Do I need a visa for Canada?
It is compulsory to have a visa to enter Canada. Every traveller arriving in Canada by air must be able to show a valid visa. An exception is made for only two categories of travellers. Holders of an eTA Canada and holders of a Canadian or US passport do not need to apply for a Canada visa.
The visa requirement also applies to children and to travellers making a transfer through a Canadian airport.
Are you arriving in Canada not by plane, but by (cruise) ship, bus, train, car or other means of transport through land borders? If you are a national of a country in the European Union, the United Kingdom or Switzerland, you do not need a visa or an eTA.
It is often sufficient to obtain an eTA instead of a visa
The eTA (electronic Travel Authorization) is not a visa, but is similar to one. In fact, it is easier to apply for an eTA Canada than a visa. To obtain a visa, you typically need to make an appointment at a Visa Application Centre (VAC), whereas the eTA can be easily applied for online. In addition, the cost of applying for an eTA is lower than that of a visa. Finally, eTA applications are usually approved within a day, while visas for Canada usually take several weeks.
Most tourists and business travellers can apply for an eTA Canada and do not have to go through the complicated visa application process. To apply for this travel authorisation, all eTA canada requirements must be met:
• You are flying to Canada for a holiday, business trip or transfer
• You will not stay in Canada for longer than six months
• You are a national of an EU country, Switzerland, the UK or one of these countries
Apply for your eTA easily here
Choose the right visa and submit your application in time
If the eTA Canada is not suitable for your travel plans, you need to apply for a visa. Submit your application early enough. Depending on the selected visa type, the delivery time can range up to several weeks or months. You can read more about which visa type is required in which situation below. At the very bottom of this page, you can then find out how to apply for the required visa.
Visitor visa - for a temporary stay in Canada
The visitor visa category (also called temporary resident visa) includes four visa types: tourist visa, business visa, super visa, and transit visa. You can read more about these visa types in the table below. Note that the working visa, study visa and working holiday visa do not fall within the visitor visa category.
Requirements that apply to all visitor visas
There are some requirements that you need to consider if you want to apply for a visitor visa. Most importantly, you need a passport that is valid during your whole stay in Canada. Upon arrival, you must be able to prove that you intend to leave Canada again, for example by showing documents proving that you have a job, home or family outside Canada. You must also be able to prove that you have sufficient financial resources to cover both your stay in Canada and the return trip. Finally, you must be in good health, have no criminal record and have never broken a visa-related law in any country.
Explanation and requirements for each visitor visa type
In addition to the requirements that apply to each visitor visa, each visa type within the visitor visa category also has its own requirements. You can find these in the table below.
| The tourist visa authorises tourist trips (such as holidays) to Canada lasting up to six months.
The application will be examined by the Canadian immigration authorities. If your application is approved, you will receive a visa that allows you to travel to Canada once (single-entry) or visa for an unlimited number of trips (multiple-entry). It is not possible to choose between these two variants; the immigration service determines the variant that you will receive.
The main difference between the tourist visa and the eTA Canada is the validity period. While the tourist visa is valid for 10 years, the eTA is valid for 5 years. Keep in mind that the validity period of both travel authorisations expires when the passport used to apply loses its validity.
| Relevant information about the tourist visa:
• If you are a national of the United Kingdom, Switzerland or a country in the European Union, apply for an eTA Canada rather than a tourist visa.
| The business visa allows you to stay in Canada for up to six months for business purposes.
The business visa allows you to:
• attend business meetings
• make or negotiate business deals
• visit business locations
• attend business training courses
• perform short-term highly qualified work (15 consecutive days per semester or 30 consecutive days per year, at university or management level)
The business visa does not allow you to:
• participate in the Canadian labour market
• provide services to Canadian organisations
If you also want to provide services (other than short highly skilled work) or join a Canadian employer during your business trip, you will need to apply for a work permit in addition to your visitor visa or eTA.
| Relevant information about the business visa:
• If you are travelling to Canada for business, you must be able to prove that your main source of income and main work location are outside Canada.
• You will also need a letter of invitation from a (potential) business partner in Canada and an assignment letter from your employer outside Canada.
• If you are a national of the United Kingdom, Switzerland or a country in the European Union, apply for an eTA Canada rather than a business visa.
|Super visa for parents and grandparents
| The Parents and Grandparent Super Visa (PGP visa) allows parents and grandparents to stay in Canada for up to five consecutive years if their (grand)children are already living there.
