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Canadian Permits and Visas

Canadian Permits and Visas


Express Entry information session January 17, 2018 presentation (PDF)

The Canadian Government has two main types of immigration documents: permits and visas.

Permits allow someone to be in Canada and control what they can do (eg. study permits allow long-term study in Canada).

Visas are required by citizens of some countries to enter Canada.  Most people that do not require a visa, require electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly into Canada.

Permanent residency is the official term for what many people understand as immigrating.

Study Permit
information can be found on our Studying in Canada page
Work Permit
information can be found on our Working in Canada page

Accompanying family members
can find information on our Spouses, Partners, and Families page.


Entering Canada

Temporary Resident Visa (TRV)
Required by citizens of some countries to come to Canada
Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)
Required by citizens of visa-exempt countries who want to fly into Canada

Temporary Resident (Entry) Visas

If your citizenship requires you to have a temporary resident visa (TRV), sometimes known as an entry visa, it must be valid on the date that you enter Canada.  It can expire any time after that.

Temporary resident visas (TRV)s are about the size of a passport page and placed in the passport by Canadian immigration officials.

Temporary resident visas (TRV)s are about the size of a passport page and placed in the passport by Canadian immigration officials.

If you submit a successful application for an initial (first) study permit outside of Canada (and your citizenship requires you to have a Temporary Resident Visa), the visa will be issued with your letter of introduction.   It is not necessary to submit a separate application.

Therefore, the following information only applies if you already have a study permit but your TRV has expired or if you do not require a study permit (because you will study for no more than 6 months).


When To Apply

Apply as far in advance as possible.  A TRV application can take from one day to a few months to be processed.

The processing times provided through Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada are not current.  They represent the average number of days, weeks, or months required to process 80% of applications over a set period of time.


Where To Apply

Apply through the Visa Application Centre (VAC) that serves your country or region of residence. These are private companies contracted by the Canadian government to provide services to visa and permit applicants, including collecting biometric information, secure delivery of applications and passports, and more.  They charge fees for their services.  They do not make decisions about applications.

Your application is likely to be processed through the Canadian Visa Office serving your country or region of residence.

Canada If you:

  1. are currently in Canada, and
  2. hold a valid Study Permit or Work Permit, and
  3. have an expired TRV:

you can apply for a new TRV through the Case Processing Centre – Ottawa.

  • There is a special checklist of supporting documents, specifically for paper applications sent to this office.
  • When it is time to send your passport, be sure to follow their mailing instructions.
  • IRCC notes processing times for a TRV application made through this office.
  • IMPORTANT (if you are applying online): the eligibility questionnaire requires you to state that you want to study or work in Canada (matching your current status) to be offered access to the TRV application.  If you select ‘visit’, you will only be offered a chance to change your status in Canada to that of a visitor.


How To Apply

You have two options when applying for a TRV.  Whichever method you choose, the application form itself is the same.  Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada produces an instruction guide that provides insight into completing the form. Your application options include:

  1. Paper

    Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada provides access to the application form, an application guide and further instructions on how to apply. You must also consult the Visa Application Centre (VAC) that serves your country or region of residence as each office may have its own requirements.

    Citizens of some countries are required to provide biometric information (digital photographs and fingerprints) as part of visa applications made outside of Canada.  In such cases, the applicant will need to provide the biometric information at a Visa Application or biometric collection centre, and should not merely mail their application directly to a visa office or application centre.

  2. Online

    Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada will require you to answer a series of questions to determine your eligibility and the supporting documents you will need to include with your application.

    Mail/post your passport to the appropriate visa office only after you are instructed to do so by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada officials.

    NOTE:    If you are already in Canada, the eligibility questionnaire that is completed before accessing the online application requires you to state that you want to study or work in Canada (matching your current status) to be offered access to the TRV application.  If you select visit, you will only be offered a chance to change your status in Canada to that of a visitor.

    If you are having difficulty with the online application, IRCC provides frequently-asked questions about the online system.  If the solution to your issue cannot be found there, details about contacting IRCC are available below.

You may be asked to attend an interview, regardless of how you apply.


Application Fees

TRV applicants will automatically be considered for a multiple-entry visa.

