Obtaining visas for Canada

Citizens of several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and a number of European countries, are afforded visa-free entry into Canada for a visit of up to six months, as long as they have a valid passport. All expats wanting to work or live in Canada permanently will need to obtain a work permit or apply for permanent residency.
tourist visa

While visitors from a number of countries are able to visit Canada without a visa, expats from a designated list of countries will need to apply for a temporary residence visa before they arrive in Canada.

There is no separate visa for visiting Canada for business purposes. Depending on which country someone is from, they may be able to enter with a valid passport or they may need to apply for a temporary residence visa.

Those applying for a temporary residence visa for Canada should do so from their home country in advance of their departure date. Applications can be completed online or at a Canadian embassy or consulate in an expat’s home country.

Expats wanting to live in Canada permanently must obtain a permanent residence visa. It’s possible to apply for permanent residency through Canada’s federal programme, as well as through one of the country’s provincial programmes – in which case a particular province will need to nominate the applicant.

In contrast to Canada’s temporary residence visa application process, the permanent residence application process is more complicated, time-consuming and can be somewhat frustrating. The first step is to decide under which category an expat should apply. There are different permits for highly skilled workers, those reuniting with their family, and those who have recently graduated from a Canadian institution or have recent Canadian work experience.

In order to legally work in Canada, foreign nationals will either need a residence permit or a temporary work permit.

The requirements to obtain a work permit for Canada are strict and permits are usually granted to individuals coming to Canada to complete a specific job that can help a Canadian employer satisfy a skills shortage. Temporary work permits only entitle holders to certain rights, and they expire after a specified amount of time. 

In order to apply for a temporary work permit, foreigners must first have a job offer from a Canadian employer who must prove that the job being offered cannot be filled by a local resident or citizen. To prove the above, employers must obtain written confirmation, via a Labour Market Impact Assessment, from the Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) department. This generally means that the employer must show that they have advertised the position throughout Canada for a certain period and have been unable to find a local candidate suitably qualified for the job.

If an expat has the above, they can submit a temporary work permit application, along with the required supplementary documents, to the relevant Canadian visa office.

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