- Overview of Canada Visitor Visas for US Citizens
- What Are the Guidelines for US Citizens?
- What Are the Guidelines for US Permanent Residents?
- Electronic Travel Authorization
- Visitor Visa
- Temporary Resident Permit
- Intending Organ Donors Visa
- What Are the Restrictions for Business Visitors?
- How Can Total Law Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Overview of Canada Visitor Visas for US Citizens
Canada and the US have numerous measures in place that allow people with certain statuses to move between them freely.
This means that, for example, citizens or lawful permanent residents of the US may be able to visit Canada without the need to apply for a visa.
However, if you reside in the US as a non-citizen or non-permanent resident, you will have to apply for a Canadian visitor visa, permit or authorization in order to be able to visit Canada.
Which one you’ll need will depend on your country of citizenship, as well as the purposes of your visit to Canada.
What Are the Guidelines for US Citizens?
If you’re a US citizen, you will not need to apply for a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA) to visit Canada.
Instead, you will only need to carry proper documentation and identification in order to cross the border.
For many US citizens, you will have to produce a valid US passport as proof of your US citizenship.
Meanwhile, if you’re a member of the NEXUS program, you may use your membership card as proof of identification and citizenship. You will be able to do this regardless of the method of transport you use to enter Canada.
If you’re a member of the FAST program, you may use your cards as proof of identity when arriving by land and marine methods of transport only.
What Are the Guidelines for US Permanent Residents?
If you’re a lawful permanent resident of the US, you will not need to apply for a visitor visa or an eTA to visit Canada.
However, you will need to carry both of the following with you:
- A valid passport from your country of nationality (or an equivalent acceptable travel document)
- A valid proof of lawful permanent resident status in the US
Below is a list of acceptable documents you may use to prove your status in the US:
- Valid permanent resident card
- Foreign passport with an unexpired temporary I-551 stamp (also known as an Alien Documentation, Identification and Telecommunication [ADIT] stamp)
- Foreign passport with a temporary I-551 printed notation on a machine-readable immigrant visa upon endorsement with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection admission stamp
- Expired permanent resident card with Form I-797 (Notice of Action) for pending Form I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence) or Form I-829 (Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status)
- Expired permanent resident card with Form I-797 (Notice of Action) for pending Form I-90 (Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card [Green Card])
- Valid re-entry permit (Form I-327)
- Form I-94 with an unexpired temporary I-551 stamp (ADIT stamp) and a passport-style photo
Electronic Travel Authorization
If you’re not a citizen or permanent resident of the US, you may then need to apply for permission to visit Canada.
One of these is the electronic travel authorization (eTA). An eTA is electronically linked to your passport and allows you to visit Canada for trips of up to six months at a time.
You will only need an eTA if all of the following apply to you:
- You live in the US (but do not have permanent resident status)
- You’re a citizen of a visa-exempt country
- You’re travelling by plane to visit Canada, or transiting through one of its airports
You will not need an eTA if you’re visiting or transiting through Canada by any method of transport that isn’t by plane. This includes by car, train, bus or boat.
To apply for an eTA, you will only need your passport, a valid email address, and a credit or debit card.
eTAs cost CAN$7 and usually only take a few minutes to process and approve.
If you’re not a citizen or permanent resident of the US, and you’re also a citizen of a visa-required country, you will need a visitor visa (also known as a temporary resident visa) to visit Canada.
A visitor visa is an official document placed in your passport. Like the eTA, it allows its holders to visit Canada for up to six months at a time.
If you’re a citizen of a visa-required country, you will need a visitor visa regardless of the method of transport you use to enter Canada.
You must meet certain requirements in order to be eligible for a visitor visa. For example, you must, among other things:
- Have no criminal- or immigration-related convictions
- Prove that you have enough money to support yourself for your visit
- Convince an immigration officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your visit
You may also need to take a medical exam to be eligible to visit Canada.
Visitor visas cost CAN$100 to obtain. These visas typically take a few months to process when applying from the US.
If you’re a citizen of a visa-required country and you’re transiting through one of Canada’s airports for a short period of time, you will need to apply for a transit visa.
A transit visa will allow you to travel through a Canadian airport (such as if you need to connect to another international flight) for a period of time up to 48 hours.
It may also be valid for up to one or two entries, depending on your plans.
Note that you will need to apply for a visitor visa instead of a transit visa if you’re from a visa-required country and any of the following apply to you:
- Your transit through Canada will be longer than 48 hours
- You’ll be visiting Canada (i.e. leaving the secure area of the airport at any time)
- You’ll be entering Canada by any form of transport other than plane
Transit visas are free to obtain. They also usually only take a few weeks or less to process.
Temporary Resident Permit
If you’re legally deemed to be inadmissible to Canada from the US, you may instead apply for a temporary resident permit (TRP).
A TRP allows someone who is inadmissible to Canada to visit for a short period of time, as long as the reason for their visit outweighs the health and safety risks to Canadian society.
You may be inadmissible to Canada for a number of reasons, including (but not limited to) the following:
- Security reasons, such as violence, terrorism or espionage
- Human rights or international rights violations
- Criminal reasons, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Medical reasons, such as conditions that put excessive demand on health or social services
- Having an inadmissible family member
You will normally be issued with a TRP after applying for either an eTA or a visitor visa. If you’re applying for a visitor visa, you must include supporting documents to explain why you’re inadmissible and why it may be justified for you to enter Canada.
