Though this information has been thoroughly researched and organized, this section is intended for reference only. Standards a requirements can change quickly and strongly depend on individual circumstances. We recommend that you contact the embassy directly for the most up-to-date information that pertains to your specific situation.
The Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) regulates immigration and provides visas and information. On their site you can find offices, find forms, pay fees, check application and processing status, and more. Officers of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) are responsible for protecting the borders and points of entry to Canada and are stationed at point of entry (border crossing, airports) to inspect documents and allow for entry.
You must have a valid passport to travel abroad. A passport is an official government document that certifies one's identity and citizenship. The process and cost associated with getting a passport can be high, so start the process at least six months before you plan to leave. Your passport must be valid 6 months beyond your intended stay. Minors are allowed to travel on their parents' passports up until aged 15 years.
A visa is a stamp or endorsement placed by officials on a passport that allows the bearer to enter the country. This permission is called "entry clearance".
Many passport holders or permanent residents do not need a visa to visit Canada for short visits of under 6 months. The length of time you may stay in Canada without a visa varies according to your country of origin and other factors. If you are a citizen of a country where you do not require a visa to visit Canada, you must still:
Have a valid travel document (such as a passport)
Be in good health
Satisfy an immigration officer that you have ties, such as a job, home, financial assets and family, that will take you back to your country of origin
Satisfy an immigration officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your visit Prove that you have enough money for your stay. The amount of money you will need can vary with the circumstances of the visit, how long you will stay and whether you will stay in a hotel or with friends or relatives.
All documents that you enclose with your application which are written in a language other than French or English must be accompanied by an official translation into French or English and approved by an accredited translator.
*Citizens of British dependent territories: You do not need a visa to visit or transit in Canada if you are a citizen of a British dependent territory who derives their citizenship through birth, descent, registration or naturalization in one of the British dependent territories of Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena or the Turks and Caicos Islands. British National (Overseas): You do not need a visa to visit or transit in Canada if you hold a British National (Overseas) passport issued by the United Kingdom to persons born, naturalized or registered in Hong Kong.
To find out more about countries that do require a visa, go to the CIC's complete list.
Starting in 2013, CIC plans to require nationals of 29 countries and 1 territory to appear in person to have their fingerprints and photograph taken when they apply for a temporary resident visa, study or work permit.
Visitors come to Canada as a tourist, to visit family and friends, or on business. Citizens not from the countries above will need to apply for a visit or Transit visa. Note that it is not usually possible to convert a tourist visa into work visa.
If you are planning on applying for a Visitor Visa, you first must obtain an Visitor Visa application package. The fee per person is $150 for a multiple entry visa, $75 for a single entry visa or $400 for a family (multiple or single entry). In most countries, application fees must be paid in Canadian dollars. If you plan to visit Canada more than once, a multiple entry visa is recommended. Use the interactive map to find out where to submit your application.
Currently, paper applications take about 100 days and online applications take about 85 days. Processing times are subject to change and are updated weekly on the CIC site.
If you are interested in studying in Canada you need to apply for a study permit. You must apply for a study permit before you come to Canada, and should apply as soon as you receive your letter of acceptance. Permits are available for 1 to 3 years and can be extended. The standard fee is $125.
Study permit holders can obtain a temporary work visa that allows you to work up to 20 hours per week either on or off campus while you remain enrolled full-time. You must be admitted to study in an eligible Canadian institution, have no criminal record, provide evidence of good physical health and demonstrate that you will be able to cover your expenses, including tuition, while you are in Canada.
If you do not require a visa for entrance and wish to study in Canada for less than six months, you do not need a study permit. You also may not need a study permit if you are accompanying a family member who is accredited by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada as a staff member or foreign representative. If you are a uniformed member of the armed services of foreign countries serving under the Visiting Forces Act, you may also be eligible to study in Canada without obtaining a student visa. However, any family members that accompany you, including your minor children, must apply for temporary residence visas.
