A visitor visa, also referred to as a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), is an immigration document that allows foreign nationals to travel to and enter Canada. Unless you are from a visa-exempt country, you will need a visitor visa to enter Canada whether you are coming as a student, temporary worker, or simply to visit.
There are two types of Canadian Visitor Visas, one for single entry and another for multiple-entry use.
Single entry visas are granted for a period of up to 6 months while the maximum validity date for multiple-entry visitor visas is up to 10 years or one month prior to the expiry date on the passport or re-entry visa (whichever date comes first). You’ll only need a multiple-entry visa when travelling in and out of Canada, for example, you may land in Canada, travel to countries in South America, and fly back to Canada again to travel home from there.
Who needs a Visitor Visa
All foreign nationals which includes International students who want to enter Canada who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents, or from a visa exempt country , requires a visitor visa. Canadian permanent residents are not permitted to apply for a visitor visa, even if their permanent resident card has expired. You must instead apply for a permanent resident travel document (PRTD). Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, are also not permitted to apply for a visitor visa. You must be travelling on a valid Canadian passport. If you are transiting through or coming to Canada for business, not as a temporary foreign worker, you may need a business visitor visa.
The only people, other than Canadian citizens and permanent residents, who do not require a visitor visa to enter Canada are individuals who are visa-exempt. Canada has agreements with several countries that exempt citizens of those nations from requiring a visa to visit Canada for a period of up to six months. Foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries wo wish to visit Canada by air, require a valid electronic travel authorization (eTA).
If you choose to visit by land or by sea, you only require a valid passport issued by a visa-exempt country. The only exception is citizens of the United States. The Canada-U.S. border is the longest undefended land border in the world, and thousands of Canadian and U.S. citizens cross that border every day. U.S. citizens are able to travel to Canada on a valid U.S. passport, and do not require a visitor visa or eTA, provided you are not staying for a period longer than six months. U.S. permanent residents, or Green Card holders, are visa-exempt regardless of their country of citizenship. You require an eTA to fly to or transit through a Canadian airport, and must present a valid Green Card and a valid passport to enter Canada.
How to Apply
Applicants who need a visitor visa to enter Canada can apply online, with a paper application, or in person at a Visa Application Center (VAC). If you are travelling as a family, each family member, including dependent children, must complete their own application. However, you may submit all of the applications together. Applicants may be required to include biometric information in their application, depending on their country of citizenship. If biometrics are required, the applicant will need to provide their fingerprints and photograph at a biometric collection service point. Biometrics can be collected after submitting the visitor visa application when you are prompted to do so, or at the same time as submission if submitting in person at a Visa Application Center (VAC).