A visitor means a person who is lawfully in Canada, or seeks to come into Canada for a temporary purpose (such as work, study or visit) and who is not a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or the holder of a minister’s permit.
Every visitor, unless exempted, must apply for and obtain a visa before appearing at a Port of Entry (POE). All visitors who are required to obtain a visa must be in possession of the visa when they appear at a POE.
As of March 15, 2016, all foreign nationals travelling by air from visa-exempt countries require an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to enter Canada. This includes transit passengers. For more information, click here.
The Canadian visitor visa application involves a two-step process:
First Step: The foreign national must first submit a visit visa application to the responsible Canadian visa office in the country or region where they reside. At this time, the applicant may need to attend an interview where the visa officer will verify the applicant’s reasons for visiting Canada, the applicant’s ability or willingness to leave Canada within the visa validity date and the applicant’s overall admissibility to Canada.
Second Step: Once a visit visa has been issued, the applicant may land in Canada. At the port of entry an immigration officer will question the applicant to ensure admissibility.
A visitor visa may be for single entry or multiple entry use. Single entry visas may be issued up to six months before the expected date of travel. The maximum validity date for multiple entry visitor visas is up to five (5) years or one month prior to the expiry date on the passport/re-entry visa, whichever is earlier. POE officers will routinely grant entry for a period of six months to a person requesting entry as a visitor.
A foreign national who has an immigrant visa already in process is not prohibited from applying for a temporary resident visa.