Are you planning to travel to Canada, or through Canada to another destination? Read here whether you need to apply for a Canada visa or an eTA. Citizens from most European countries who are planning to fly to Canada for a holiday, business, or simply a transit through Canada, don’t need a visa. Instead of the Canada visa, the eTA Canada suffices. American and Canadian passport holders don’t need either a Canada visa or an eTA Canada; they only need to hold a valid passport to be allowed entry into Canada. With an eTA you can stay in Canada for a maximum of 6 consecutive months for tourist or business purposes. If you meet the requirements mentioned on this page, you can apply for an eTA Canada online. If you do not meet these requirements, you can apply for a Canada visa at the Canadian embassy or on the website of the Canadian government.
A Canada visa is not the same as an eTA Canada. Check on time what type of travel authorization you need. This page explain what the differences between the eTA and visa are, what the requirements for both are, and which Canada visa you need in the case that an eTA Canada does not suffice in your situation. For instance, you are required to apply for a visa if you wish to enter into employment with a Canadian organisation, if you wish to stay in Canada for longer than six consecutive months, or if you do not meet the passport requirements which hold for the eTA. In the chapters below you will find the most important things to keep in mind if you are in doubt if and which type of visa you need to perform the planned activities in Canada.
Chapters with more information about the Canada visa
1. Visa or eTA?
It's very important that you apply for the right travel authorization (eTA Canada or Canada visa). This way, you can avoid being denied entry to your flight, or being put on a return flight home by the immigration service once you arrive in Canada. Before the implementation of the eTA Canada (eTA meaning) each traveler to Canada that did not possess the Canadian or American nationality was required to apply for a visa. Because this was an expensive and complicated procedure, the Canadian government implemented the eTA in 2015. The eTA Canada is easier, faster, and cheaper to apply for than the Canada visa. Under certain circumstances, which apply to most travelers, the eTA is virtually equal to the visa. To apply for an eTA the traveler and their travel plans must meet several requirements.
Requirements to apply for an eTA Canada:
- You are traveling to Canada by plane
- You are staying in Canada for a maximum of six consecutive months (maximum validity period is five years)
- You are traveling to Canada on a holiday, for business (for example to attend a meeting or to visit clients or suppliers), or on a transit
- On arrival in Canada, you possess a return ticket or another ticket with which you will eventually leave Canada
- You have the nationality of a country mentioned in the list of visa-exempt countries for trips to Canada
If you meet all these requirements, you do not need to file for a Canada visa but are better off applying for an eTA.
If you meet ALL of the above mentioned requirements, you can apply for an eTA. An eTA Canada is not a visa, but a mandatory electronic travel authorization to travel to Canada without a visa. The “electronic Travel Authorization” (eTA) system was implemented to allow travelers to fly to Canada with less stress. As you are required to apply for an eTA beforehand, it saves you a lot of time during your trip and prevents waiting times at the airport.
Read more about the eTA and applying for an eTA
In the following cases you do not meet the requirements for the eTA and are therefore required to apply for a Canada visa:
- You are planning to stay in Canada for longer than six consecutive months
- You are planning to work in Canada (under the employment of a Canadian organisation)
- You do not meet the legal or regulatory demands for the eTA
In the above mentioned cases it is necessary to apply for a Canada visa in order to travel into the country. With this, it is important that you apply for the right visa type; an approved visa is only valid for the purpose it was issued for. Carefully read the chapters below to apply for the right visa as quickly and correctly as possible.
2. Overview of Canada visas
If you do not meet the requirements for an eTA, you can still apply for a visa. To enter Canada without an eTA, you can choose from dozens of Canada visas. Each visa type has its own terms and requirements. This chapter will help you with selecting the right visa to travel to Canada.
The Canadian visas can be separated into two main categories: Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), and Permantent Resident visa (PR). The temporary resident visas are are suited for staying in Canada for a holiday, study, or work. The permanent resident visa apply to anyone wishing to settle in Canada for an extended period of time, for instance to emigrate to Canada.
1. Temporary Resident Visa
A temporary resident visa is an official document that is issued by a consular employee. After the approval of the visa, this physical document will be stamped in your passport, so the immigration service can see that you likely meet all the demands to temporarily stay in Canada.
According to Canadian law these temporary resident visa are for “aliens that are legally entitled to enter Canada for temporary purposes”. These “aliens” can belong to one of the following 4 groups: visitors, students, temporary foreign employees, and temporary green card holders. These four groups can stay in Canada on the basis of their visa as a privilege, not a right.
