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Visa-Required and Visa-Exempted: What’s the difference?

September 15, 2023 by Katie Enman, Immigration Consultant
Visa-Required and Visa-Exempted: What’s the difference?

Visa-Required and Visa-Exempted: What’s the difference?

A "visa-required country" in the context of Canada's immigration and travel regulations refers to a country whose citizens are required to obtain a visa before they can enter Canada for any purpose. This means if you are a citizen of a visa-required country and you plan to visit Canada, whether for tourism, business, study, work, or any other reason, you need to apply for and obtain a visa before you travel.

The visa application process typically involves submitting various documents, such as a valid passport, application forms, photographs, and any other documents requested by the Canadian authorities. The purpose of the visa requirement is to ensure that individuals seeking entry into Canada meet certain criteria, including the purpose of their visit, their ability to financially support themselves during their stay, and their intention to leave Canada at the end of their authorized stay. Intention to leave at the end of their stay can be proven by family back home, assets and property in the applicant's home country, and employment prospects or employment upon return.

It's important to note that visa requirements can vary based on the type of visa you're applying for, the reason for your visit, and your country of citizenship. If you're unsure about whether you need a visa to enter Canada, it's recommended to check with the official website of the Government of Canada or consult the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate.

Note a visa and a permit are not the same thing. A visa refers to your ability to enter the country. A permit is what gives you status in Canada.

Alternatively, Canada has a list of countries whose citizens are visa-exempt, which means they do not need a visa for short stays (usually up to six months). Citizens of these countries can usually enter Canada with just their valid passport and an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) if you're traveling by air. This requirement is separate from a visa and applies to visa-exempt foreign nationals traveling to Canada by air.

To find out if you’re visa required or visa exempt, you can visit the Government of Canada website.

The article above is intended to provide general and non-case specific information on immigration related matters. It should not be used or relied on as formal legal advice.