Canadian government issues different types of visas for Canada, and which one is the best for you is the question we will be trying to answer today. Many potential temporary or permanent immigrants think that getting a Canadian visa is difficult, but this is far from the truth: you need patience, organization, and, for the most difficult part, a lot of funds. How much exactly and what type of visa is the right visa for you is something we will be dealing with shortly. 

There are several types and subtypes of Canadian visas, and there are over 80 programs that you can join to get one of them. With ten basic visa types, it can be confusing which one to choose: after all, no two people have exactly the same needs and exactly the same background, so two very similar people may need two different visas. And while some may be looking for a way to explore Canadian wilderness and its rich history, others may be looking for education or work opportunities. The differentiation between all of these is what we will be working on today. Let’s dive right in. 

Canadian Visa: What Is It and How Does It Work?

The Canadian visa is a document that allows you to enter Canada. It is issued only to successful applicants, and it allows you to stay in Canada for a set period of time, which is to be found on the visa itself. It is a paper document that is applied to (glued into) your passport, which you have to carry with you whenever you want to travel to Canada. 

A valid visa does not mean an automatic entry into the country. Every time you try to enter through a Point-of-Entry (POE), customs police or the border officers will reassess your exact needs and reasons for the entry. If you have successfully passed this control point, the border officer will stamp your passport with a date of entry and the latest date by which you should leave the country. Customs officers and visa authorities work separately, and you may be declined entry even with a valid visa.

To prevent any issues or misunderstandings, it is best to communicate clearly and truthfully and to stay out of trouble – committing crimes in Canada will easily deem you inadmissible, possibly ruining your chances to return and keep working or studying there. This is true for all visa types, and these controls are a normal part of the entry process. 

Who Needs a Canada Visa?

If you are unsure about whether you need a Canadian visa or not, it is best to consider that you do. In fact, citizens of 148 countries need a visa document issued by the Canadian national government to visit this beautiful country. Foreign students and foreign workers need it alike, and one of many Canadian visa programs can help you get it. 

Even if you live in a country that allows visa-less travel to Canada, you may still need an eTA (electronic Travel Authorisation). This document is easy to obtain, and it will allow you entrance into the country. In some cases, you will only need an eTA if you are flying to Canada. If you are accessing Canada by land (only from the US border crossings) or from the sea or one of the lakes between the US and Canada, you will not need it. 

Please beware that you can travel to Canada without a visa from these countries ONLY if you are a citizen and have a passport. You cannot transit through these countries and expect to be let into Canadian territory, and you cannot depart from these countries if you have a passport issued by a country not on the list and expect to be admitted. The rules are different if you are reentering Canada. 

Types of Canadian Visa

There are many different types of Canadian visas. Here, we will outline the ten types with three subtypes under the Express Entry Program, the fastest and the most popular Canadian visa program, with the processing time as short as six months for permanent immigration. You can choose the type of visa you would like to apply for based on your needs and your goals in Canada. 

Visitor Visa

The Canadian visitor visa is a group of visas that can be issued for an array of needs and goals. These visas are issued for a specified period of time, and they allow you to stay in Canada temporarily – for the duration specified on the visa itself or shorter (staying longer is considered an overstay and will compromise your future visa application). This visa type is also called a temporary resident visa. 

You can apply for this visa online or on paper at your domestic Canada consulate or embassy. You may need this type of visa even if you are in transit through a Canadian airport and do not plan on stepping on Canadian soil. The maximum length of this visa is set to 6 months, and you can have a single-entrance or multiple-entrance visitor visa. Here are some subtypes of the Canadian visitor visa: 

Canadian Visitor Visa TypeCanada Visit Goal
Canadian Tourist VisaTourist Purposes
Diplomatic and Official VisaDiplomatic Visit of Foreign Officials
Courtesy VisaGiven to All Who do Not Fall Into the Diplomatic Category but Are Considered Important in Official Terms
Give Birth in Canada VisaThis is given to Pregnant Women Who Would Like to Deliver the Baby in Canada. The Baby Is Issued Canadian Papers Right Away
Organ Donors VisaIf You Are Traveling to Canada to Donate an Organ to a Canadian Permanent Resident or Citizen
Canada Felicitation VisaIssued to People with Dual Nationalities
Temporary Residence PermitFor a Variety of Purposes, if the Visa Applicant Is Not Eligible for the Temporary Resident Visa
Working Holiday VisaGiven to Young Nationals of 30 Countries when Canada Allows Them to Come and Work Temporarily on the Canadian Soil
Canada Transit VisaRequired for all Foreign Citizens who Would otherwise Need a Visa to Visit Canada when Transiting through Canada

