According to immigration statistics, Canada welcomes more than 35 million visitors from all over the world each year. Unlike in many other countries, visitors in Canada are allowed to have “dual intent”, which means that they can reside in Canada with temporary status while awaiting a decision on their permanent residency. In certain cases, visitors can officially extend their authorized period of stay and receive appropriate document, called Visitor’s Record. In fact, many visitors do turn into successful Canadian permanent residents and future citizens after they fall in love with this country.
Canada divides visitors to Canada into two broad categories – those who require visas and those who are “visa exempt”. Generally speaking, Canada enters into reciprocal agreements with a number of countries which the government feels are in an equivalent quality of life category. It should be noted however that coming from a country which is visa exempt does not provide an automatic right of entry. A person coming from a visa exempt country may be denied entry to Canada for a number of different reasons. For example such visitors must still demonstrate the following:
- possess a valid passport or travel document (depending on the country and mode of entry)
- be in good health
- have sufficient funds to pay for the visit
- satisfy the officer that there is an intention to leave after the visit is concluded
- not be inadmissible for reasons such as criminality
Temporary Resident Visas (TRV)
You can review the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) website for the list of countries and territories whose citizens need a visa to visit or transit Canada.The steps necessary to obtain a TRV differ depending on the country in question. The requirements as well as which countries require visas change regularly and thus a potential visitor should consult with Levine Associates to determine what the requirements are at the time of the intended visit.
How and where to Make an Application
Canada has recently introduced a Biometric requirement for citizens of certain countries who are applying for TRVs. This means that citizens of certain countries must provide digital photographs and finger prints in order to obtain a visa. This information will be used to verify entry and exit as well as tracking those who make subsequent applications such as refugee claimants. Biometrics have been used for many years by many countries such as the United States.
Those who are required to submit Biometrics with their application cannot make their applications for TRVs online. Instead such applicants must attend at one of the newly created Visa Application Centres (VACs) which have been set up throughout the world. VACs can collect Biometric information as well as process your Visa application.
No Biometric required
If you come from a country where no Biometric data is required then you may apply for your TRV either online, by paper or by using Levine Associates who can submit the application on your behalf. If the application is made online you must have the ability to upload your documents into digital format as well as have a valid credit card to pay with.
Requirements for a TRV
In order to visit Canada you must have the following:
- a valid travel document such as a passport
- good health
- satisfy an Officer that you intend to leave Canada at the conclusion of your visit
- have sufficient funds to support your stay in Canada
In some instances you may also require the following:
- if you plan to visit for more than 6 months you may require a medical exam if you are from certain countries or have visited those countries for more than 6 months in the one year prior to your arrival in Canada (Note: this requirement exists even for those citizens of visa exempt countries)
- visiting will involve working amongst people where public health must be protected
- apply for a parent or grandparent Supervisa
If you do require a medical exam, you must attend at a Doctor’s office which has been approved by the CIC.
Letter of Invitations
When you are required to obtain TRV, it is always advisable to obtain a letter of invitation where practicable. These letters merely set out the intentions of the invitor and must be given in good faith. However, a person who writes a letter of invitation is not legally bound to support the visitor. Letters of Invitation should include specific information. Levine Associates can assist you to draft a letter of invitation which includes all the information Immigration would like to see in the letter. Once the letter is completed it should be notarized and then sent to the visitor who will submit the letter with their TRV application.
Travelling with Children
Missing children are an international concern. Canadian Border Services Agency officers (CBSA) are always on the lookout for such children. Accordingly, if only one parents is travelling with children Levine Associates recommends that you prepare a consent letter advising that your spouse has your authorization to travel with your child(ren). Where parents have custodial agreements regarding the child(ren) it is advisable to carry copies of the legal custody papers to ensure you can satisfy the CBSA that you have the legal right to travel with your child(ren). Again, in order to ensure the officers accept the consent or custodial agreements as authentic it is advisable to have them notarized by a law office.
Some people are barred from entry to Canada. This may be as a result of criminality, security, health or financial reasons. If you fear you may be inadmissible contact Levine Associates and seek a consultation to resolve your question. It is always best to arrive at the border confident that you will be able to enter.
To find out what else you may need to know before you come to Canada, please contact Levine Associates. One of our Immigration lawyers will be pleased to provide you with a consultation and answer your questions. Our lawyers also regularly process visitor visas to ensure the application is done right the first time and ensure you obtain your visa in a timely manner.