Visas and Passports in Canada

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: January 2014

Canada is a very popular country with immigrants, and, as a result of this, rules for entering the country are strict. To enter Canada, you will always need a valid passport, or an equivalent travel document if you are a stateless person or refugee. Passports and other travel documents must be valid until you plan to leave the country. In addition to a valid passport, you may need a visa to immigrate into Canada.

No Visa Required

If you are a citizen or passport holder from one of around 60 territories you will not need to obtain a visa to enter Canada. Most of these territories or states are either in Europe or are Western, as can be seen from the list of visa requirements on this page:

As a non-visa visitor you will be permitted to stay as for up to 90 days. If you want to extend your stay in Canada beyond this, you will need to apply for a residence permit (temporary or permanent) a month before your stay is due to end. To stay in Canada for longer than 90 days, you will always need a visa.

Visa Types

There are several types of visa available for those who want to stay in Canada long-term.  Many of these visas are awarded via special schemes that both allow entry and confer permanent residence on the successful applicant. One of the most popular is the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Program. This scheme enables those who have at least a year’s experience in certain professions and fulfil certain other criteria to gain preferential entry into Canada. Entry into the scheme is points-based; to be successful you need to obtain 67 points out of a maximum of 100. The highest amount of points are awarded for your educational background, skills in English and French and relevant work experience. The applicable sectors – all of which contain positions that are in short supply in Canada – include engineering, IT and medicine. A full list of the skilled positions applicable to the scheme can be found here:

Quebec has its own version of FSW Scheme, the Quebec-selected Skilled Worker Scheme, in which the emphasis on French language skills is increased. Other such schemes include the Federal Skilled Trades Program, which applies to trade workers such as builders and electricians, and works in a similar way to the FSW Program. Business visa schemes are also available, such as the Entrepreneur Immigrant Visa and the unique Start-Up Visa, which enables entrepreneurs with new business ideas to immigrate to Canada and find the expert help they need to bring their plans into fruition. Otherwise, permanent resident visas are issued to those who want to study or live in Canada long-term.

Visa Application

You must obtain a visa before you leave your home country. To apply for a visa, you will first need to visit the nearest Canadian embassy, consulate, or visa application centre in person to obtain the correct application form.

All visa application forms are available in English and French. Whichever visa you apply for, you will need the following documents:

You may also need to supply your biometrics (fingerprints and face scan), and may have to undergo a medical test as part the application process.




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