The super visa is granted only if a (grand)child lives in Canada and has Permanent Resident or Citizen status there.
To qualify for a super visa, medical examinations must show that the applicant is healthy enough and is not expected to significantly burden the healthcare system in Canada.
| Relevant information about the super visa:
• You will need a letter of invitation written and signed by your child or grandchild. The letter should state that your child or grandchild will support you financially during your stay if necessary.
• You must take out health insurance with a Canadian insurer for at least a year after arrival and with a minimum coverage of CAD 100,000. You must provide proof of insurance upon arrival.
|Transit visa for a transfer in Canada
| The free transit visa allows you to make a transfer at an international airport in Canada.
Your stay in Canada may last up to 48 hours. During this time, you may not carry out any activities other than those necessary for your transfer.
The visa is only suitable for a transfer by plane. It is therefore not suitable if you arrive in Canada by bus, car, train, or ship.
| Relevant information about the transit visa:
• If you are a national of the United Kingdom, Switzerland or a country in the European Union, apply for an eTA Canada rather than a transit visa.
Visitor visa usually not required
European tourists and business travellers usually do not need the visas listed in the table above. Instead, they can apply for an eTA, which also allows stays of up to six months in Canada for holidays, business trips, transfers or visits to friends or family. Check if you meet the eTA Canada requirements and avoid the more complicated application process of the Canada visa.Read more about the eTA Canada application
Work visa – for temporary work in Canada
You need a work visa to work in Canada. Do not mistake the work visa for a business visa. Both the business visa and the eTA only allow you to attend business meetings, negotiate with (potential) business partners, make deals, tour locations, attend training courses and perform short-term highly skilled work in Canada under certain conditions. If you want to be employed by a Canadian organisation, or want to provide services to a Canadian organisation, you will need a work visa.
What is a work visa?
Strictly speaking, work visas are not stand-alone visas, but consist of a work permit required in addition to a visitor visa or eTA to work in Canada. If you are a national of the United Kingdom, Switzerland or a country in the European Union, you will also automatically receive an eTA with your work permit. The eTA allows you to travel to Canada, the work permit also allows you to work there. Your eTA and your work permit together will form your work visa.
Two types of work permits
Canada has two types of work permits: an open work permit and an employer-specific work permit. The open work permit allows you to be employed by different Canadian employers. An employer-specific work permit only allows you to work for the organisation that you mentioned while applying for your work permit. With an employer-specific work permit, the location and duration of your work must also be determined when applying. Open work permits offer more options, but are only granted in specific situations, for example to immediate family members of individuals holding an employer-specific work permit.
Study visa - to study in Canada
It is not always necessary to have a study visa to study in Canada. For study courses and exchange programmes that last less than six months in total, it is sufficient to apply for an eTA or visitor visa.
If the study takes longer than six months in total, a study visa is required, even if you do not stay in Canada for more than six consecutive months. Example: you want to follow a study programme with a total duration of nine months, but leave Canada for one week in between. Although the eTA allows you to stay in Canada multiple times for up to six consecutive months, you are not allowed to follow this course as its duration exceeds six months. In cases like this, you need a study visa.
What is a study visa?
Similarly to the work visa, the study visa consists of two parts. To be able to enter Canada, you need a visitor visa or eTA. In addition, you need a study permit to study there. If you apply for a study permit, you will also automatically receive a visitor visa or eTA.
Important: Does your eTA or visitor visa expire while you are in Canada, but your study permit is still valid? If so, you may complete your studies in Canada. You may then remain in Canada for up to 90 days after completing your studies, unless the study permit states otherwise. However, even if your study permit is still valid, if your eTA or visitor visa expires while you are in Canada and you decide to leave the country for a while and then re-enter to complete your studies, you will need to reapply for it.
Designated Learning Institutions
It is only possible to apply for a study permit to study at an educational institution registered as a Designated Learning Institution (DLI). Study programmes shorter than six months that can be completed without a study permit can also be attended at institutions that are not registered as DLIs.
Additional requirements for the study visa
Applying for a study permit for Canada is more complicated than applying for an eTA. To obtain a study permit, you are required to provide a letter of acceptance issued by an educational institution, among other things. You must also write your own letter of explanation, explaining why you want to study in Canada and stating that you know your responsibilities as a student. To be able to stay in Canada for more than six months with a study permit, you must also undergo a medical test before departure. Finally, you must demonstrate that you have adequate financial resources to cover your stay in Canada and your studies.
