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Which Canadian Visa Do I Need?

Whether you intend to come to Canada permanently, or just temporarily, people from most countries need a Canadian visa to make it into the country. Do you know which Canadian visa you need?

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Answer some quick questions to get an idea about what kind of visa you need to come to Canada!

Please keep in mind that these are general guidelines only. If you need help determining which Canadian visa is right for your particular case, or applying for a visa, please feel free to contact us today.

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If you want to come to Canada permanently, you need to get a permanent resident (PR) visa. To get a PR visa, you must be eligible for an existing Canadian immigration program. It doesn’t matter whether you’re eligible for a federal program or one of the programs run by a province, the end result of all Canadian immigration programs is a PR visa.

Permanent residents get most of the same benefits of Canadian citizens, like access to public education and health care coverage. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms also guarantees permanent residents’ freedom of mobility, so you can live and work anywhere in Canada.

Unlike Canadian citizens, permanent residents can’t vote or run for political office. You also have to meet certain residency requirements in order to maintain your Canadian permanent residence.


If you only plan to come to Canada for a while before returning to your home country, then you need a temporary resident visa (TRV). TRVs are issued for students, temporary foreign workers, and visitors, and are only valid for a specific amount of time. One of the main conditions of receiving a TRV is satisfying the visa officer reviewing your case that you will respect the expiration date on your TRV and leave the country.

There are some countries that have signed agreements with Canada allowing their citizens to enter the country without a visa. These are called visa-exempt countries. If you are from a visa-exempt country, you will not need a visa to visit Canada as long as you do not intend to study or work while here. However, if you are planning on arriving in Canada by air, you will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). The only exception is citizens of the United States, who can enter Canada on their United States passports without a TRV or eTA.

You can come to Canada on a TRV as a student, a worker, or a visitor.



If you want to study in Canada, you need to get a study permit. If you have a study permit, you are automatically issued a TRV to enter Canada for the duration of your study permit.

To be eligible for a study permit, you need to have a letter of acceptance from a Canadian school, along with meeting other requirements like demonstrating sufficient funds and not being criminally or medically inadmissible. Your study permit is usually valid for the same length of time as the program of study you have been accepted into.

If you’d like to stay in Canada and work after your studies, you may be eligible for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP).


If you want to study at a school in the province of Québec, you will need a Québec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ). You must apply for a CAQ before you can apply for a study permit if the school you intend to study at is located in Québec. You can’t apply for a CAQ until you have been accepted into a program at a Québec school.

You do not need a CAQ if the school you have been accepted at is outside of Québec.



There are a lot of different types of work permits available to come to Canada to work, but they can be broadly split into open work permits and employer-specific work permits. If you have a work permit, you are automatically issued a TRV to enter Canada for the duration of your work permit.


An open work permit is a type of work permit that allows a person to work for any employer anywhere in Canada, without needing a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). An LMIA is a document that demonstrates the employer tried and failed to find a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to fill the position being offered to a foreign national.

There are only a few situations where someone would be eligible for an open worker permit. Adults accompanying their family members on a study permit, for example, may be eligible to apply for an open work permit. If you are eligible for the Working Holiday category of the International Experience Canada (IEC) program, you may also be able to apply for an open work permit.


If you have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer, you may be eligible to come to Canada on an employer-specific work permit.

An employer-specific work permit indicates the name of the employer you can work for, how long you can work, and the location where you can work (if applicable). If you want to change jobs once you’re in Canada, you would need to apply for a new work permit.

Generally, employer-specific work permits require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). An LMIA is a document that demonstrates the employer tried and failed to find a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to fill the position being offered to a foreign national.

Some employer-specific work permits are LMIA-exempt, meaning they do not require an LMIA. For example, citizens of countries who have signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) who are working in an occupation eligible under NAFTA do not require an LMIA.



A post-graduation work permit (PGWP) is an open work permit that allows some international graduates in Canada to live and work for any employer in Canada following their studies. The validity period of the PGWP depends on the length of your program of study, but could be up to three years.


International Experience Canada (IEC) is a program that allows youth to travel and work in Canada. To participate, your country of citizenship must have an agreement with Canada that allows you to apply. There are three travel and work experiences under IEC:

  1. Working Holiday: If you don’t have a job offer yet, want to work for more than one employer or in more than one location, and would like to earn some money so you can travel, you may be able to apply for an open work permit under the Working Holiday category.
  2. Young ProfessionalsIf you have a job offer in Canada that contributes to your professional development and want to work for the same employer in the same location during your stay in Canada, you may be bale to apply for an employer-specific work permit under the Young Professionals category.
  3. International Co-op Internship: If you are a student registered at a post-secondary institution, have a job offer for a work placement or internship in Canada, need to do this work placement or internship to complete your studies, and want to work for the same employer in the same location during your stay in Canada, you may be able to apply for an employer-specific work permit under the International Co-op Internship category.



There are a few different types of visitor visas to Canada. They can be divided into singly-entry and multiple-entry visas.


A single-entry visitor visa allows you to come to Canada only one time, for a set amount of time. Once you have left Canada, you will need a new visitor visa to return to Canada, even if your initial visa is still valid.


A multiple-entry visitor visa allows visitors to come and go from Canada for up to six months at a time, without having to reapply each time. It can be valid for up to ten years, or one month before your passport expires. Since February 2014, all visa applicants will automatically be considered for a multiple-entry visa, even if they originally applied for a single-entry visa.

Generally, whether you are on a single-entry or multiple-entry visa, you can remain in Canada for a period of up to six months. However, there are some exceptions, such as the Super Visa for Parents and Grandparents. Once that period is over, you must leave the country. However, you may also be able to apply to extend your stay.


The Parent and Grandparent Super Visa is an extended stay temporary resident visa for parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens or permanent residents. If you are the parent or grandparent of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you may be able to come to Canada on a super visa.

The super visa is a multiple-entry visa valid for up to 10 years. That means that, with a super visa, you can enter and leave Canada for up to 10 years from the time the visa is issued. You may have visitor status in Canada for up to 24 months on each visit.


If you don’t plan to work or study while in Canada, and are from a visa-exempt country, you do not need a visa to visit Canada temporarily. However, you may need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). You only need an eTA if you are planning on arriving in Canada by air. If you have a valid Canadian visa, you do not need an eTA. Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, are ineligible to apply for an eTA. So dual citizens seeking to enter Canada must do so on a Canadian passport.

The notable exception to this rule is citizens of the United States, who can enter Canada to visit without an eTA.



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The Canadim Team!

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