Visas & Permits for Canada

With more than $50,000 of GDP per capita, Canada appears to be one of the top destinations for immigrants. Moreover, Canadian cities are recognized to be among the best ones in the world to live in. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise that many people want to try their chances and move to this country, which forces the federal government to ensure a strict foreign policy. Depending on your nationality, you might need a Canadian visa for visiting the country. Work permits are needed for anyone who has another nationality than the Canadian one and wants to work in Canada.

Types of Canadian visas and permits

All in all, there are four types of Canadian visas and permits, namely:

  1. Tourist Visa. This is a typical visa required for visiting the country with the purpose of tourism for up to 180 days. Citizens of some countries (mostly European countries, the EU, Japan, and South Korea) do not need a Canadian visa for the touristic purposes. However, all other tourists have to go to the Canadian embassy and apply for a Canadian visa for touristic purposes.
  2. Transit Visa. This visa is typically granted to the citizens of those countries that are required to get a tourist visa for entering Canada and used for flight transfer. A transit visa is valid for no more than 48 hours.
  3. Study Permit. Study permits are granted to the students who have enrolled in Canadian universities and who need to live in Canada with the purpose of studying.
  4. Work Permit. Granted to all immigrants who came to Canada for working and living.

Canadian visa

The maximum period of the Canadian tourist visa to be valid is 6 months

Study in Canada

Each year, more than 130,000 students enroll in the Canadian universities, and the federal government is trying to attract more students to the country. High quality of education and moderate costs (compared to the costs of studying in the United States) are appealing for many students.

So, if you are planning to study in Canada for longer than 6 months, you may need a study permit that you can obtain from the Canadian embassy, consulate, or high commission. If your training will take less than 6 months, you are able to apply for a Canadian visa for the touristic purposes and stay in Canada on the basis of that visa. We highly recommend you not to start your studies by entering the country with a Canadian visa for touristic purposes, because, once the visa is expired, you might be asked to leave the country and apply for a study permit from your home country. This will just cause more mess.

However, there are groups of people who are able to study in Canada without having to apply for a study permit, including:

  • Workers of embassies of other countries and their family members;
  • The children of refugees or immigrants who are seeking permanent residence in the country;
  • Anyone whose training program lasts less than 6 months.

Work in Canada

Over 100,000 workers come to Canada every year, even though a large share of them are temporary workers. In order to work in Canada (even temporarily), you need a work permit. The number of work permits granted annually is limited and depends on the situation in the Canadian labour market.

canadian work permit

Once you have completed the procedure for obtaining a work permit, you will be able to get it from CBSA

The first thing you must do in order to get a work permit is to find a job in Canada. Once have found an employer who is willing to hire you as a foreigner, the employer must apply to the HRSDC (Human Resources and Skills Development Canada) institution, which has to give a positive “opinion” about you being hired by that employer. The chances of your job to be confirmed will be higher, if you possess skills and knowledge that the Canadian companies lack. For instance, if you are a top-notch accountant, while there is a lack of top-tier accountants in the market.

Once your job has been confirmed and the positive assessment has been received, you will become eligible to apply for a work permit. You, as a foreign worker, should collect the required documents and apply for a work permit to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) – the list of the documents required you can find on the website of the ESDC. If you are going to work in Quebec, then you might need to receive a Certificat d’acceptation du Quebec (known as CAQ).

An officer of the Canada Border Services Agency, known as CBSA, will issue a work permit for you at the entry point, when you will just arrive to Canada. All work permits issued in Canada are temporary, yet they can be extended during your stay in Canada.

canada tourist visa

There are certain groups of people who don’t need an approval from the HRSDC

There are certain groups of workers who don’t need to get a positive assessment from the HRSDC for receiving a work permit, namely:

  • People who undertake work in the spheres of charity or religion;
  • Foreign students who study in Canada;
  • Individuals who need to work in Canada with a purpose of supporting themselves financially, such as refugees with the processes of their status consideration to be delayed;
  • Spouses and common-law partners of: people who undertake post-graduation work, certain groups of foreign students, and skilled foreigners;
  • Individuals who are employed in Canada on the conditions of employment of some Canadian abroad, such as teachers’ exchange programs, etc.;
  • Some groups of entrepreneurs and other workers who provide considerable benefits to the Canadians and the Canadian economy;
  • Professional traders and investors from the NAFTA countries (Mexico, the United States, and Canada).

Becoming a Canadian citizen

In order to become a Canadian citizen, you have to meet certain conditions, namely:

  • To be older than 18 years old;
  • Live at least 3 out of 4 last years in Canada;
  • To be a permanent resident of Canada;
  • Possess knowledge about the Canadian society and your rights and responsibilities in the society;
  • Speak at least one out of two official languages (French and English).

Once you are ready to become a Canadian, you should apply for the Canadian Citizenship Certificate to the Citizenship Application Processing Office. The entire process might take from several months up to several years, so be patient. Prior to sending the documents, you will be asked to pass a short test, certifying your knowledge about the Canadian society.

The following documents must be collected:

  • A copy of the document certifying your status of a permanent resident;
  • Two photos (the size as in your passport) taken not longer than 12 months ago;
  • The application fees of $200 ($100 for the Right of Citizenship and $100 for the Application);
  • Copies of two documents certifying your identity (such as a driving license and a passport);
  • Signatures and statements of guarantors;
  • The application form you have filled in.

Useful sources

If you need to find out more about how to get a Canadian visa or a work permit from the federal government, you can make use of the following sources:

Document checklist for a Canadian visa for touristic purposes

The website of the Canadian government: Work in Canada

GlobalVisas: Canada Immigration

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

HRSDC