Visitor visas and visitor status extensions
Castlewell Immigration can advise you on all manner of visitor status matters including Temporary Resident Visas, Visitor Records, eTAs, and maintaining or restoring status in Canada.
Every year millions of people from around the world visit Canada as either tourists or business visitors. In Canadian immigration law, there are three categories of visitors: eTA and visa-exempt visitors, eTA-requiring visitors, and visa-requiring visitors. The main difference between these categories is the documentation required to enter Canada based on the applicant’s citizenship.
eTA and Visa-Exempt Visitors: This category includes only citizens of the United States and visa-exempt visitors who are entering Canada via the land border crossing. U.S. Citizens are visa-exempt and do not require a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to enter Canada for a temporary visit. Also, citizens of countries that are eTA-requiring can enter Canada without a valid eTA as long as they are not flying into Canada. eTAs are only necessary if you are flying into Canada, so if you are of a citizenship that normally requires an eTA, but you are driving into Canada, an eTA is not required. These visitors may enter Canada with only their passport and other required documents, such as documents evidencing the purpose of their visit and proof of sufficient funds for their trip. Visa-exempt visitors are typically allowed to stay in Canada for up to six months.
eTA-Requiring Visitors: Citizens of countries that are also visa-exempt, but are traveling to Canada by air are required to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) before their trip. This is a pre-screening process that determines if the visitor is admissible to Canada. eTA-requiring visitors must complete an online application and pay a CAD $7 fee. Most applications are approved within minutes, but some may require additional time for processing. There are currently 53 countries on the list of Visa-exempt (eTA eligible) travelers.
Visa-Requiring Visitors: Citizens of every country that are neither eTA or Visa-exempt are required to obtain a Visa, also known as a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) to visit Canada. This is a more in-depth screening process that requires the applicant to have a physical visa stamped in their passport in order to travel to Canada. Depending on the circumstances, the document and processing requirements can be more extensive as well, including such things as evidence of ties to home country, evidence of finances, evidence of employment, a letter of invitation, and possibly a medical exam and police certificates. The application fee for a TRV is CAD $100, and the processing time can vary depending on the applicant’s country of origin.
It is important to note that the above categories apply only to temporary visits to Canada. For long-term stays, such as for study or work, different requirements and processes may apply. Additionally, meeting the requirements for entry into Canada is not a guarantee of entry, and visitors may still be refused entry at the border if they do not meet the requirements or if they are deemed inadmissible for other reasons.
How to apply for an eTA
To apply for a Canadian Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), you can follow these simple steps:
- Determine if you are eligible: You may apply for an eTA if you are a citizen of a visa-exempt country and are traveling to Canada by air. You can check if you are eligible for an eTA on the Government of Canada website.
- Gather your documents: You will need your passport, a valid email address, and a credit card to pay the application fee.
- Fill out the application: Visit the Government of Canada website to fill out the eTA application form. Make sure to provide accurate and complete information
- Pay the fee: The application fee for an eTA is CAD $7. You can pay using a credit card or a prepaid card.
- Submit the application: After completing the form and paying the fee, review your application to make sure all the information is accurate. Then submit your application.
- Wait for approval: Most eTA applications are approved within minutes. However, it can take up to several days for the application to be processed.
- Receive your eTA: If your application is approved, you will receive an email with your eTA confirmation number. Make sure to print or save a copy of the confirmation page for your records.
It is important to note that an eTA is not a guarantee of entry into Canada. You may still be refused entry at the border if you do not meet the entry and admissibility requirements.
Visitors/Tourists versus Business Visitors
Under Canadian immigration law, a Visitor is an individual who is coming to Canada for a temporary visit for tourism, visiting family or friends, or other similar reasons. On the other hand, a Business Visitor is an individual who is coming to Canada for a temporary visit for business-related purposes.
The main difference between a Visitor and a Business Visitor is the purpose of their visit. A Visitor is coming to Canada for non-business-related reasons, while a Business Visitor is coming for specific business-related activities. These activities may include activities such as attending business meetings, negotiating business contracts, or conducting market research.
Another difference is that Business Visitors may be exempt from obtaining a work permit under certain circumstances. For example, if the Business Visitor is employed by a foreign company and is not entering the Canadian labour market or receiving remuneration from a Canadian source, they may be exempt from obtaining a work permit.
