Who needs a visitor or transit visa?
All Canadian citizens, permanent residents, work and study permit holders and citizens from visa-exempt countries do not need a visitor or transit visa to enter Canada. These individuals may do so using an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) or other official documents (for example, Canadian passports). Find more about the eTA application process and requirements in this article.
Likewise, individuals may also be judged ‘inadmissible’ to Canada for certain security, criminal or medical reasons, meaning their visa applications may be denied. You can find out more about the inadmissibility criteria here.
However, if you do not fall into one of these categories, you will need to obtain one of these visas to enter Canada legally:
Travellers (not falling into the above categories) stopping in Canada for less than 48 hours on their way to another country need to get a transit visa.
Admissible individuals travelling to Canada for longer than 48 hours from the following countries (check under ‘Visa-required) need a visitor visa.
Under such visas (also known as temporary residents’ visas), individuals are usually permitted to stay in canada for up to six months. However, on entry, border service officers may determine the allotted duration of their stay, meaning this period can last more or less than six months. In any case, these officials put the date by which individuals must leave in their passports and may also give them a document, called a visitor record, with the date by which they need to leave Canada.
Applications and entry
Processing times for both transit and visitor visa applications rarely exceed 30 days.
To apply for one of these visas, you will need to:
- Complete and submit the respective application form (this can usually be done online)
- Pay the application fee ($100 CAD)
- Submit biometrics within 30 days of the date on the letter requesting you do this. You can find out more about this process here (as the process varies depending on whether you have submitted biometrics previously)
To enter Canada on one of these visas, you need the following documents:
- A valid passport with a minimum validity of six months remaining
- A completed Canadian Visa Application Form
- Two recent passport size colored photos
- Bank statement which shows all recent (up to six months) transactions
Canadian authorities may also ask certain individuals to:
- Provide proof of the purpose of their trip to Canada (such as a letter of invitation from a Canadian permanent resident or company)
- Send proof of their health condition. Thus, they may need a doctor’s examination before arriving depending on their country of current residence/origin.
Individuals must apply to extend their visa at least 30 days prior to the end of its validity should they wish to remain in Canada longer than initially permitted. Usually, applicants may do this online, the processing time is up to 100 days and applicants must pay a fee starting at $100 CAD. Individuals are permitted to remain in Canada under "implied status” while their application is processed even if their initial visa expires during this time. Successful applicants are issued a visitor record and can stay in Canada until the date written on this.
If you wish to visit parents or grandparents in Canada for longer than 6 months, you may apply to do so for up to 2 years at a time under a Super Visa. Super Visas are multi-entry visas valid for up to 10 years. Processing times vary depending on the nationality of the relative you are visiting but again, rarely take over 100 days and incur the same $100 CAD fee.
The process and documents required for minor children (below the age of 18) to travel to Canada varies depending on who they are traveling with. You can find out more about the process involved with children travelling to Canada here.