Work Visa

Work visas or work permits are issued to those looking for ways to work in Canada. In most cases, you will need a job offer, although this is not a definite prerequisite, and it depends on the program that you will use to apply for the visa in the first place. With this in mind, there are several types of work permits in Canada and each of them has its own requisites to get the visa. When applying through the LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment) or NAFTA (North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement), you will need a valid job offer, usually at least a year long. These visas are perfect for those looking to apply for Permanent Resident Status or for CEC (Canadian Experience Class) in the near future. 

A special type of work visa is called the business class immigration visa. These are divided into three categories and they apply to Quebec: Federal Immigration Programs and Provincial Immigration Programs. They are intended for all who want to start a business in Canada (Start-Up Visa) or move their existing business to Canada. One of the requirements is that your net worth is more than CAD300,000. 

Visa for Permanent Residence

As the name suggests, a permanent residence visa allows immediate access to permanent residency in Canada. Under this program, you will be able to apply for various jobs and goals and to stay in Canada for an indefinite period, eventually sponsoring your family members to come and join you. There are several types of visas under this program, some of which have been discussed before: 

  • Immigrant Investor Program (not the same as business class immigration, here, you need a minimum CAD800,000 net worth and a minimum of CAD200,000 to invest in the Canadian economy and have returned within five years with no interest rate.
  • Startup Visa Program (CAD300,000 minimum net worth required)
  • Self-Employes Persons Visa
  • Family Sponsorship Program 
  • Live-In Caregiver Work Permit Program

Visa for the Express Entry Program

The Express Entry Program is the most popular immigration program there is. Under this program, as long as you made your application online and have delivered ALL the required documents, you can expect your status to be resolved within six months. Similar programs in other countries, such as the US, take at least a year to process and as much as ten years for a residency status to be confirmed. 

Fast processing time and a lot of draws every year (they are done biweekly) mean high chances to enter Canada. This is the most popular Canadian immigration program that allows you to get permanent residence in Canada. There are three subprograms: skilled worker visa, skilled trades visa, and experience class visa (CEC). 

Skilled Worker Visa

The skilled worker visa or Federal Skilled Worker Visa allows you to apply for permanent residence in Canada from Canada and your domestic country. Under this program, your qualifications are revised, as are your work experience and knowledge of English and French. You will need at least one year of skilled work experience (basically experience in a paid workplace) and 67 out of 100 points to rank. 

Quebec has its own Skilled Worker Program. This program is very much like the Federal Skilled Worker Program, with an advantage for those who speak French. These programs allow you to join the Skilled Worker Category for as long as you satisfy all other conditions outlined in the traditional skilled worker program. 

Skilled Trades Visa

As Canada experienced a period of quick economic expansion, it became clear that it lacked a skilled workforce to satisfy the demands of the work market. For this reason, this program was developed and joined under the Express Entry Program in 2013. If you have experience in areas sought after in Canada and have a minimum work experience of one year (full-time) or two years (part-time), you can apply for this program. To apply, you will also need a valid job application for a full-time position and a contract that is valid for at least a year. 

Experience Class Visa

This type of Canadian working visa will give you permanent residence status for as long as you have enough work experience in Canada before the application. The requirements are the same as for the Federal Skilled Worker Visa, but you will need to have accumulated a minimum experience of one year in Canada in the past ten years to be able to apply for the Canadian Experience Class visa. 

Visa for Provincial Nominee Program

As Canadian provinces and territories are somewhat politically independent, each province and territory has its own programs – the Provincial Nominee Programs. Under these programs, low-skilled workers can also come and work in Canada and contribute to a particular province’s economy. These programs sometimes demand a separate application, and sometimes, they draw the applicants from the Express Entry Program database. In any case, this is one more way to get on Canadian soil, and the PNP programs are a perfect chance to apply for Permanent Residence down the road. 

