Visiting visas and entry information

There are four different categories for people who come into Canada. Those who come to visit, study, work or to live. This section of the website reviews the different methods of entering Canada and how to gain entry for visitors, temporary workers, students coming to study at a university or college in Canada and immigrants relocating permanently.

Canada is home to many foreign embassies, all located in Ottawa. Some have consulate in other cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Quebec, and Halifax. A list of the embassies in Ottawa are listed below.

Travel visas, passports and entry requirements

To enter Canada you require a valid passport (valid for at least 1 day after you intend to leave Canada) unless you are a US citizen crossing the US and Canadian border. In this case, good identification is required. A person who is lawfully in Canada for temporary purposes is called a Temporary Resident. This includes Visitors, tourists, Students and workers.

Persons lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence who are in possession of their alien registration card (Green card) or can provide other evidence of permanent Residence do not typically require a visa.

British citizens and British Overseas Citizens who are re-admissible to the United Kingdom also do not require a visa.

Citizens of countries requiring visa must obtain them from the Canadian High Commission in their respective country.

In general, people are considered to be inadmissible to Canada due to past criminal activity if they were convicted of an offence in Canada or were convicted of an offence outside of Canada that is considered a crime in Canada. These people need to obtain a Temporary Resident Permit or Approval of Rehabilitation at a Canadian Consulate in order to enter Canada.

Work visas and holiday visas are different so make sure you get the correct type. Work visas are required for anyone apart from US citizens wishing to work in Canada.

Visas can be extended for a fee and must be requested at least 1 month before expiry.

Canada does not pay for hospital or medical services for visitors. Make sure you have health insurance to pay your medical costs in Canada if needed before you leave for Canada.


Everyone who comes to Canada must be healthy, respect Canadian laws, have valid passport or other travel documents. Visitors from the USA may enter Canada with a birth certificate and photo ID. Some visitors may require a visitor visa even for short visits or if changing planes in a Canadian airport. Some other visitors may require a letter of invitation.

It is recommended you have medical insurance for the entire duration of your stay. Canada does not pay for any medical services or hospital stays for visitors and small medical emergencies can run into the thousands of dollars. You should obtain medical insurance before you leave for Canada.

If you have been convicted of a crime, including a conviction for driving while impaired, you are not permitted to enter Canada. You may be able to seek a pardon from your government to resolve this.

When you arrive in Canada

At the airport, border crossing or port you will be questioned by a customs officer as part of routine entry requirements.

You will be asked a few short questions and must provide proof you meet the entry requirements Canada has set for your country.

You must produce your passport and other travel documents so ensure you have them to hand and not in your luggage. You passport will be stamped at this point.

If you wish to change the conditions of your visit you must do this before your current status expires. If you wish to extend your stay in Canada, you should do this at least 3 weeks before your visa expires. However, if you do not receive confirmation that your request has been accepted or denied before your current status expires you are granted what is known as “deemed status”. You can stay legally in Canada until your extension request has been processed and you have received an answer.

Canada’s Working Holiday Visa

Canada has temporary employment program for students aged between 18 to 30, from certain countries. The category is called “Working Holiday Program”.

The Working Holiday Program is a kind of open work and thus one does not need a work authorization or a job offer from the Canadian employer. This makes the visa is part more easily available and the procedure is not that complex.

This category has some limitations such as it is a one time opportunity, once you are given a letter of Introduction its not transferable, its validity is only for 12 months, whether you use it or not and you can not apply again.

You should still have enough money (have to show some available fund at the port of entry) so you can support your self in Canada if needed. You cannot accompany your spouse. The spouse is required to be admitted with their own visa. Children over 5 need to have study permit.

As a general requirement under “IRPA” (Immigration and Refuge Protection Act) you must comply with admissibility and eligibility needs to get visa under Working Holiday Program category.

The advantages are: Easy to get, no work permit needed to work for the period under validity except few countries (usually for 12 months), multiple entry for valid period. You can study during and if the course is longer then you can apply for study permit and finish the study.

Work in Canada

About 100,000 people come to Canada each year as temporary workers. This is an effective way of filling gaps in skilled areas and also seasonal shortages. To work in Canada you must have a valid work permit before entering.

To obtain a work permit an employer in Canada must first offer you a job. The employer must then request a labour market opinion from HRSDC. Once HRSDC approve the job position as suitable to be filled by a non-Canadian, you must apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for the work permit.

A work permit is not a form of immigration and is temporary.

Study in Canada

Every year many students choose universities and colleges in Canada as a place to study. Many come to Canada to learn English as a Second Language or French. Foreign students help bring different perspectives and cultural approaches to learning and subjects.

Each province in Canada regulates education and schools. The best way to find out about studying in Canada is through the school directly.

Almost all foreign students need a Study Permit to attend a school in Canada. If the course is less than six months and can be completed during the period of your stay in Canada, you do not need a Study Permit.

Study Permit are also not required for minors if their parents are not visitors in Canada or the student is a member of the family of a foreign representative located in Canada.

Study Permits must be obtained before arriving in Canada. If you are already in Canada you must leave to apply for a permit to study.

You must have a letter of acceptance from the educational institution before applying for a Study Permit.

Embassies and consultates

Canadian embassies and consulate offices can be found in many countries. The embassy is normally located in Ottawa but consulate offices are often found in other, large cities such as Toronto and Vancouver.