Working in Canada while studying
Even if an eTA is sufficient for you to pursue your intended studies in Canada and you do not need a study permit, you may still be interested in applying for a study permit. A study permit will allow you to perform paid work on the campus of your educational institution during your studies. To do so, you must first apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). Under certain conditions, a study permit also allows you to work off campus for a limited number of hours without the need for a work permit.
The Working Holiday Programme - to combine holidays and work
Travellers between the age of 18 and 30 can take advantage of a single opportunity to travel to Canada on a working holiday visa. This visa allows travellers to work in Canada temporarily, so that they can cover the cost of their holiday or tour of the country. The number of working holiday visas granted has an annual limit. Therefore, it is wise to apply for it as far as possible before departure.
Resident permits - for permanent residence in Canada
There are several ways to obtain the permanent resident (PR) status for Canada. Each way to obtain this status is subject to strict conditions. Most programmes work with a point-based system. The more points you score, the more likely it is that you will obtain the PR status. The overview below shows the different ways to qualify for permanent residence.
|The Express Entry process is designed for highly skilled workers. It is divided into three programmes. The Canadian Experience Class is suitable for individuals who have acquired work experience in Canada during the past three years. The Federal Skilled Worker Program and the Federal Skilled Trades Program are suitable for individuals with work experience gained outside Canada.
|Provincial Nominee Program
|If you do not meet the requirements of the Express Entry process, or if you have not scored enough points, it may be helpful to know that the provinces of Canada can issue visas on their own, regardless of the standard requirements. Check with the Canadian province where you wish to work to find out more about this opportunity. Some provinces have their own application procedure, whereas other provinces might still initiate an Express Entry application process for you with adapted requirements.
|Atlantic Immigration Program
|The Atlantic Immigration Program is similar to the Provincial Nominee Program. The four Atlantic Provinces created this program to allow Canadian employers to hire foreign workers for positions that cannot be covered by Canadian candidates. This procedure is initiated by the employer, not the employee.
|Start-up Visa Program
|The start-up visa is designed for foreign entrepreneurs who want to start an innovative business in Canada. The company in question must intend to become a global player and create jobs for Canadian residents.
|Self-employed Persons Program
|For self-employed people in the cultural or sports sector, Canada has the Self-employed Persons Program. To immigrate to Canada using this programme, you must be able to demonstrate that you have relevant experience and will make a significant contribution to culture or sport.
|Canadian citizens and permanent residents can bring relatives over by supporting them financially. Family members moving to Canada cannot claim social security benefits.
|There are other ways to obtain the PR status, including programmes for refugees and for full-time agricultural workers, and special programmes to convert a temporary resident permit into a permanent resident permit. The latter way is widely used to obtain permanent resident status.
How to apply for a visa for Canada
The process of applying for a visa to Canada always starts online, but then it is often necessary to make a physical appointment. The delivery times of the different visas vary widely, but are always longer than the quick eTA application process. Expect the processing times of visas to range from several weeks to months.
During the online visa application process, you will automatically be presented with all the requirements that apply and the information and documents that you need to provide. These vary depending on the chosen visa type and your personal situation. In many cases, you will also need to show up in person for an interview and/or the collection of biometric data, such as fingerprints.
The Visa Application Centre
If you are asked to appear at the appointment in person, you will probably have to go to a Visa Application Centre (VAC). In most cases, applicants are not invited for interviews at an embassy or consulate of Canada. The Visa Application Centre processes visa applications on behalf of the Canadian immigration service. Often, you can contact a VAC if you need help with your application. If you need to go to a VAC, you will be notified during the course of the visa application you submitted online.
e-Visa.ie is a commercial and professional visa agency, and supports travellers in obtaining, among others, the eTA Canada. e-Visa.ie acts as an intermediary and is in no way part of any government. You can also apply for an eTA directly with the immigration service (7 CAD per eTA, via onlineservices-servicesenligne.cic.gc.ca). However, not with our level of support. If you submit your application via e-Visa.ie, our support centre is available to you 24/7. We also check your application before submitting it to the immigration authorities on your behalf. If we suspect any errors or omissions while doing so, we will personally contact you to ensure that your application can still be processed quickly and correctly. To use our services, you pay us 7 CAD in consular fees, which we pay to the immigration service on your behalf, as well as € 25,15 in service fees as compensation for our services, including VAT. Our services have saved many travellers from major problems during their trip. Should an application be rejected despite our support and verification, we will refund the full purchase price (unless an application for a previous eTA Canada was rejected for the same traveller). Read more about our services here.