The application fee for a single TRV is $100 CAN (or local equivalent).  The maximum fee for a family’s TRV application is $500.

You must follow the payment instructions for the online application system or the Canadian Visa Office that you are applying to.

Those required to provide biometric information, must pay a separate biometric fee of $85 CAN (or local equivalent) for an individual and a maximum of $170 for a family.


Inviting Family or Friends that Require Visas

You can send them a letter of invitation to include with their TRV application.

You may also want to get verification of enrollment (at no cost) from SOLUS [accessible through]. (DO NOT use this letter from SOLUS to apply Study Permit extension. For extending Study Permit, request this letter from Registrar’s office or School of Graduate Studies. They will provide you the letter to confirm your current enrollment and the expected graduation date which are required by Immigration Canada for your Study Permit extension application) In case there is an issue with that document, students can visit the Records and Services section of the Office of the University Registrar (found in the lower level of Gordon Hall).


After Applying

If your application is successful, your passport will be returned to you with a valid TRV on one page.  You must enter Canada before the expiry date of the visa.


Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

Since 2016, citizens of all visa-exempt countries (excluding the United States) require an eTA before boarding a plane to Canada.

Since May 1, 2017, citizens of Brazil, Bulgaria, and Romania that have EITHER a) had a Canadian Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) in the past 10 years, OR b) have a valid U.S. non-immigrant visa can fly into Canada with an eTA (they still require a visa for entry into Canada by any other means).

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) provides a tool to determine whether a TRV or an eTA is required.

An eTA costs $7 CAD, and is valid for 5 years or until the expiry of your passport (whichever comes first).

Applications are made online and require a valid passport, e-mail address, and credit card.  In most cases, an eTA will be issued in minutes.

Successful first-time applications for study or work permits processed after August 1, 2015 automatically include an eTA for those whose citizenship requires one.

More information about these permits is available on the Studying and Working in Canada pages of our website.

Information in addition to what is noted and linked above is available from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).


Permanent Residency

Permanent residency offers the right to stay in Canada permanently. Please begin your research with our “After Queen’s” page.


Further Questions?

Support through Queen’s

If you have further questions after reviewing the information above, advising is available (without an appointment) from the International Student Advisers at QUIC from Monday to Friday between 8:30am and 4:30pm.


Support outside of Queen’s

IRCC Help Centre

(frequently asked questions – online)

Call Centre  – 1-888-242-2100

(for those already in Canada)

Automated telephone service

(available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week)  If you have a touch-tone telephone, you can listen to prerecorded information about IRCC programs, and check the status of your application.

Call Centre agents

Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (local time, excluding holidays) Services are available in French and English.


(Expect 1 to 2 week response time)

For questions about Temporary Resident Visa applications submitted within Canada.

If your question is about a specific application (if not, use the Help Centre noted above), it is important to provide as much information as possible. This should include:

  • Surname  (last name) – Exactly as it appears on the passport or identity document
  • Given name(s)  (first name) – Exactly as it appears on the passport or identity document
  • Date of birth  (YYYY-MM-DD)
  • Country of birth
  • Complete address  (including the postal code). If the residential address is different from the mailing address, please provide both addresses.
  • Telephone number
  • Unique Client Identifier (UCI) number / Client ID number
  • Type of application submitted    (eg. Temporary Resident Visa)
  • Date that the application was submitted, and whether it was submitted online or mailed to a specific office.
  • Online application reference number  (if applicable)
For specific technical difficulties with the online application system or other aspects of the IRCC website.

In addition to the information noted above, it is also wise to provide  a description of the problem (and screen shots [Mac][Windows])  of:

  • The page you are attempting to access,  and
  • The error message you received (if applicable)
For case-specific questions about applications being processed at a Canadian visa office outside of Canada.

Find the case-specific enquiry link at the page with information about the Canadian Visa Office serving your country or region of residence. There you will also find a generic e-mail address for the office.  Do not use both.  Choose which option is best for your question.

For case-specific questions about applications being processed within Canada.

The case-specific enquiry system for applications processed within Canada can be used when processing has taken longer than the currently advertised processing times, or there are important updates to an application.