Is a visa required to enter Canada?
Whether it is a stay in Canada for tourism, professional reasons or even for transit, the Canadian government systematically imposes a travel authorization to enter the national territory.
For a stay of less than 6 months in Canada : You can carry out the formalities for entering Canada directly via the Internet by clicking on the online form. It is not necessary to obtain an appointment at the Canadian embassy or consulate.
It is therefore not necessary to apply for a Canada visa, a Travel Authorization is sufficient: the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Find out in this article in which situations you will be freed from the long and costly formalities to obtain a Canada visa.
The Canada eTA: an alternative to the visa
The Electronic Travel Authorization or eTA in English came into force in 2016. Its mode of operation is similar to that of the ESTA for the USA, that is to say that it is only obtained online and allows you to travel without a visa.
What are the differences between the Canada visa and the eTA?
The eTA is not intended to replace the Canada visa, these two travel documents are not intended for the same people and are issued under different conditions of stay. Concretely, the AVE only applies in the event of a short stay on Canadian soil. Thus, the maximum duration of a trip to Canada with an eTA is 6 months. If the stay exceeds one more day, the visa application at the Canadian Embassy is essential.
In addition to the duration of the trip, the reason for the stay is important in determining whether you should travel with an eTA or a Canada visa. The IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada), the Canadian authority responsible for issuing eTAs, has defined very specific cases for obtaining this travel authorization. Thus, the eTA only applies in the following cases:
- tourist trip;
- business trip (attending a conference, visiting a client, signing a contract, etc.). If your goal is to study in Canada, to work or even to do an internship, you will need to obtain a visa;
- transit to another country.
The mode of entry into Canada is also very important. The eTA only authorizes travel to Canada by air. In case of arrival by land or sea, only the visa will be authorized.
Finally, the nationality of the national also determines the choice of travel authorization. All foreigners from a visa-exempt country can obtain a temporary residence permit. All EU citizens as well as Australia, New Zealand or Japan are affected by this Canada visa exemption. If you are not a national of a visa-exempt country, then you will be required to apply for a Canada TRV (Temporary Resident Visa) visa from the Canadian Embassy.
The request for an eTA
If you are assured of meeting the eligibility conditions mentioned above, you can then move on to the next step: filling out the online form.
The purpose of this form is to verify that you do not represent any danger to the internal security of the country and that you do not wish to immigrate to Canada.
The eTA application is made exclusively online. You can access the form on the official website of the Canadian federal government or via our partner site. If you choose this second option, you will benefit from personalized support to help you with this process.
The request for eTA is systematically paying, however, its price is much lower than that of the visa.
Working in Canada: impossible without a work permit
If your plan is to work temporarily in Canada, you will need to apply for a work permit.
Be careful, if you plan to go on an internship in Canada, know that you will also need to apply for a work permit. Indeed, the Government of Canada makes no distinction between traditional jobs and internships. The latter are considered as jobs in their own right, regardless of the duration of the internship and the remuneration.
The application for a work permit can be done via a paper form or simply online. If you choose the second option, all you have to do is go to the official Canadian government website and then provide the following information:
- personal civil status information;
- a job offer from your employer;
- supporting documents proving your skills are sufficient to meet the requirements of the position (diploma, certificate from your former employer, etc.).
You will also be asked to provide your biometric data (fingerprints and photo ID). To complete this formality, bring your credit card. You will have to pay some processing fees.
Note that if you are not from a visa-exempt country, you will also need to apply for a temporary resident visa.
Visa Canada: the PVT
The Working Holiday Permit (WHV) Canada, also called working holiday visa, was set up as part of the International Experience Canada (IEC) program. Its objective is to encourage exchanges of young people between Canada and 32 partner countries (the English are eligible for this scheme).
The PVT Canada is a work permit that allows you to stay in Canada for a maximum of 24 months. Its main advantage is the freedom and flexibility it offers. Indeed, it does not impose to find an employer before the departure and authorizes to change company as many times as wished during all its period of validity and on all the territory (Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Quebec…). In addition, as its name suggests, it also allows you to stay for tourist purposes: you are free to work and visit Canada as you see fit.
Like any travel authorization, the PVT is subject to a few prerequisites. Here are the main points to respect to be eligible for the PVT Canada:
- have a valid passport (biometric or electronic passport);
- be between 18 and 35 years old inclusive;
- have at least CA$2,500 to cover initial expenses;
- take out travel insurance;
- be in possession of a return air ticket or prove that you have sufficient financial resources to purchase a return ticket at the end of the stay;
- be admissible in Canada, that is, not represent a risk to Canada’s internal (or health) security.
Like the eTA, the online request for a PVT Canada is done on the Canadian government website via the Immigration Canada service.
Please note, due to the growing popularity of the PVT, the Canadian government has set up a quota system for each country. Thus, your application for admission to the PVT will be subject to a draw. Obtaining the PVT therefore depends mainly on the luck factor.
Keep in mind that the various travel documents mentioned above are in no way immigration documents. If your goal is to immigrate and live in Canada for the long term, you will have to apply for a permanent resident card, which is much more difficult to obtain.