Student Visa

Student visas allow you to study in Canada. They are issued for the period of studies plus an additional 90 days after the expected graduation date. If your study visa has been issued for a shorter period of time, you will need to reapply, and you can do this from inside Canada, both on paper and electronically. These visas allow you to work on-campus and off-campus, depending on the conditions stated in the Visa or Study Permit. Sometimes, you may need an additional Student Work Permit to be able to work.

Temporary Visa

Types of temporary visas have been discussed before (under the section on visitor visas or temporary residence visas). However, there are more types related to temporary work permits in Canada. These programs allow you to work temporarily in Canada and to gain work experience. This experience can then be used to apply for the CEC program later on. When applying, please pay attention to the TRV processing time, as it may take a longer time to process than anticipated. 

Super Visa

Super Visas are issued to parents and grandparents of those who work in Canada and have a Permanent Residence. Unlike temporary work permits, these visas can be issued to all those who want to have their family nearby. They are issued for a specified period of time, for a maximum of 10 years. If you would like your family to come to Canada for a longer period of time, they can apply for permanent resident status through Canada’s Family Sponsorship Program. 

Transit Visa

A Transit Visa is the only visa type that is free to get. A transit visa is a special document issued to and put into your passport. Depending on your travel plans, you can transit through Canada 1-2 times for up to 48 hours. You cannot leave the transit airport with this kind of visa. The US and the UK have similar transit visas. If you are transiting to the US and come from China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, or Taiwan, you do not need this type of visa. 

Visa for Family-Sponsorship Program

Once you have settled in Canada and have obtained Permanent Residence Status, you can apply for visas for the family sponsorship program. Under this program, you can help sponsor your family members to come and live with you in Canada and enjoy all the benefits Canadian society offers: universal healthcare, free education, great social and nativization programs, and joining the Canadian labour market. You can sponsor: 

  • Your spouse or conjugal partner, or a common-law partner (Canada does not recognize multiple marriages or multiple wives, etc.) 
  • Dependent children (especially if under the age of 18 and still in school)
  • Parents 
  • Grandparents
  • Children and grandchildren 

Criteria for Obtaining a Canadian Visa

Even if you have a job offer and proper work experience, even the highest-scoring applicants will need to fulfill certain criteria or prerequisites for a Canadian visa. These include: 

  • Have a valid travel document (valid passport) 
  • To be in good health, 
  • To have passed the required medical check-up 
  • To have a letter of invitation from someone living in Canada or to have a job offer and proof of accommodation payment from Canada
  • To have sufficient funds to support yourself while in Canada (unless you have a job offer or a sponsor)
  • To have sufficient proof that you plan to go back to your country, especially if on a student visa or other types of temporary residence visa (such as a tourist visa)
  • To have proof that you will go back to your citizenship country at the end of your stay in Canada

You may not apply for a Canadian visa if you are involved in criminal or organized criminal activities, human rights violations, terrorist groups, or human trafficking. 

Required Documents for a Canadian Visa

When applying for a Canadian visa, even with previous Canadian work experience, you will still need to present many documents to be granted access. Although every program is different and has different documents that you should present, there are the basic documents that each and every program applicant should be able to present when applying for any visa type, whether with the Federal Government or with the Provincial Government.

Authentic Passport

You must present your passport for verification purposes and a photocopy of the first page. The first page (or any other page containing these details) will have to have the following information on it: the name, photo, place of residence and birth date, passport number, date of issue, and date of expiration. The passport should be biometric and have your international code (if your country recognizes/provides these). 

Visa Application Form for Canada

When filling up the application package form (available on the IRCC website – Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada). You will also need a document checklist, as well as additional documents that are presented to you during your application process. 

Evidence of Payment of Canada Visa Fees

When presenting the evidence of payment, a simple bank statement will suffice. You should have either two or a single one outlining the two fees to be paid: the processing fee (different for every program) and the biometrics fee (CAD85 for most programs at the time of writing). 

Visa Photographs

You will also need to submit two visa photographs. They should be of the same standard as your passport photos, and you will need them as required documents. Without them, no processing of your application can take place. 

