Visiting Canada - Visit, Study, and Work

Last updated: 23 November 2022

Canada welcomes millions of temporary residents every year to the country.

Foreign nationals can visit Canada as tourists (visitors), international students who come to pursue further education at a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI), or foreign workers who have obtained a work permit to be employed by a Canadian company. 

All of these are designated as temporary resident visas (TRV), which foreign nationals will need to obtain before entering Canada. Some countries like the United States and Mexico have specific agreements (like CUSMA) which allows citizens of these countries to work or visit Canada without a TRV. To find out if you are eligible to enter Canada without a TRV, use this checklist. 

You can also use the visitor tool to better understand travel requirements for your specific situation. 

Visit Canada

Table of Contents

Visiting Canada as a Tourist

To visit Canada as a tourist you may need to obtain a visitor visa, which is a kind of TRV

As mentioned certain countries do not require a a TRV, and will instead require citizens travelling to Canada to obtain an electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). You can check your requirements here.

Most visitor visas are issued for up to 6 months. The specific duration you receive will depend on your case and how you apply. If your approved stay is longer or shorter than 6 months you will receive a notice in your passport; and may also be given a visitor record which will display the date you need to leave by.

If you do not receive a stamp in your passport, you can stay for up to 6 months from the day of entry, or until the date of your passport expiry (whichever is first). 

Steps to applying for a visitor visa can be found here.

Discover Your Options to Visit Canada

Studying in Canada 

Most often when looking to study in Canada, foreign nationals will have to obtain a study permit, though there are exceptions for certain cases.

Note that after obtaining a study permit, one must obtain a student visa as well, to re-enter Canada upon leaving during the study-term.

To obtain a study permit, one must first obtain a letter of acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI). DLIs are official educational institutions that have been authorized by the government to accept and board international students.

From here applicants will need to prepare other documentation including proof of financial support, and a letter of intent to leave Canada after the duration of their studies (should they not want to pursue permanent residence (PR)).

An approved study permit should be valid for the length of the total duration of studies, plus 90 days following the program completion. 

Find out more about how to get a Canadian study permit here.

Discover Your Options to Study in Canada

Working in Canada

To enter Canada as a temporary foreign worker, one needs to obtain a work permit (another kind of TRV). Similar to the study permit, individuals will also need a work visa to re-enter Canada during the duration of their authorized stay.

There are multiple paths to obtain a work permit and work in Canada. 

These can broadly be broken down into the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP). 

The main difference between these two programs is the need for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which is the standard way that the Canadian government assesses the impact of hiring a foreign national on the Canadian labour market. 

In addition to the TFWP and IMP, there are also free trade agreements that Canada has with other nations, that guarantee those citizens abilities to work in Canada without an LMIA (these are contained with the IMP).

Lastly, international students who complete an approved program with a DLI are able to apply for a Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), after their studies. These permits are usually valid for the duration of the program completed, and allow international students the ability to gain Canadian work experience, and potentially apply for PR. 

You can find out more about your work permit options here.

Discover Your Options to Work in Canada

Frequently Asked Questions

Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents have the right to enter Canada freely. Other visitors to Canada, including tourists, students, and workers, may need a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to enter Canada.

No. You do not need a Temporary Resident Visa to visit Canada if you are from a visa-exempt country. In this case, a visa-exempt person flying to Canada would need to apply for and obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) before boarding his or her flight. If traveling to Canada over land, a visa-exempt person does not need either a TRV or an eTA.

Citizens from all other countries must apply for a Temporary Resident Visa before entering Canada, unless otherwise exempt.

Use our Visiting Canada Tool to determine what you need to do before traveling to Canada.

If your studies will last less than six months in Canada, then no Study Permit is required. Any studies beyond six months require a Study Permit, in addition to a Temporary Resident Visa, if you are not from a visa-exempt country.

There are many ways to qualify for a Work Permit. In some situations, the Canadian employer must demonstrate that they were unable to find Canadian citizens or Canadian permanent residents to fill the position.

If your TRV application is refused, there is no formal appeal process. In addition, you may only reapply if your situation has changed substantially or you have considerable new information to submit.

If your friend or family member requires a TRV to visit Canada, their initial application must be made outside the country, at the visa office responsible for the applicant's country or region. You may provide them with a Letter of Invitation, explaining how you will help the person to visit Canada. For example, you may state that you will pay for plane tickets or accommodation. While a Letter of Invitation may help a TRV application, it does not guarantee that the person will receive a visa.

In addition to the application forms and required fees, you will need to submit photos, proof of financial support, a photocopy of your return ticket or travel itinerary (if applicable), and any other documents required by the visa office responsible for your country or region.

No. You may simply present your passport and your valid Green Card at the Canadian border if traveling over land. If you are flying into Canada, you would need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

No, each family member must complete and sign the required forms. Parents or guardians may help their children fill out the forms, and will need to sign for any children under the age of 18. All the applications can be submitted in one envelope, with one payment receipt for the total fee for all applications.

If there is no stamp, handwritten date or document in your passport indicating an expiry date, your status as a temporary resident will expire six months from the day you arrive in Canada.

You may apply online or using a paper application to extend your status as a temporary resident. You should submit your application for an extended stay in Canada at least 30 days before your status expires. If your temporary resident status expires after you submit your application for an extension but before you receive a decision on the application, you may remain in Canada under maintained status. This status lasts until a decision is made on your new application.

In general, international students require a study permit to pursue an educational program in Canada. However, there are several exceptions to this rule. If your program in Canada is less than six months in duration you do not require a study permit, although it may be a good idea to apply for one in case you decide to continue your studies. As well, you may study in Canada without a study permit if you are a family member or staff member of a foreign representative accredited by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. You should contact your embassy in Canada for more information. In addition, if you are a member of a foreign armed force under the Visiting Forces Act, you will not be required to obtain a study permit. If your family members wish to study in Canada, they must meet the requirements. Finally, if you are in Canada on a work permit or student visa, your minor children can study at the secondary or elementary level. They must first enter Canada on a visitor visa.

As a general rule, a foreign national must obtain a Work Permit in order to work in Canada, although there are some exceptions.

If you are from a country that requires a visa to visit Canada, you will need to apply for a TRV just like any other visitor to Canada. The application is the same as for a visitor visa. For more information, please visit our page on Business Visitors.