There are many reasons to visit or reside in Canada. The second largest country in the world, Canada boasts sublime natural landscapes, booming cultural metropolises, plenty of active endeavours, and palette-pleasing cuisine. This article serves to educate on the paths to enter or reside in Canada as a visitor, businessperson, or a refugee. Special country-to-country agreements are also explained, such as NAFTA and other free trade agreements.
Canada Free Trade Agreements
A free trade agreement (FTA) enables certain provisions and exemptions between countries. The purpose of FTAs is to make trade, business and investment between the participating countries quicker and easier. Canada currently has FTAs with 13 countries but is in ongoing FTA negotiations with over 12 countries. The FTA's currently in force are:
Canada - Jordan
Canada - Columbia
Canada - Peru
Canada - European Free Trade Association
Canada - Costa Rica
Canada - Chile
Canada - Israel
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
Countries and Territories that Require Biometric Information to Enter Canada
Beginning in September of 2013, nationals of certain countries will be required to provide biometric information to visit Canada when they apply for a temporary resident visa, study permit or work permit. Such persons will need to appear in person at a CIC office or Visa Application Center (VAV) to have their photograph and fingerprints taken.
Biometric data collection becomes mandatory for these countries on the following dates:
September 2, 2013: Columbia, Haiti, Jamaica
October 15, 2013: Albania, Algeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia
December 7, 2013: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Syria, Vietnam, Yemen, Palestinian Authority
NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) allows quicker, easier temporary entry to Canada for citizens and permanent residents of the U.S. and Mexico. NAFTA only applies to four specific categories of visitors: business visitors; professionals; intra-company transferees; and traders and investors.
The benefits of NAFTA include not being required to obtain a labour market opinion (LMO) from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), meaning the Canadian employer does not first have to be approved by HRSDC before hiring an American or Mexican.
There are estimate 10.5 million refugees in the world today and Canada is a global leader in offering humanitarian assistance and resettlement programs.
Canada has two programs to provide humanitarian aid to foreign nationals. The first program, the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program, is for people seeking protection from outside Canada. The second program, the In-Canada Asylum Program, is for people making refugee protection claims from inside Canada.
In 2013, the Canadian Government plans to resettle up to 14,500 refugees as a part of the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program. Refugees selected to enter Canada have faced extreme hardship in their countries of residence and have experienced such forces as hunger, violence, and unfair persecution. Often these refugees have been living in established refugee camps for years, displaced from their homes. Canada works closely with the United Nations High Commissionaire to help resituate refugees and provide assistance to countries with refugee populations. The Resettlement Assistance Program provides assistance to refugees in the form of: income support; temporary and permanent housing; and integration programs that specialize in language and cultural adaptation assistance
The In-Canada Asylum Program works to help persons who have arrived in Canada seeking asylum from their home countries. Canada helps over 20,000 persons through this program each year. The program affords protection and assistance to persons who face cruelty, torture, or other unusual punishment if they return to their home countries.
Visitor Visa Canada
Whether you are touring the country on vacation, visiting family, or conducting business in Canada, you may need a visa. Canadian Visitor Visas come in three categories: Tourist, Parent or Grandparent, and Business. Not everyone needs a visa to visit Canada; nationals of certain countries are exempt from obtaining a visitor visa.
The Tourist Visa Application is Form IMM 5257. If your application is accepted, you will be awarded a temporary resident visa (TRV) that is valid for a set period of time. Temporary residents are not allowed to work or study in Canada.
Parent and Grandparent Super Visa
The Parent and Grandparent Super Visa Application is Form IMM 5257, Application for Temporary Resident Visa. The Parent Grandparent Super Visa is a visitor visa for parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. The Canadian family member must meet certain income requirements so that they are able to support the visiting relative. The visiting relative must also have Canadian medical coverage for at least 1 year and complete an Immigration Medical Exam.
The Business Visa Application is Form IMM 5257. To be eligible for a business visa you must meet the eligibility requirements: intend to stay for less than 6 months and do not intend to enter the Canadian labour market; your main place of business and source of income is located outside of Canada; profits from your business will accrue outside of Canada; you can provide documents that support your application; and you meet Canada's basic entry requirements.
1. What is a Visa Application Center (VAC)?
A Visa Application Center is a facility contracted by CIC (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) that is eligible to give certain services to visa applicants such as biometric data collection. VACs are located around the world and offer help in the local language.
2. What is an Immigration Medical Exam?
Medical exams are generally only required if your visit to Canada is longer than six months. Persons from certain countries and persons working for certain jobs in Canada require a medical exam. Persons applying for a Parent and Grandparent Super Visa are also required to have a medical exam. You must have the medical exam from a physician on Canada's list of Panel Physicians.
3. What are Canada's basic entry requirements?
Have a valid travel document such as a passport;
Have enough money for your stay and to return home;
Plan to leave Canada at the end of your visit; and
Do not pose criminal, security or health risks to Canadians.
4. How do I extend my visa?
To extend the length of your temporary visa, you must apply for an Extension of Stay using form IMM 5708. You must apply 30 days before your status expires. The date your status expires will be on your visa. You can also use this form to adjust your status, for example from student permit to work permit.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, FTAs: http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/agr-acc/index.aspx?view=d
The UN Refugee Agency: http://www.unrefugees.org/site/c.lfIQKSOwFqG/b.4950731/k.A894/What_is_a_refugee.htm
Resettlement in Canada as a Refugee: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/outside/index.asp
Resources for Refugees in Canada by Province and City: http://ccrweb.ca/en/links
Visa Exempt Travellers: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visa-exempt.asp
Lonely Planet, Tourist Guide to Canada: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/canada
CIC Help Center: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/index-featured-can.asp#tab1
Working in Canada, Latest Skills in Demand: http://www.workingin-canada.com/visa/skills-in-demand#.UN4aW3dvDJQ