Foreign nationals need a visitor visa to enter Canada if they are not from the visa-exempt countries and planning to do touristic activities, visit family members/friends living in Canada, study English or French as a second language or study at any other program for less than six months, or conduct international business activities. Most visitors are allowed a maximum six-month stay from the day they entered Canada. However, the minimum allowed stay could be any period less than a six-month period.


A foreign national from any country needs a Student Visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) and a Study Permit to study in Canada. Any study program longer than six months would require a Study Permit. A foreign national needs a Student Visa or an ETA to enter Canada, while a Study Permit is required to stay and be authorized to study in a Canadian educational institution (Designated Learning Institution), such as a school, college, university, etc. A Study Permit is usually valid for the length of a study program, plus an extra three months to prepare to leave Canada or apply for an extension. Some categories of persons do not need a Study Permit: minor children in Canada, family or staff of foreign representatives, members of foreign armed forces, and registered Indians in Canada.

Free Trade Agreements

Canada has some international economic and trade agreements with other countries and unions, such as United States of America, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Peru, Korea, European Union. Under the International Mobility Program, these agreements and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) have provisions that facilitate temporary entry to four categories of business persons: business visitors, professionals, intra-company transferees, and traders and investors. The most significant benefit of these agreements is that eligible business persons require a Work Permit, but are exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). A Work Permit could be issued for a different period (one, two or three years), depending on the category of a business person and activities, and extended.


Most foreign nationals need an open or employer-specific Work Permit to work in Canada. To work means to enter a Canadian labor market, not simply conducting international business activities for the remuneration paid from a source outside Canada. In general terms, Canadian economic and social development policy prescribes that a foreign national can be authorized to work in Canada only if the Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada are not qualified to perform the job offered. A labor shortage is confirmed via a process called Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) conducted by the Economic and Social Development Canada (ESDC). However, there are prescribed exemptions under which some categories of people do not need a Work Permit at all or need LMIA- exempted Work Permit. For instance, business visitors up to six months, clergy, short-term highly-skilled workers, etc. do not require a work permit. While recent graduates from the eligible Canadian educational institutions can apply for a post-graduation open Work Permit, which is LMIA-exempted. A Work Permit is an authorization to work in Canada, while a Worker Visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) is required to enter Canada. There is no established maximum amount of time a foreign national can work in Canada as a temporary worker. Instead, the length of a Work Permit depends on the job offer, the period listed on LMIA, and validity of a passport.

Super Visa for Parents and Grandparents

Only a parent or grandparent of a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada can apply for a Super Visa. The Super Visa is a multi-entry visa for a period up to 10 years. With the Super Visa, eligible parents/grandparents can visit their children/grandchildren and their families in Canada for up to two years without the need to renew their status. This means that eligible parents/grandparent can stay for up to two years on initial entry into Canada (while Visitor Visa only allows entry of maximum six months). It is essential that an immigration/visa officer will look at the applicant(s) eligibility and whether the children/grandchildren in Canada meet a Super Visa requirements, such as, for instance, minimum income threshold, medical insurance, etc.

Inadmissibility/Temporary Resident Permits

A foreign national needs a Visa/Electronic Travel Authorization or a Study/Work Permit to enter and stay in Canada for different purposes, such as visit, work, study, conduct business, etc. Before a Visa/Electronic Travel Authorization or a Study/Work Permit could be issued, an immigration or visa officer considers the admissibility of each person planning to enter and stay in Canada. There are grounds on which a foreign national could be inadmissible, i.e., refused entry to, or removed from Canada. The grounds are security reasons, human or international rights violations, criminal grounds, health grounds, financial reasons, misrepresentation, failure to comply with any provision of Canadian immigration laws, or having an inadmissible family member. However, in some cases if a foreign national has a valid reason to enter or stay in Canada, but is inadmissible on grounds listed above, IRCC may issue this person a Temporary Resident Permit. In this case, an immigration or border services officer will assess if the need to enter or stay in Canada outweighs the health or safety risks to Canadian society.


March 2019