Temporary Resident (Visitor) Visa
Last updated: October 16, 2019
A Temporary Resident Visa is an entry document to travel to Canada, required for the majority of visa-required foreign nationals. Visa-required foreign nationals must apply for and obtain a Temporary Resident Visa before they travel to Canada. This document cannot be issued at a port of entry to Canada. The application must be made to a visa post responsible for the country of which the applicant is a citizen or in which the applicant is present and has been lawfully admitted. The method of application can be online or in-person through a visa application center (VAC).
The main condition imposed on a visitor is that they leave at the end of their authorized stay. This will be scrutinized by the visa officer assessing your application and also by the CBSA officer at the port of entry (e.g. an airport). You are also expected not to work or study unauthorized. There are exceptions though. If your course of study is less than six months long and will be completed before your visitor status expires, you may study without a study permit. Likewise, there are exceptions to not working without a work permit as well. You may find more about that on the Work page.
The Length of The Temporary Resident (Visitor) Visa
The length of your visitor visa will depend on the expiry date of your passport. If you have a passport that will expire in 10 years, your visa can be issued for 9 years and 11 months. If the passport is for 4 years, you visa can be issued for 3 years and 11 months. It varies case by case. However, it is still very likely you’ll get a long term visa even if you asked for a 5-day visit.
Length of Visitor Status
A CBSA officer at the port of entry confers upon you a visitor status if you meet the requirements of a visitor class person. Remember that you already had the visitor visa and got approved, but you are still being examined when entering Canada. This is vitally important. CBSA officers at the port of entry has the authority to turn you away. They are the ones giving you your visitor status in Canada, so be nice to them. What you get when you apply to come to Canada as a visitor is a Temporary Resident (Visitor) Visa. It is only good for you to get on a plane (or another vehicle) to get to one of Canada’s port of entries (e.g. an airport). What will make your stay in Canada legitimate is your Visitor Status.
After stressing the important difference between a Visitor Visa and a Visitor Status, let’s get to the length of a visitor status. It is usually issued for six months, but it depends on your specific case and can be set differently by the officer.
Multiple- or Single-Entry
The common practice is to issue a long-term, multiple-entry visa. Even if you applied for a single-entry, short-term visa, the chances are high that you will be issued a multiple-entry, long-term visa. With a single-entry visa, you may only enter Canada one time. Once you leave Canada, your visa will expire, and you will have to apply for a new one to come to Canada again. With a multiple-entry visa, you may enter Canada multiple times over the course of the validity of your visa. It is important to remember that each time you appear at a Canadian port of entry, you will be assessed again. And the CBSA officer has the right to turn you away if they think you do not meet the temporary residence requirements.
Visitor Visa Exemptions
Not all foreign nationals are required to apply for a visitor visa. The nationals of the following countries may come to Canada without applying for a Visitor Visa. But they still need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA):
- British citizen
- British National (Overseas)
- British overseas citizen (re-admissible to the United Kingdom)
- British overseas territory citizen with citizenship through birth, descent, naturalization or registration in one of the British overseas territories of:
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
- Pitcairn Island
- Saint Helena
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- British Subject with a right of abode in the United Kingdom
- Brunei Darussalam
- Czech Republic
- Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
- Israel, must have a national Israeli passport
- Republic of Korea
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- Romania (electronic passport holders only)
- San Marino
- Solomon Islands
- United Arab Emirates
- United States, lawful permanent resident of (U.S. citizens are exempt from both visa and eTA requirements.)
- Vatican City State
Medical Examination for TRV Applicants
Medical examination is not required for temporary residents seeking to stay in Canada for less than six months. There are exceptions to this rule. Some of the most prominent ones are:
Exception 1: A temporary resident seeks to work in an occupation in which the protection of public health is essential. In those cases, a medical examination is required even if the length of stay is less than six months.
Exception 2: The CBSA officer at the port of entry has reason to believe you are a health risk to public in Canada.
If the stay is more than six months, a medical examination is not automatically required. It is required though when a foreign national seeks to remain in Canada for more than six months AND they have resided for six consecutive months, during the last twelve months, in a part of the world which has a higher incidence of serious communicable disease compared to Canada. The Minister of Health in Canada determines which parts of the world fit this criteria.
Biometrics Requirement for TRV Applicants
Biometrics are essentially your finger prints and your photo. If you haven’t given your biometrics to Canada before and are not a citizen of a visa-exempt country, you must give your biometrics to visit Canada. Biometrics are taken at a Visa Application Center in your country. If you hold a passport of a visa-exempt country AND you are only visiting Canada with no intention to study or work, you do not need to meet the biometrics requirement. Citizens of the United States of America are exempt from this requirement.