Temporary resident visa are therefore suited for people who want to come to Canada to celebrate a holiday, to study or work, and who do not meet the requirements for the eTA. The intention has to be a temporary stay in Canada and not a permanent one.
Overview of Temporary Resident Visa
Canada visitor visa A Canada visitor visa is issued to foreign visitors who wish to temporarily stay in Canada for a holiday, business, transits, or family visits. This visa can therefore be applied for if you want to go on vacation to Canada, you want to visit Canada for business, or want to visit family or friends. One of the most important requirements for the Canada visitor visa is that your stay is temporary, and that you intend to leave Canada at the end of your stay. In general, you can acquire a visitor visa more easily if your haven’t traveled much and don’t have a criminal past.
4 types of Canada visitor visa
Canada tourist visa
This visa is issued to individuals who wish to temporarily visit Canada for tourist purposes. Oftentimes you need an eTA to visit Canada as a tourist. If you do not meet the rules for an eTA, you can apply for a tourist visa. You are, however, required to meet the following demands to qualify for the Canada tourist visa:
- You have a valid passport
- You can prove that you have strong personal ties in your home country. This can help convince the Canadian immigration service that you actually intend to leave Canada at the end of your trip
- You can show that you have sufficient financial means to pay for your trip, return trip, and stay in Canada
With the approval of the Canada tourist visa, the Canadian immigration service normally automatically issues a visa allowing you to visit Canada multiple times (multiple entry visa).
- Single entry visa
This type of visa can only be used to enter Canada once, and is valid for a minimum of one month. This type visa type is only issued in exceptional cases.
- Multiple entry visa
This visa type is an authorization to travel to Canada an unlimited number of times for a maximum period of 6 consecutive months, and is valid for 10 years. It also automatically expires 1 month before your passport is no longer valid.
Canada Business visa
This visa is issued to individuals that want to temporarily visit Canada for business purposes. In the eyes of the Canadian government you are a temporary business visitor if:
- You are looking for ways to make your company grow
- You wish to invest
- You want to make progress with business relations
To acquire this visa, you need to be able to provide a letter in which you are invited by a (potential) Canadian business relation. You must also be able to provide the contact information of this business relation (who is available 24 hours) and possibly also a document stating where and who you work for at this moment.
Aside from that, you are required to meet the following requirements in order to qualify for the Canada business visa:
- You must leave Canada within six months
- You cannot enter the Canadian job market
- You have to be able to prove that your most important source of income and profit lies outside of Canada
- You have to possess a valid passport
- You must be able to prove that you possess sufficient financial means to pay for your trip, your stay, and your return trip
If you wish to stay for longer than 6 months as a temporary business visitor in Canada, you need to file for a “Work Permit” (see below).
Canada transit visa
This Canada visa is issued to individuals that want to temporarily visit Canada in order to immediately continue their journey. It grants access to Canada on the conditions that you are on a transit through Canada without needing to stop anywhere or having to visit something or someone. You need to apply for this visa if you are on a transit through Canada and don’t qualify for an eTA en u op doorreis bent in Canada. This visa type can be applied for free of charge at the Canadian immigration service.
Parent and grandparent super visa
This visa is issued to parents or grandparents who want to make a visit to Canada, with the purpose of visiting one or several children who are living in Canada permanently. This visa is valid for 10 years, with each stay being allowed to last a maximum of 2 consecutive years. The average time between application and approval for this visa is 8 weeks.
Before you qualify for this visa, the immigration service looks at, among other things:
- Your ties with your country of origin
- The economic and political stability of your country of origin
- The purpose of your visit; is it reasonable to assume that you are truly traveling to Canada for the purpose of visiting your children or grandchildren, and returning home afterwards?
- Various details about your family and finances
- The invitation of the person you wish to visit
- Your health insurance; you are required to have proper Canadian health insurance for at least 1 year, and are required to undergo a medical test
A student visa or student permit is issued to foreign students that want to visit Canada to study. Canada is an ideal destination for international students due to the freedom to live, study, and work (on campus) during the validity period of the student visa. This visa costs roughly 100,- and processing of the application takes 2 weeks on average.
To qualify for the student visa you are required to meet the following demands:
- You are enrolled in a recognized Canadian educational institution (such as a university) and can provide a “letter of acceptance” proving this. Furthermore, you must be able to show that you have sufficient financial means to pay the required tuition and provide in your livelihood (and the potential livelihood of your partner and/or family members) during the period you are staying in Canada
- You do not have a criminal record and do not pose a threat to Canadian society
- You are in good health and willing to cooperate with a medical exam to prove this
- It is reasonable to assume that you intend to eventually leave Canada
Strictly speaking, this visa type is a permit and not a visa. With the Canada student visa, you automatically receive a valid eTA.
