10 frequently asked questions by visitors to Canada


Recent changes to visitor visa requirements for some Mexican nationals may leave some foreign nationals looking to visit Canada with questions about their own situation.

To assist, CIC News has compiled a list of frequently asked questions that may be helpful to review before expending the time, energy and money necessary to come to Canada.

How long can I stay in Canada as a visitor?

In most cases, visitors to Canada can remain in the country for six months from the day they enter Canada (or until their passport expires, whichever comes first). The date by which a visitor must leave Canada will be indicated by a stamp in their passport and/or a document provided to them by a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer.

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Visitors who would like to remain in Canada beyond their initially authorized stay can apply for an extension (more on this later).

What is the difference between a single and a multiple-entry visa?

As indicated by the name of the visa, single-entry visas permit the holder to enter Canada one time only, while a multiple-entry visa allows repeated entry to Canada so long as the visa remains valid.

Note: All visitor visa applicants are automatically considered for a multiple-entry visa but Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reviews each application separately and issues every visitor a visa accordingly.

IRCC clarifies that single-entry visa recipients will require a new visa to enter Canada once they have left, unless they are travelling directly to either the United States or St. Pierre and Miquelon.

Meanwhile, multiple-entry visas are valid for the shorter of the following two periods: 10 years or one month before the expiration of the visa holder’s passport. Every entry to Canada using a multiple-entry visa allows the visa holder to remain in Canada for up to six months at a time.

Can I fill out one visa application for my whole family if we are travelling together?

No. While all visitor visa applications for one group of family members may be submitted in the same envelope (alongside one payment receipt accounting for the total fee of all applications), everyone must complete and sign their own visitor visa application.

This rule also applies to any other required forms, excluding the Family Information form, which must only be completed by applicants 18 years or older.

Note: Parents and guardians can help their children fill out their form(s), and every visitor visa applicant under the age of 18 must have their document(s) signed by a parent/guardian.

Is there any way I can help a friend or family member visit Canada?

Although your friends and family members must complete their own visa applications, a letter of invitation is a document you can submit to help a loved one come to Canada.

It should be noted that this document, which details how you may help the visa applicant (ex. offering to pay for accommodation), can help but does not guarantee the applicant will be approved for their visitor visa.

Do I need a medical exam to get a visitor visa?

This depends on the visitor’s length of stay in Canada.

In most cases, visitors in Canada for six months or less do not require a medical exam unless they will be working in a job where the “protection of public health is essential.” The list of jobs under this requirement is available here.

The above public health protection condition also applies to visitors who will be in Canada for longer than six months. In addition, visitors in Canada for six months or longer will need a medical exam if they meet either of the following two requirements:

*This applies to all visitors, even those who are citizens of visa-exempt countries, who have been in any of the eligible countries “in the one year immediately preceding the date [the visitor] sought entry into Canada.”

Is a visitor visa the same thing as a visitor record?

No. A visitor visa is required by foreign nationals looking to travel and enter Canada as a visitor (in most cases, for up to six months).

Conversely, a visitor record is provided by CBSA officers to either extend or restrict the recipient’s stay in Canada. This type of document may also be given to foreign nationals, by either CBSA or IRCC, after their application to extend their stay or restore their status in Canada is approved.

Click here for additional details regarding the difference between a visitor visa and a visitor record.

I got a new passport but I have a valid visa in my old one. Can I use the visa in my old passport?

IRCC notes that it is possible to travel to Canada using a valid visitor visa placed in an old passport. However, travellers in this situation must bring both of the following documents with them to Canada:

  • The old passport with the valid visa*
  • The new valid passport or travel document

*Travellers may need to explain to CBSA officers why their old passport is no longer valid

Note: To avoid processing delays at the Canadian border, IRCC recommends that all visitors to Canada obtain a new visitor visa in their new, valid passport.

How can I extend my stay as a visitor?

Extending your stay in Canada requires that you submit biometrics (fingerprints and a photograph) and apply for a visitor record. This document allows visitors to Canada three options to extend their stay in the country:

The steps to applying for a visitor record online can be found on this IRCC webpage.

Can I file an appeal if my visitor visa is denied?

There is no appeal process for a visitor visa application from IRCC.

When an applicant is denied a visitor visa to enter Canada, they may re-apply, but IRCC recommends that they only do so if their situation has changed, or they have new information to submit that may alter the outcome of their application.

Do I need a visa if I’m just travelling through Canada on my way to another country?

Documentation for those transiting through Canada depends on an indvidual’s unique situation.

Generally, travellers can be broken down into two categories: visa-required travellers (from a visa-required country) and visa-exempt travellers (from a country that requires an electronic Travel Authorization, eTA).

Some visa-required travellers need a visitor visa. This applies to travellers who are:

  • Visiting Canada (even if travelling by air and the traveller is in Canada for less than 48 hours)
  • Staying in Canada for more than 48 hours while transiting through the country to another destination
  • Crossing the Canadian border via any of the following five modes of transportation: bus, car, train, boat or cruise ship

Other visa-required travellers may only require a transit visa. This applies to travellers who:

  • Have an international flight that stops at a Canadian airport on the way to another country
  • Will be connecting between two international flights at a Canadian airport
  • Will be transiting through Canada in 48 hours or less
  • Do not have a valid visitor visa

Visa-exempt travellers need an eTA to transit through Canada by air. Travellers transiting through Canada by train, bus, boat or cruise ship are not required to obtain an eTA, but must still bring with them the correct travel documents.

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