Currently, paper applications take about 80 days and online applications take about 40 days. Processing times are subject to change and are updated weekly on the CIC site.
If your application is approved, you will receive a letter of introduction confirming the approval. This letter is not your study permit. Bring the letter of introduction with you to show to immigration officials at the point of entry when you arrive in Canada. A temporary resident visa (TRV) will be issued if you are from a designated country for which Canada requires a visa. The expiry date on this visa indicates the date by which you must enter Canada. The TRV will also indicate if you can enter Canada only once (a single-entry visa) or if you can enter Canada multiple times (a multiple-entry visa). If there are no problems at the point of entry, the officer will let you enter Canada and will issue your study permit.
If your application is not approved, the visa office will send you a letter explaining why your application has been refused. An application might be refused for several reasons:
If you have questions about your refusal, contact the visa office that issued the refusal letter (details will be supplied in the letter).
According to the country and the language spoken, it may also be called the Permis Vacances-Travail (PVT), the Visa Vacances-Travail (VVT), the Working Holiday Program (WHP) or the Programa de Vacaciones y Trabajo (PVT). Best known in Canada as the International Experience Canada (IEC) initiative, this program provides work permits to young people aged 18-35 who are from one of the countries that have a bilateral reciprocal youth mobility arrangement or agreement with Canada (for the list, see our article on Jobs/Summer, Seasonal and Short-Term Jobs).
The 4 categories include: Working Holiday, Young Professionals, Internship related to studies, and Summer jobs.
This program also allows for people to find independent / freelance work. You still must prepare invoices and report this activity on a Canadian tax return (however, you don't have a right to Social Security).
The downside is that this program fills up very quickly. The program for 2012 filled up within 12 days! Generally, quotas open in the fall and there is no waiting list.
If you want to work in Canada, you must apply for a work permit, either as a skilled worker, a temporary worker or a provincial nominee. In most cases, you will need to submit your application before you arrive in Canada. You have a much shorter wait if you can qualify as a sponsored applicant, or have a job offer that you have obtained from your own efforts or through the provincial nominee program. In some cases you may be required to submit to a medical exam from a physician on Canada's list of Panel Physicians as well as police certificate check in addition to your application. Work permit generally cost $150 per person, but the total amount will not exceed $450 in the case of a group of three or more performing artists and their staff who apply at the same time and place.
Select positions do not require a work permit:
Under the Canada-Québec Accord, Québec establishes its own immigration requirements. Québec selects its skilled workers in two stages.
You must first apply to the Québec government.
Then, applicants must make a separate application to CIC for permanent residence.
After an applicant has been accepted, they are required to undergo a medical exam from a physician on Canada's list of Panel Physicians as well as police certificate check. CIC requires these checks for all immigrants, regardless of where they intend to settle in Canada.
After an application has been completed, a CIC officer verifies that you have a correctly completed application, paid processing fee and any supporting documents. If your application is not complete, it will be returned to you unprocessed. The Centralized Intake Office (CIO) will contact you when it receives your completed application.
If you wish to have your spouse or de facto spouse immigrate with you, the latter must complete an Application for selection certificate - Principal applicant, spouse or de facto spouse - separate from yours.
If you are applying from Haiti, find out about Québec-Haiti Humanitarian Sponsorship.
Currently, paper applications for new employer take about 75 days and online applications take about 74 days; paper applications for the same employer take about 80 days and online applications take about 74 days. Processing times are subject to change and are updated weekly on the CIC site.
Temporary Worker Visas may be offered to applicants who can help Canadian employers address skill shortages, or to work as live-in care givers. Employers must obtain a letter from the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada stating that employing you will not cause an adverse effect on the labor market for eligible Canadians.
Holders of the visa may also bring your spouse or common-law partner and your children, however, each family member must submit separate applications for temporary visa status. If your spouse or common-law partner wishes to work, he or she must also apply for a work permit.