Proof of Adequate Funds

You must also present proof of adequate funds to support yourself during your stay in Canada. Depending on the program and whether you have a valid job offer or not, as well as whether your stay in Canada will be sponsored, you may not need these funds. If you do, you will need to present your own bank statement from a bank in Canada or in your domestic country. Alternatively, your parents, family members, relatives, and even close friends can show that they have sufficient funds to support you there for as long as these funds are dedicated to your support in Canada. 

Returning to Your Home Country Proof

This is a puzzling type of document to submit, as every country may show connections to it in different ways. First, any proof of ownership or the rights of use of property and similar statuses can be considered proof of the intent to return home. These documents can include: 

  • Citizenship certificate
  • Birth certificate
  • Proof of Ownership of a Property 
  • Proof of a Lease on a Property or a Vehicle that you will not take with you to Canada
  • Proof of Employment in the Country of Citizenship (and proof of having a paid leave for the time period when you will be in Canada) 
  • Utility Bills and similar bills 
  • Proof of Future Plans in the Domestic Country (wedding, building a property, a pregnant spouse, etc.) and many more

Documents of Identity and Civil Status

Photocopies of Identification documents and various documents confirming your civil status. You will need a photocopy of the standard ID documents, such as your ID card, your driver’s license, or any other document (such as your healthcare insurance card), for as long as it has your photo and identification data on its front or back side. Electronic documents may serve better than those printed on paper, even if plasticized).

Police Verification

Police verification or police clearance is a document showing that there are currently no investigations against you. This document can also show that there are no records of criminal activities connected to your persona or name and that you do not have a police or criminal file. The visa officer may demand even more documents to prove this. 

Report of Medical Examination

Different countries have different prerequisites when it comes to the medical examination. In general, if you will be in contact with many people during your stay in Canada or will be working in a workplace where you are expected to handle food, you may be asked to submit a medical examination or medical clearance. The same goes if you’ve travelled to countries with problematic healthcare systems to countries with known epidemic outbreaks (Zika, Yellow Fever, COVID-19, etc.). This document will have to be issued by an approved physician/family doctor. 

Letter Outlining the Visit’s Purpose

This letter should outline the purpose and possibly the itinerary of your visit. You should be able to clearly state where you will be travelling to, for which purpose, and possibly give the dates when you will be visiting certain locales. With this in mind, a sponsor letter, the contact information of people who will sponsor your stay in Canada, paid train/bus/plane tickets, and lodging payment information/proof can all be used to show the intent behind your visit. 

Invitation to Canada/Letter of Support

A letter of invitation to Canada or a letter of support or a letter of sponsorship are all the names for a single document that is issued by a Canadian citizen or a Canadian permanent resident. This document should outline the purpose of your visit, a formal declaration of sponsorship and financial support, as well as the name, birth date, and phone number of the person sponsoring or inviting you to Canada. 

Minor’s Visa Document Requirements in Canada

When it comes to minors travelling to Canada, the same rules apply, and the same documents are needed for the application process. Depending on a case-by-case basis, more documents may be needed. These include: 

  • Travel authorization by both parents (one in the case of a single-parent family) in English or French. In case of a translation, only a sworn court translator can translate and stamp both the original and the translation of the letter. This authorization should include the information on both parents, with their names and phone numbers and address(es), as well as the name, phone number, and address of the person the minor will be staying in Canada.
  • In case of a minor travelling with one parent, contact and identity details of the other parent will be needed.
  • Photocopy of the passport of the parent not travelling.
  • National identity card (photocopy) of the parent not travelling.
  • Letter of authorization from the parent not travelling.
  • Custody decree photocopy in case the child has one legal guardian
  • Death Certificate in case one parent has passed away.
  • Guardianship or adoption certificate in case the child is adopted.
  • When a minor is travelling with someone who is not the legal guardian or a parent, they will need to have written permission from one or both parents or legal guardians, with phone numbers and addresses of both parents or guardians.
canada visitor visa requirements
Applying for a Canadian Visa

How To Apply for a Canadian Visa?