Canada work visa
A temporary work permit is issued to foreign employers that want to temporarily work in Canada for a Canadian employer. This visa has 2 types: open work permit and employer specific employer-specific work permits. With an open work permit you are free to work for different Canadian employers. The other type permits you to work under the specific terms listed in this work permit. These terms determine for example the name of the employer you are required to work for, how long you can work, and the location where you can work.
There are a number of important requirements to be eligible for this visa/work permit, including:
- You must have been offered a job by a Canadian employer (the most important requirement)
- It is reasonable to assume that you intend to leave Canada after your work permit expires
- You have to prove that you possess sufficient financial means to provide in the livelihoods of yourself and any potential family members during your stay, and to allow you to return home after your stay
- You cannot have a criminal past
- You must be in good health and agree to a medical exam
- You cannot pose a threat to the safety of Canada
Working Holiday Visa Canadam
The Working Holiday Visa Canada allows you to travel and/or work in Canada during your trip. You are required to to be at least 18 years of age, with a maximum of 30 years. This type of visa can only be applied for once. This visa allows you to work in Canada during your holiday, allowing you to finance your trip while you are there. Beware that this visa is in very short supply; apply for this visa type on time.
2. Permanent Resident Visas
To qualify for a permanent resident visa or residence permit, you must meet a number of strict requirements. You can make use of the Express Entry program to acquire a permanent residence permit based off of national economic immigration programs such as:
- The “Federal Skilled Worker Program”
- The “Federal Skilled Trades Program”
- The “Canadian Experience Class”
Furthermore, Canadian provinces can set their own specific requirements that potential immigrants have to meet to qualify for a permanent resident permit. These permits fall under the “Provincial Nominee Program”, such as the “Quebeq-selected skilled workers” program.
Selecting the correct visa
It is very important to find out exactly which Canada visa applies to your situation. Aside from the visa in the above mentioned two categories, Canada has other visa types. It is also important to know that a visa does not guarantee you a stay in Canada. Upon arrival, a customs officers can ask you questions about your trip and stay. If the answers are determined to be unsatisfactory, your might still be denied entry to the country. If you are traveling to Canada with a valid Canada visa, you can reasonably assume that you will not face any troubles with the immigration service, assuming that you are entering Canada for the purposes under which the visa was issued.
The rules, terms, and requirements for the Canada visa change constantly. Is is therefore important that you carefully research the website of the Canadian government to assure yourself that you are applying for the correct visa. When in doubt, it is best to contact your local Canadian embassy or consulate. They provide services and information regarding all visas to Canada.
3. Reasons for rejection
It can occur that your Canada visa application is rejected. This can have several reasons.
The most common reasons for rejections can be:
- Your health is determined to be inadequate
- You pose a possible safety risk, generally because you have a criminal past and/or a criminal record
- You do not possess the required documents
- You have been denied access to Canada before
- The customs officer is not convinced that you are visiting Canada for the purpose indicated in your visa application
- The customs officer is not convinced that you plan to leave Canada again
- You cannot prove that you possess sufficient financial means to pay for your stay and return trip
- You do not meet the visa-specific requirements
The above mentioned list is an incomplete selection from the possible reasons why a Canada visa might be rejected. Keep in mind that applying for a Canada visa takes more times than an eTA application. A Canada visa application often takes several weeks, while the eTA Canada is often granted within minutes.
4. Canada visa application
After your visa application it can take several weeks, occasionally even up to two months, before you receive the required visa.
The following Canada visas can be applied for online:
- Temporary residence visas, including:
- Visitor visas
- Student visas/student permits
- Work visas/ work permits
- Permanent resident permits that fall under the programs of the “Federal Skilled Worker Programm”, “Federal Skilled Trades Programm” or the “Canadese Experience class”
Other Canada visas generally have to applied for through the Canadian embassy or the Canadian government.
Required for a visa application
In order to start a visa application, a valid passport and a filled in visa application form is required (which can often be filled in online). Furthermore, a number of extra documents or pieces of evidence can be of importance during the application such as: proof of sufficient financial means, the result of a medical test, a statement of conduct or (lack of a) criminal record, proof of your health insurance, results of language tests, diplomas and other certificates.
During the visa application, information will be asked about yourself, your family, and the reason for your visit to Canada. It is important that you answer all questions correctly to avoid delays during your visa application.
- Temporary residence visas, including: