Issuing a visa: Transit, single-entry and multiple-entry visas

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

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Transit visa

Foreign nationals who are required to obtain a visa for travel to Canada will also need a transit visa to travel through Canada without stopping or visiting. This visa is required even if the foreign national will be in Canada for less than 48 hours. There is no fee for a transit visa.

The Transit Without Visa Program and the China Transit Program allow certain foreign nationals to transit through Canada on their way to and from the United States without a Canadian transit visa if they meet certain requirements.

Single-entry visa

The single-entry visa

  • allows the foreign national to enter Canada only once during the visa’s period of validity;
  • may be issued up to 6 months before the expected date of travel;
  • should have an expiry date of at least one month after the expected date of arrival in Canada.

Note: A temporary resident who entered Canada on a single-entry visa may re-enter Canada following a visit solely to the United States or St. Pierre et Miquelon within the period initially authorized for their stay in Canada [R190(3)(f)].

Multiple-entry visa

The multiple-entry visa

  • allows the holder to seek entry into Canada from any country as often as necessary during the visa’s period of validity;
  • is issued with long-term validity to facilitate entry into Canada for legitimate travelers;
  • has a maximum validity date of up to 10 years or one month before the expiry date on the travel document;
  • should now be considered the standard document to issue, and any single-entry visa issuance requires officers to provide an explanation recorded in the application notes (e.g., a single-entry visa could be considered where an applicant is participating in a one-time special event in Canada for a very short duration);
  • can still be valid but affixed in an expired travel document (in this case, the holder must also be in possession of a newer and valid travel document and must present both travel documents to the airline carrier in order to travel to Canada and to the border services officer in order to seek entry into Canada).

Guidelines for issuing single- or multiple-entry visas

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) continues to promote the issuance of long-term multiple-entry visas to facilitate entry into Canada for legitimate travellers. All applicants who are eligible for a multiple-entry visa will benefit and be issued one.

It should be noted that not all applicants are eligible for a multiple-entry visa and that the decision remains at the discretion of an IRCC officer. A single-entry visa may be issued in cases where, for example,

  • an applicant is eligible for a fee exemption and the purpose of entry to Canada is limited (e.g., for an official visit by a foreign national);
  • an applicant is participating in a one-time special event in Canada;
  • country-specific procedures or guidelines are in place and approved by the IRCC National Headquarters.

If an officer chooses to issue a single-entry visa, the reasons are to be entered in the case notes. Officers are to take note that the issuance of a multiple-entry visa should now be considered the standard and any single-entry visa issuance requires an explanation.

Persons who have been issued single-entry visas and for whom the period authorized for their stay in Canada has not ended may travel to the United States and back. They do not have to obtain a second temporary resident visa to re-enter Canada [R190(3)(f)].

Proof of support and coverage for medical emergencies

Some visitors plan to live in Canada for more than 6 months or up to one or more years (e.g., the spouses of foreign students or elderly parents of Canadian citizens).

In addition to assessing these applicants against normal temporary residence requirements, officers should also be satisfied that the host is able to support a long-term visitor and that possible medical emergencies have been covered.

In cases where multiple-entry visas can be issued, they should be issued for the maximum validity period according to the passport validity period (up to 10 years minus one month).

If a client has applied and paid for a multiple-entry visa and the visa officer is satisfied that the client is a bona fide temporary resident and is not inadmissible to Canada, a multiple-entry visa with the maximum validity period should be issued. This practice, which is already recommended for parents and grandparents with sponsorships being processed, should be extended to other clientele (e.g., business visitors).

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