- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Canada Guide (PDF)
Whether planning to carve their way down Canada’s ski slopes on holiday, or settle into one of its world-famous urban centres on a more permanent basis, it is essential for those wishing to enter Canada to research the different visas available.
The visa application process may appear overwhelming due to the more than 60 categories available, but the good news is that the Canadian government provides a comprehensive and updated online resource that assists applicants with the process.
Visitor visas for Canada
Citizens of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and a number of European countries are afforded visa-free entry into Canada for a period of six months or less, as long as they have a valid passport.
Expats from a designated list of countries available on Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration site will, however, need to apply for a visitor visa (also known as a temporary residence visa) to gain entry into Canada.
All visitor visa applicants funding their own trip will be required to show proof of funds to cover their expenses during the visit.
Permanent residence visas for Canada
Those planning to immigrate to Canada will need to obtain permanent residency. 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.
The first step of the process is deciding which permanent residency category to apply for. There are different permits for those reuniting with their families, those who have recently graduated from a Canadian institution, and those who have the education, skills and experience that will benefit Canada’s economy.
*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats are advised to contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.
►Work Permits for Canada gives an overview of what foreigners need to know about getting a work visa for Canada
"We came to Canada via the Express Entry system, which is a skilled, points-based system, which grants permanent residence. The process itself is not difficult, but it is long and time consuming. We worked with an agent, but in hindsight we realise what a complete waste of money this was – we could definitely have done the whole process ourselves. The only time I would recommend an agent or immigration lawyer is if you have a complicated case that may require more documents or involve additional procedures."
Read more of South African expat Catherine's experiences in Calgary.
Are you an expat living in Canada?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Canada. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.