visa. If you apply to extend your permit, and your visitor visa expires while you are waiting for a decision, you still have temporary resident (visitor) status. This is known as implied status.

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

Visa exempt visitors to Canada will require an eTA if they are travelling to Canada by air. An eTA is electronically linked to a traveller’s passport and is valid for up to five years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first.  If you get a new passport, you need to get a new eTA.

With a valid eTA, you can travel to Canada as often as you want for short stays (normally for up to six months at a time). You do not need an eTA for travel within Canada.

An eTA doesn’t guarantee entry to Canada. The Canada Border Services Officer can still refuse entry upon arrival and so you must still be able to answer their questions about your visit to Canada and meet eligibility.

The eTA is an online process, costs $7 CAD and usually takes minutes. Although some more complex situations may take several days to generate a response. 

Business Visitor

As a business visitor, you must show that:

  • you plan to stay for less than six months,
  • you do not plan to enter the Canadian labour market,
  • your main place of business, and source of income and profits, is outside Canada,
  • you have documents that support your application (letter of invitation from the potential business or business partner in Canada and 24 hour contact details for that person) and
  • you meet Canada’s basic entry requirements, because you:
    • have a valid travel document, such as a passport,
    • have enough money for your stay and to return home,
    • plan to leave Canada at the end of your visit and
    • are not a criminal, security or health risk to Canadians.

Cross-border business can include:

  • buying Canadian goods or services for a foreign business or government,
  • taking orders for goods or services,
  • going to meetings, conferences, conventions or trade fairs,
  • giving after-sales service (managing, not doing hands-on labour),
  • being trained by a Canadian parent company that you work for outside Canada,
  • training employees of a Canadian branch of a foreign company or
  • being trained by a Canadian company that has sold you equipment or services.

Multiple Entry Visa’s and the Super Visa

Every visa applicant is automatically considered for a multiple entry visa. The officer will determine if you are eligible for the multiple entry visa depending on your situation. A multiple entry visa will allow you to travel to Canada for up to 6 months at a time as many times as you wish. It will be valid for 10 years or the duration of your passport, which comes first.  

The Super Visa is available to eligible parents and grandparents  and is also a multi-entry visa that provides multiple entries for a period up to 10 years. However, the Super Visa allows an individual to stay for up to two years on initial entry into Canada. With the parent and grandparent super visa, eligible parents and grandparents can visit family in Canada for up to two years without the need to renew their status every 6 months.

To apply for the parent and grandparent super visa, you must:

  • be the parent or grandparent of a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada who meets minimum income thresholds set by the Government and offers you unconditional financial support during your visit,
  • be allowed to enter Canada, and
  • have valid Canadian medical insurance coverage for at least one year, have an immigration medical examination.

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