It is a common misconception that the services of an immigration lawyer would mainly be used if seeking permanent residency to another country. However, that is far from the truth. Immigration lawyers can assist with navigating through complex laws and the requisite steps necessary to obtain a student visa, assist with a refugee application and process, obtain visitor visas, amongst many other services.
Depending on the country you are from, you may be fine to travel to Canada with just a valid passport along with an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). However, residents of most countries will need to have a counterfoil visitor visa affixed to their passport before travelling (a counterfoil is a specially designed sticker on which missions abroad print visa information and affix in the applicant’s passport together with a seal to prevent tampering). It is important to note that these documents will need to be properly issued and valid before you try to enter Canada. Below is a quick and broad overview of what you may need.
What Do You Need for Your Visit?
It all depends on your specific situation. As stated on the Government of Canada website, the entry documents you need depends on:
- the type of travel document you plan to travel with;
- the country that issued your travel document;
- your nationality; and,
- your method of travel to Canada for this trip.
The easiest way to determine your required documentation to visit Canada (either an eTA or a counterfoil visitor visa) is to check Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s website. Enter all of the information necessary and you will receive information on whether or not you need a counterfoil visitor visa or an eTA. If your situation is more complex, then there is the option to consult with an immigration lawyer.
Counterfoil Visitor Visa vs. eTA
A counterfoil visitor visa can also be referred to as a temporary resident visa (TRV). This is an official document which is usually granted by a Canadian visa office abroad and affixed to your passport. With a counterfoil visitor visa, you may be able to stay in Canada for up to six months. In most of the cases, you may also need a counterfoil visitor visa if you are transiting through a Canadian airport on your way to your final destination.
On a side note, for parents and grandparents who wish to stay beyond a six-month period, a counterfoil super visa may be an option, if they are eligible. Once granted and affixed to a passport, a counterfoil super visa allows for multiple entries and their bearer may stay in Canada for a period of up to two years with their children and/or grandchildren.
Shortly, an eTA is a number electronically linked to your passport. It is valid for up to five years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. You may visit Canada as often as you’d like for short stays of six months or less, and that while your eTA is valid.
With some exceptions, an eTA is generally required from:
- visa-exempt foreign nationals who are travelling to Canada by air; or,
- lawful permanent residents of the United States of America (Green Card holders) who are travelling to Canada by air OR transiting through a Canadian airport.
There are also other circumstances that allow for eTA eligibility rather than a visa, if travelling to Canada by air.
Depending on the situation, the application process for either of these can be stressful and overwhelming. If you want to ensure that all documentation is in proper order and that all necessary steps have been taken, then you may have an immigration lawyer to guide you through the process.
Extending Your Stay
If you want to extend your stay in Canada as a visitor, you need to apply before your current legal status (that is the authorized period for your stay) expires. The online processing may take some time, so it is imperative that you plan ahead as best you can and allot enough time for this process to be completed.
For the most part, it is safe to assume that you will need either a visitor visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization for any trip to Canada. Using the services of an immigration lawyer who is well-versed in immigration law can help facilitate the process and ensure your best chance of success.