Persons who immigrate to Canada under the Provincial Nominee Program have the skills, education and work experience needed to make an immediate economic contribution to the province or territory that nominates them. They have been assessed as being able to economically establish themselves successfully as permanent residents in Canada. The Québec Provincial Nominee Program is designed its own point system grid and anyone who achieves the required number of points could qualify for the nomination by the Province of Québec and could qualify for the permanent residence visa for Canada. Contrary to popular belief, it does not necessarily require applicants to speak French.
Effective July 1, 2012, most Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) applicants to semi- or low-skilled professions will need language testing. This test will show whether your language proficiency meets a minimum standard in each of these four categories: listening, speaking, reading and writing. This does not apply if you are a temporary foreign worker in a NOC C & D occupation, and who entered Canada on or before July 1, 2012, and are nominated by an employer under the PNP streams by July 1, 2013.
A permanent resident card entitles a foreigner to stay in Canada. There are several different options:
Sponsorship is possible if you have an eligible spouse, partner, parent (including adoptive parent) or other family member who is a citizen of Canada or who holds permanent resident status, and who is willing to sponsor your application for permanent resident status, your chances of being admitted to Canada as a permanent resident are much greater. Citizens and permanent residents may also sponsor other relatives (such as dependent children) under the Family Class category if they have no eligible dependents, spouses or partners or have previously sponsored all other eligible dependents, spouses or partners. Your sponsor must be at least age 18 and agree to provide for your financial support once you arrive in Canada if you are unable to provide for your own financial needs. This qualifies you for sponsorship under the Family Class designation without the need to meet stringent financial requirements.
In addition to the required documents, If you do not presently live with your sponsoring family member, your sponsor will also need to complete a sponsorship application.
Sponsorship application is $266 for the first applicant, with $107 for each additional applicant. The fees required must be paid in full, in Canadian currency only, by you or by a third party, at the time the application is dropped off or mailed. These fees are not reimbursed, even if your application is refused.
To acquire citizenship, there are rigid requirements that must be satisfied. In these complicated matters, it is in your best interest to take personalized professional advice from a solicitor or from an immigration adviser.
Once you have lived in Québec for three years, you can apply for Canadian citizenship with the Government of Canada. You must pass six categories:
If you are an adult (age 18 or older), you need to complete Application for Canadian Citizenship - Adults (Under age 18 should fill out Application for Canadian Citizenship - Minors). The application package contains an instruction guide. Read these instructions carefully, complete the form and attach photocopies of your documents. Do not send the originals. You will have to show the originals when you come for your test or interview, so remember to bring them with you. If you apply for more than one person and want your applications processed together, you can submit all the forms and documents in the same envelope. If the applications are sent in different envelopes, they will be processed separately. If you are sending more than one application and one of the applications is incomplete, all the applications will be returned to you. If your application is signed more than three months before we receive it or if it is dated into the future, we will send it back to you. You must be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship the day before you sign the application form.
Submit your application by mail:
Case Processing Centre - Sydney
P.O. Box 7000
Sydney, Nova Scotia B1P 6V6
Or By courier:
Case Processing Centre - Sydney
47-49 Dorchester Street
Sydney, Nova Scotia
Application fees may be paid online, or at a financial institution in Canada. To pay in person, obtain an original payment receipt form (IMM 5401).
Processing times are based on how long it took to process 80 percent of all cases between July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012. From receipt of application to citizenship ceremony is currently 21 months. Check on your status online at https://services3.cic.gc.ca/ecas/?app=ecas&lang=en.
Countries may decide whom it considers to be a citizen and if more than one country recognizes you as a citizen, you have dual citizenship. Canadians are allowed to take foreign citizenship while keeping their Canadian citizenship, giving them the ability to have dual citizenship. If you are a permanent resident but not a Canadian citizen, ask the embassy of your country of citizenship about its rules before applying for Canadian citizenship.
Use the CIC's online self-assessment tool to find out your status.
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