It is important to note that the criteria for determining if an individual is a Visitor or a Business Visitor or someone who requires a work permit is evaluated on a case-by-case basis and can be difficult for the average person to determine without knowing the requirements of each category. Contact out immigration experts at CCIS if you have any questions or concerns about your eligibility.
Factors Canadian Immigration Officers Consider to Assess Visitors to Canada
Canadian immigration officers assess visitor visa applications based on a variety of factors, which can include:
- Purpose of visit: The immigration officer will assess the purpose of your visit to Canada to determine if it is legitimate, such as tourism, business or to visit friends or family. It is important to provide clear and concise information regarding the purpose of your visit.
- Financial status: The immigration officer will evaluate your financial status to determine if you have sufficient funds to cover your stay in Canada. You will need to provide evidence of your financial status, such as bank statements, employment letters, or tax documents.
- Ties to your home country: The immigration officer will assess your ties to your home country, such as family ties, employment, and property ownership. This is to ensure that you have genuine temporary intent and sufficient reasons to return home at the end of your authorized stay in Canada.
- Travel history: The immigration officer will evaluate your travel history, including previous visits to Canada, the United States or other countries, and whether you have complied with immigration laws during previous visits.
- Criminal history: The immigration officer will assess your criminal history, including any past convictions or charges. A criminal record can affect your eligibility for a Canadian Visitor Visa or render you inadmissible.
- Medical history: Depending on your country of origin and length of stay in Canada, the immigration officer may require you to complete an immigration medical examination to assess your medical history to determine if you pose a risk to public health in Canada.
- Invitation letter: If you are visiting family or friends, an invitation letter may be required. This letter should outline the purpose of your visit and your relationship with the inviting party.
How to apply for a Canadian Visa/Temporary Resident Visa (TRV)
Step 1: Determine your eligibility
The first step is to determine your eligibility for a Canadian Visitor Visa based on the factors outlined above. In order to be eligible, you must meet certain requirements such as having a valid passport, demonstrating that you have enough funds to support yourself during your stay, and providing evidence that you plan to leave Canada at the end of your authorized stay. It also requires evidence that the purpose of your visit is legitimate and that you have genuine temporary intent.
Step 2: Gather Required Documents
Once you have determined that you are eligible for a Canadian Visitor Visa, the next step is to gather the required documents. These may include your passport, travel itinerary, a letter of invitation (if applicable), proof of funds, and any other supporting documents that demonstrate your ties to your home country and your intention to leave Canada at the end of your authorized stay.
Step 3: Complete the Application Form
The next step is to complete the application form for a Canadian Visitor Visa. This is usually completed online via an Immigration Canada application portal. Make sure that you fill out all forms accurately and completely as incomplete or inaccurate forms can lead to delays or even a denial of your application. Upload all required supporting documents.
Step 4: Pay the Application Fees
After completing the application forms and uploading supporting documents, you will need to pay the application fees. The fees will depend on your country of origin and the type of visa for which you are applying. Fees are usually paid online, but in certain circumstances can be paid in-person at a Visa Application Centre.
Step 5: Submit Your Application
Once you have completed the application and paid the fees, you need to submit your application. If you applied online, you can submit your application electronically.
Step 6: Wait for Processing
After submitting your application, you will need to wait for it to be processed. The processing time can vary depending on the country you are applying from, which IRCC office is processing the application, the complexity of your application and the volume of applications.
Step 7: Attend a Visa Interview (if applicable)
Though this rarely happens, IRCC reserves the right to ask you to attend a visa interview. This will depend on your individual circumstances and may be requested by the visa officer reviewing your application.
Step 8: Receive Your Visa
If your application is approved, you will receive instructions to submit your passport to the nearest VAC for visa stamping. Make sure to review the visa to ensure that all the information is correct and that the dates of your authorized stay are accurate.
We hope that this guide has been helpful in understanding how to apply for a Canadian Visitor Visa. If you have any further questions or need assistance with your application, please do not hesitate to contact us. As immigration lawyers, we are dedicated to helping our clients navigate the immigration process and achieve their immigration goals.
For some people, the visa application process can be complicated and difficult. However, you can increase your chances of getting your application approved while saving time and hassle by hiring Castlewell Canadian Immigration Services.