When you apply for a Canadian visa, you should know that the application process and the processing time can vary depending on the type of visa you are applying for and the current backlog of other visa applications. The only exemption here is the eTA, which has a typical processing time of around five minutes if everything is OK with your application. This being said, let’s consider the application process in more detail: 

Find out If You Qualify for A Visa to Canada

There are a number of online tests and questionnaires that should help you determine whether you are eligible for a Canadian visa or not. When looking for them, you should always give priority to those issued by the Canadian government, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Always take these as an indicator rather than as a rule of thumb, as each visa application is processed separately from any online tests. 

Make an Account on The Internet

Online registration is a necessity in any case. You will need to make an online account, and there, you will be informed whether you can make an online application or have to apply for a visa in person. There are two ways to make an online account with IRCC: obtaining a Canada login key (GCKey) or using the online banking login that you would otherwise use to log in with your online bank. 

Complete the Document File Compilation

Once you have made the online account, you should answer a few questions or go straight to the application for the type of visa the tests stated you need. When in doubt, use logical reasoning. Have all the documents ready, and make sure you have electronic copies as well. You will need to upload them all at once. If you cannot submit all the documents at once, you will need to send them afterward, which can complicate and prolong the process unnecessarily. 

Pay the Charges

You will be taken to the payment page when you have uploaded all the required documents. You will need a credit or a debit card for this part of the process and to pay the fees. There will be two fees to pay, and it will take five working days for the payment to be registered in the system. 

Wait for Your Canadian Visa to Be Processed

Once this is all done, you must wait for the normal processing time. Normally, it will take at least two weeks to process some types of visas, although any missed documents and any tardiness on your side will translate to more tardiness on the system’s side. If you submit your documents by mail, you should also count in the regular mailing time, which is the main reason we recommend online applications whenever it makes sense. 

Send in Your Passport Together with The Processing Payments

At the end of the waiting period, you will be informed of the status of your visa application. If you have been accepted, you will have to send your valid passport to the embassy, together with your processing fees, and you will have to pay for the return mailing process as well – in the embassy or a consular office, the visa will be applied to the passport, and it will be sent back to you. 

What is a Canadian Electronic Travel Authorization?

If you come from one of the visa-exempt countries to Canada, you will need an eTA (electronic Travel Authorization). This document serves the purpose of a temporary visitor visa and is intended to reduce the waiting times for visa approval. This document allows you to enter and stay in Canada for up to six months but prohibits you from applying for any Canada-issued documents or reap any social benefits, such as free healthcare. 

Check Out A Guide to the Canadian Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA):

FAQs

How Long Canadian Visa Take?

The Canadian visa can take anywhere between two to four weeks to process. Some visa renewals can take around 20 days, with up to 140 days for electronic student permit renewal. Always check the processing times before applying for a visa. 

Which Country Gives Visa Easily?

Canada is one of the developed countries that will give you their visa easily. Canada does have a strict immigration protocol, but their good and lax immigration policies allow many people to apply for their visas and allow them to get the visa within months, as long as all the requirements have been fulfilled. Canada also has over 80 immigration programs, for anyone with full-time work experience to those who would like to visit Canada for a short study period there. 

Which Type of Canada Visa Is Easy to Get?

There is no easier visa to Canada. There are different visas and different ways to apply. The visa-equivalent is the eTA, with processing times that can be as short as five minutes. In reality, the only true visa program for permanent citizenship is the Express Entry program, which can finish the entire processing time in as little as two weeks and can allow you to be in Canada in just a bit over those six months. Student visas also have a short waiting time, with as little as 20 days of processing time. 

Who Can Sponsor Me from Canada?

If you’re looking for ways to migrate to Canada, you may have heard that there are different ways to immigrate there on sponsorship programs. For these programs, you will need a family member in Canada who can sponsor you for as long as they are your spouse, child, grandchild, parent, grandparent, a sibling, or an adoptee. They will need to make an official statement and provide funds for your support while you are in Canada. These programs are usually used for short-term visits to Canada, while there are separate Family-sponsorship programs for permanent residence of your family members. If interested, you should look into each type of sponsorship application. 

Final Thoughts

Canada’s economic growth dictates that many people should enter the country and fill up all the work positions, as the domestic population is not enough for this. Over time, Canada has introduced dozens of immigration programs, each of which can give you a type of visa suited to your needs. There are many types of visas in Canada, suited to those who would like to visit, study, or even work in Canada, and these programs are all available worldwide for as long as you fulfill the requirements.