ARCHIVED – Backgrounder — Canada’s visa policy

Under Canada’s immigration law, all visitors to Canada require a temporary resident visa, except citizens of countries for which an exemption has been granted under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

A visa requirement is Canada’s first line of defence in controlling the flow of people into the country and ensuring the integrity of Canada’s immigration and refugee programs.

Canada’s visa policy decisions are not based on reciprocity but rather on a country-by-country assessment and seek to ensure there is a balance between welcoming visitors, while protecting the health, safety and security of Canadians.

Currently, there are 51 countries (including Czech Republic) that do not require a visa to visit Canada.

Assessment criteria

All countries and territories are assessed against a comprehensive set of established criteria, which are reflective of Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (CIC) program objectives and Canada’s national interests. These criteria are grouped into seven categories:

  • Socio-economic conditions, including political stability, economic indicators, prevalence of corruption and effectiveness of the legal system;
  • Immigration issues, including rate of asylum claims, visitor visa application refusal rates and immigration violation rates;
  • Travel document integrity, including the security and issuance process for travel documents;
  • Safety and security issues, including criminality, organized crime and national security concerns;
  • Border management, including effective border controls, human smuggling and trafficking concerns;
  • Human rights issues, including the protection of fundamental freedoms; and
  • Bilateral considerations, including cooperation on migration issues, bilateral trade and investment, as well as foreign policy interests.

The criteria provided above under each category are not exhaustive and are meant to provide examples of issues that are examined in visa policy reviews.

CIC reviews visa requirements on a country-by-country basis. This process is supported by ongoing monitoring and careful analysis of conditions and migration trends. Extensive consultations are also under way with federal government partners to ensure that decisions reflect a balance of Canada’s interests.


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