In Canada there are 2 different types of Visas: Temporary Resident Visas (TRV) and Permanent Resident Cards (PRC).
Temporary Resident Visa
The TRV is the most commonly used visa used by anyone from a designated country wishing to visit Canada either for pleasure or business. Also known as a Visitor’s Visa, this document will likely need to be combined with other permits if one seeks to visit Canada for work or study purposes.
There are 3 types of TRV’s:
- Single Entry: This visa only allows you to enter the country once. These visas are usually valid for 6 months.
- Multiple Entry: This visa allows you to enter and leave Canada as often as you wish for as long as the visa is valid, which is usually 6 months.
- Transit: This visa is for people who are only passing through Canada on their way to another country. They’re usually good for 48 hours.
It’s also important to know that, although passports are required for everyone entering Canada, you do not require a visa if you’re entering Canada under the following circumstances:
- You’re a citizen of any of the following countries: Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Botswana, Brunei, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel (National Passport holders only), Italy, Japan, Korea (Republic of ), Latvia (Republic of), Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, San Marino, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Slovenia, Switzerland, United States, and Western Samoa.
- You are a foreigner who is lawfully living in the United States and in possession of a Green card.
- You are a British citizen and or a citizen of a British dependent territory such as Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena or the Turks and Caicos Islands
- You are a citizen of Hong Kong and hold a passport issued by either the British of Chinese government
- You are in possession of a passport issued by the Holy See
For a more comprehensive list of TRV exemptions, you can visit http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp. If you do not fit the criteria, a TRV is required before you enter Canada.
Getting a TRV
To apply for a TRV, you need to either download the application form at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/visa.asp or contact your local Canadian embassy. A list of Canadian embassies is at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/offices/missions.asp.
Applicants must have a current passport with up-to-date photographs taken according to the current passport standards. Because this is only a temporary permit, applicants must show that they have ties to their home country such as a job or family. Applicants also have to demonstrate that they are financially able to pay for their stay in Canada and their return ticket.
Sometimes an applicant may be required to present a letter of invitation from a friend or family member who is a Canadian resident. Some may also be required to take a medical examination.
Those with criminal records, have been involved in human rights crimes, or have been involved in organized crimes, will have their applications denied. Additionally, if an applicant’s health is poor, he/she is not financially capable of supporting himself/herself in Canada, or poses a security risk, the application will be refused.
A TRV generally takes about a month to process, but processing time varies according to your location. A single-entry visa costs CDN$75. However, if you are likely to be traveling in and out of Canada you would need a multiple-entry visa which costs CDN$150. A family visa costs CDN$400 for both single- and multiple-entry visas.
- Two Recent Passport Photos
- Application Fee and IMM 5401 Receipt of Payment
- Proof of Finances
Additionally the following documents may be required:
- ID Card
- Proof of Employment
- Letter of Invitation
- Proposed Travel Itinerary
Moving Your Family
Expatriates whose families move to Canada with them at the same time need to fill in the appropriate sections of their visa application forms. Expatriates whose families follow at a later date have to submit a separate application form for each family member.
Spouses are required to provide a copy of the marriage certificate. Both common-law and same-sex unions are recognized in Canada, and applicants are required to submit a Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union and provide evidence as proof of the relationship. To be eligible, you must have lived with your partner for a minimum of one year.
Besides meeting the basic requirements for entry, expatriate spouses and partners who intend to work or study in Canada have to apply for their own work or study permits.
A copy of the birth certificate is required for any dependent children. To be considered dependent your child must fit in the following categories:
- Under the age of 22 and unmarried (including common-law)
- Under the age of 22, married or in a common-law relationship, but has been continuously enrolled and attending education at the post-secondary level, and is financially dependent on the parent(s)
- Over the age of 22, single, and has been continuously enrolled and attending education at the post-secondary level since before the age of 22, and remains financially dependent on the parent(s)
- Over the age of 22 and is financially dependent on the parent(s) since before the age of 22 due to a medical condition or disability
Permanent Residence Cards
To apply for a PRC, applicants must meet the following requirements:
- Plans to live outside of the province of Quebec
- Must be either a temporary foreign worker with two years of full time skilled work experience in Canada or a foreign graduate of a post-secondary educational program in Canada with at least one year of skilled work experience in Canada
- Have gained the relevant experience in Canada under a valid work or study permit
- Apply while working in Canada or within one year of leaving your job in Canada
Skilled work includes managerial positions, professional and technical occupations, or skilled trades. Applications are assessed based on work experience and language skill in either English or French. Students are assessed based on their education in addition to any work experience. A medical examination, police records check and language testing may be required.
If your application is accepted, you will be asked to undergo an interview with an immigration officer. For this meeting you will need your passport, your permanent resident visa (received in the mail), and the Confirmation of Permanent Residence in Canada. This interview is generally brief and mostly reviews the information within your initial application.
As a permanent resident you are allowed to live in Canada without special permits, but you are required to remain in Canada at least two out of every five years.
Those expats who choose to become permanent residents of Canada can sponsor family members to also receive permanent resident status. Criteria for sponsorship includes spouses, common-law partners, conjugal partners, biological or adopted children, parents, grandparents, and siblings. Those who sponsor family members to become permanent Canadian residents are fully responsible for their financial needs when they arrive. There are two types of permanent residency sponsorships: one for spouses, partners, and children, and one for all other eligible relatives.
To apply for a permanent residency card in Canada, you must fill out the form that is found here.