Can I enter Canada?

Regardless of the content of this article, be mindful of travel restrictions due to COVID-19!


Can I enter CanadaLinda is a US citizen. As an international student in Canada, she holds a study permit. However, Linda wonders if the study permit gives her the right to enter Canada at any time. Of course, she is a law-abiding citizen. Therefore, she poses this question: “Can I enter Canada?” Well, Linda, keep reading this article, and you’ll find out.

People fall under three different groups concerning Canada:

Depending on the group you fall into, your rights and privileges to enter Canada are different.

Can I enter Canada as a Canadian citizen?

If you are a Canadian citizen, you have the right to enter Canada at any time. Of course, you could locate this right under subsection 6(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Mobility of citizens: Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.

Some court decisions in Canada have emphasized this right as an unqualified right. Of course, this means as long as you manage to prove you are a Canadian citizen, you may enter Canada, no strings attached.

Can I enter Canada as a registered Indian?

The simple answer to this question is yes. Unfortunately, the Constitution Act, 1982, falls short of mentioning this right. However, subsection 19(1) of IRPA expands the right of entry to registered Indians.

Every Canadian citizen within the meaning of the Citizenship Act and every person registered as an Indian under the Indian Act has the right to enter and remain in Canada in accordance with this Act, and an officer shall allow the person to enter Canada if satisfied following an examination on their entry that the person is a citizen or registered Indian.

Can I enter Canada as a permanent resident?

Unlike the citizens, the right of entry for permanent residents is not unqualified. However, subsection 27(1) of IRPA defines this right.

A permanent resident of Canada has the right to enter and remain in Canada, subject to the provisions of this Act.

Of course, you could lose this right by not meeting the residency obligations or becoming inadmissible to Canada. Nonetheless, subsection 19(2) of IRPA reminds the officers of the right of entry for permanent residents.

An officer shall allow a permanent resident to enter Canada if satisfied following an examination on their entry that they have that status.

Can I enter Canada as a foreign national?

When it comes to foreign nationals, the right of entry becomes tricky. Therefore, we are probably better off using the term “privilege” than “right” for this group.

Entering to become a permanent resident of Canada

If the government has approved your permanent residency application, you may travel to Canada to become a permanent resident. Of course, if you are already inside Canada, you could consider virtual landing or flagpoling. However, if you are outside Canada, depending on your nationality, you may hold a PR Visa or an eTA along with a raw COPR. Nonetheless, under paragraph 20(1)(a) of IRPA, you may enter Canada if you convince the officer, you hold proper documents, and you meet the necessary criteria.

Every foreign national, other than a foreign national referred to in section 19, who seeks to enter or remain in Canada must establish, to become a permanent resident, that they hold the visa or other document required under the regulations and have come to Canada in order to establish permanent residence.

Entering as a visitor, a foreign worker or an international student

When you enter Canada as one of the people above, you need to hold onto proper documents. For example, as a visitor, you may need a TRV or an eTA. Nonetheless, foreign workers and international students usually hold a piece of document that shows IRCC has approved their application. Paragraph 20(1)(b) of IRPA emphasizes the presence of proper documentation.

Every foreign national, other than a foreign national referred to in section 19, who seeks to enter or remain in Canada must establish, to become a temporary resident, that they hold the visa or other document required under the regulations and will leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay.

Of course, the documents you need depends on your nationality. Therefore, I suggest reading the following articles.

Can an officer refuse my entry to Canada despite holding a valid TRV?

Even if you hold a valid temporary visa to Canada, an officer may refuse your entry. Nonetheless, section 180 of IRPR describes the circumstances under which you may enter Canada as a visitor.

A foreign national who holds a temporary resident visa is not authorized to enter and remain in Canada as a temporary resident unless, following an examination, it is established that the foreign national and their accompanying family members

    1. met the requirements for issuance of their temporary resident visa at the time it was issued; and
    2. continue to meet these requirements at the time of the examination on entry into Canada.

Public policy and entering Canada

The Minister may, from time to time, restrict certain foreign nationals from entering Canada, based on public policy. Of course, such policies affect foreign nationals only. Nonetheless, subsection 22.1(1) of IRPA gives this right to the Minister as follows:

The Minister may, on the Minister’s own initiative, declare that a foreign national, other than a foreign national referred to in section 19, may not become a temporary resident if the Minister is of the opinion that it is justified by public policy considerations.

However, based on subsection 22.1(2), such policies must be less than 36 months. An example could be travel restrictions because of COVID-19.

Can I enter Canada irregularly?

When you enter Canada, you usually use a port of entry. However, some people may decide to enter Canada irregularly through the common border between Canada and the United States. Of course, such actions are in contravention of IRPA, and the person may receive a removal order, and they have to leave as quickly as possible. Nonetheless, many of those people may file for refugee or a PRRA and remain in Canada until they receive a final decision on their application.

You may also find the following article useful:

If you wish to visit or move to Canada, please fill out our free assessment form. We will review it for free, but we will contact you only if we find an opportunity for you. Alternatively, you may book a consultation session. Consultation sessions are not free, but you will receive formal advice from a licenced practitioner.

Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada


This article provides information of a general nature only. Considering the fluid nature of the immigration world, it may no longer be current. Of course, the item does not give legal advice. Therefore, do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. Consequently, no one could hold us accountable for the content of these articles. Of course, if you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. Alternatively, if you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment.

The characters and places in the articles:
All the characters and locations in the articles are fictional, unless otherwise clearly stated. Therefore, any resemblance in names, dates, and places is coincidental.

Important Notes:
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Al Parsai

Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) in Toronto, Canada. He also teaches immigration courses at Ashton College in Vancouver, Canada. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of ICCRC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

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