TRPs cost CAN$200 to obtain and may take up to 24 months to process.
Intending Organ Donors Visa
The intending organ donors visa is a type of temporary resident visa (TRV). It is specifically aimed at those who need to travel to Canada with the sole purpose of donating an organ to a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
To be eligible for this visa, you must fulfil all of the usual eligibility requirements for a normal TRV. In addition, you must:
- Prove that the organ you intend to donate is medically compatible between yourself and the recipient
- Prove that the medical costs and all costs associated with the organ donation are covered by the recipient’s health insurance or through specific provincial/territorial health funding
- Prove that there is no transaction, sale or unlawful exchange involved in the donation process
For this visa, you must also provide a range of supporting documentation that verifies the above eligibility criteria and satisfies Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that the organ donation process is legitimate.
You can apply for an intending organ donors visa via the same method as applying for a TRV. This visa also costs CAN$100 to obtain, and may take between a few weeks and a few months to process.
What Are the Restrictions for Business Visitors?
If you’re visiting Canada from the US in order to conduct business, you will have to adhere to a number of rules and restrictions on what you can and can’t do.
As a business visitor, you will be able to carry out the following activities:
- Buy Canadian goods or services for a foreign business or government
- Take orders for goods or services
- Go to meetings, conferences, conventions or trade fairs
- Give after-sales service as part of a warranty or sales agreement
- Be trained by a Canadian parent company that you work for outside Canada
- Train employees of a Canadian branch of a foreign company
- Be trained by a Canadian company that has sold you equipment or services
If you’re a US citizen, you may also be able to undertake other research, marketing and general services, as per the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement.
In order to qualify as a business visitor, you must prove that you don’t plan to enter the Canadian labor market and that your main place of business and source of income and profits is outside Canada, amongst other things.
You will also need to bring either a valid visitor visa, eTA, proof of US citizenship, or official proof of status in the US with you to Canada.
How Can Total Law Help?
The ability to easily visit Canada for short trips and tourism is a valuable perk of living in the US, whether you’re a citizen, permanent resident, or someone without official status.
However, there are always rules and regulations that you must adhere to when visiting Canada, which is why it’s important to know for certain which ones apply to you.
If you need any additional help or assistance with travelling to Canada from the US, Total Law are here to help.
We are a team of expert immigration lawyers and advisers who work internationally in countries such as Canada and the US. We have the knowledge and expertise to ensure that your trip to Canada goes as smoothly as possible, and that you have everything you need to travel.
Whether you’re travelling to Canada as a business visitor, transiting through an airport to connect to another flight, or just visiting for tourism or to visit family and friends, we can help.
We can also liaise with your local Canadian consulate if you need to attend a visa appointment or visa interview as part of the application process.
Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.
Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Fast Track Package
Premium application service that ensures your visa application is submitted to meet your deadline.
Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal. We will represent you in any case.
The Advice Package
During this untimed Advice Session with our professional immigration lawyers in London, you will receive our comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.
The Application Package
With our Application Package, your dedicated immigration lawyer will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your caseworker will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.
The Fast Track Package
Our Fast-Track Application Package is a premium service for those who need to submit their application in time with their deadlines. Your case will become a top priority for our lawyers and you will benefit from our highest-quality services.
The Appeal Package
By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.
Unfortunately, there is no formal appeals process if your visa application has been refused.
However, you will be able to re-submit your application for a visitor visa again after your first one has been refused.
You should note, however, that you should only do so if your situation has changed in a meaningful way, or you have substantial new information to submit that will directly address the initial reasons for refusal.
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is a program that allows citizens of certain countries to visit the US for periods of up to 90 days at a time.
Unfortunately, this program is only specific to the US, so you won’t be able to take advantage of it when visiting Canada.
However, Canada does allow foreign nationals from many countries to visit it without having to obtain a visitor visa. The full list of countries can be found on the IRCC website.
Canadian visitor visas generally come in two types: single entry and multiple entry.
Single entry visas only allow you to enter Canada on a single occasion. Once you leave Canada, you won’t be able to enter it again until you apply for another visa.
On the other hand, multiple entry visas allow you to exit and re-enter Canada as many times as you like, as long as the visa is still valid or your passport expires, whichever comes first.
Most visitor visa applicants will receive a multiple entry visa by default. You will only be considered for a single entry visa if:
- You are eligible for a fee exemption and the purpose of your visit to Canada is limited (such as for an official visit by a foreign national)
- You are taking part in a one-time special event in Canada
- There are approved country-specific procedures or guidelines in place
If you’re visiting Canada and need to extend your stay beyond your visa or permit’s validity, you may apply for a visitor record.
A visitor record is a document that will allow you to stay longer in Canada and grants you a new expiry date for your initial immigration permission.
You will have to apply for a visitor record at least 30 days before your current visa or permit’s expiry.
US citizens, US permanent residents, visitor visa holders and eTA holders can all apply for a visitor record when visiting Canada.
Canadian citizens, or dual Canadian citizens with the US or another country, will only need a valid Canadian passport to travel to Canada.
Meanwhile, Canadian permanent residents will need a valid permanent resident card or permanent resident travel document to travel to Canada.