- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Canada Guide (PDF)
Whether planning to carve their way down Canada’s ski slopes on holiday, or settling into one of its lauded urban centres more permanently, it is essential for those wishing to enter the country to know the facts about visas for Canada.
Countless categories make the visa application process appear overwhelming, but the good news is that the Canadian government provides a comprehensive and up-to-date 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 visit 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) before they arrive to be granted entry into Canada.
Permanent residence visas for Canada
Those wishing 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 point of the process is deciding which permanent residency category to apply for. There are different permits for those reuniting with their family, those who have recently graduated from a Canadian institution, and those who have the education, skills and experience that will make them economically advantageous to Canada.
*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
With 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.
GeoBlue is one of the best international health insurance plans for US expats abroad or internationals residing in the USA. The GeoBlue Xplorer plan includes worldwide coverage and great customer service with access to a premium international network of hospitals and doctors including the Blue Cross Blue Shield network in the USA.
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.