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Coming to Canada as a visitor or student

Canadian immigration form.
Photo: iStock

If you want to visit Canada, or come to Canada to study at one of our colleges or universities, there are quite a few requirements you are going to have to fulfill.

Coming as a visitor

In order to visit Canada as a tourist you have to:

  • Have a travel document that are currently valid – it should be a passport;
  • Have no criminal record or immigration-related convictions – if you do, you may not be able to enter the country;
  • Be in reasonably good health;
  • When you come in as a visitor you have to explain to the immigration officer that you have bonds in your home-country and those bonds will make you return. For example, a spouse and children, a home, a job, a business and more;
  • Persuade the immigration officer on your case that you will definitely return to your home when you’re done your visit;
  • Have enough money to pay for your up-keep while you are staying in Canada. How much money you should bring and have for your stay depends on a variety of factors, such as: length of stay, with whom you are staying, whether you plan to do shopping or more traveling, etc.,

You could also end up needing a medical exam and/or a letter from the person whom you are visiting.

Many visitors will also end up requiring either a visitor’s visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA).

Visa requirements

There is a list of countries and territories of which travelers who hold a passport that Canada requires to get a temporary resident visa, also known as visitor visa.

There are two types of visas:

  • Single-entry visa: you can only come to Canada once and must re-apply if you want to come back.
  • Multiple-entry visa: These visas are usually valid for up to 10 years, or one month before your passport expires, whichever comes first. Visitors can come and go to and from Canada, usually six months at a time.

Electronic Travel Authorization Requirement

As of March 15, 2016, those foreign nationals who are exempt from visa requirements and who are planning to fly to or transit through Canada have to get an ETA.

There are two exemptions:

  • Citizens of the United States; and
  • Foreign nationals who hold a valid visa to Canada.

Once you get this authorization it is good for five years and is electronically linked to your passport.

Make sure you apply for it a before your trip and that the passport you use to travel to Canada is the one with which you applied for the ETA.

Coming as a student

If you are planning on coming to Canada as a student, you need the following:

  • The first requirement is that you must have been accepted at, what is called a “Designated Learning Institution”. Those include:
    • All primary and secondary institutions in Canada;
    • When it comes to colleges and universities in Canada, the provinces/territories will elect which institutions are to be included for the objective of hosting international students; and
    • A learning institution that is administered by a federal department or agency.
  • You have to show that you have more than enough money to sustain yourself while studying in Canada. You have to show you have money for:
    • Tuition;
    • Living expenses – both for you and any family members who have accompanied you;
    • Return transportation - both for you and any family members who have accompanied you.
  • Have no criminal record and no trouble with immigration-related convictions – some will be asked to provide a police certificate;
  • You have to be in good health and may be asked to undergo a medical examination;
  • You have to assure an immigration officer that you intend to leave Canada when your studies are over.

Read more:

Immigration and Citizenship – Apply to Canada as a Tourist

Government of Canada – Study in Canada