Visa Exemption to Canada because of the Purpose of Visit

Visa Exemptions to Canada because of the purpose of visitZahir is a citizen of Sudan. He travelled to Canada last month. Zahir holds a single-entry visa to Canada. However, his visa will expire in two weeks. Consequently, Zahir has applied for an extension of his status in Canada.

Meanwhile, he received a visit visa from the United States. Considering his situation, Zahir wonders if he could travel to the US and return to Canada for renewing his status. He has heard, the purpose of the visit could exempt certain people from obtaining a new visa to Canada. 

Canada welcomes millions of visitors every year. However, most of the visitors to Canada are the US citizens who are exempt from visas or eTAs to enter our country. Luckily, many other visitors to Canada may also visit Canada without the need to obtain a visa.

What does it mean to be exempt from a visa?

If a person is a foreign national to Canada, they may need a visa for the following reasons:

We call such visas a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV). Unfortunately, the process of obtaining a TRV is relatively tricky and time-consuming. Read the following article for more information:

If you are exempt from a TRV, then you don’t need to go through the TRV application process. However, if you intend to work, study, or immigrate to Canada, you still need to apply for proper documents. Despite being exempt from a TRV, most visa-exempt visitors to Canada need to go through a security screening process called eTA. Read the following article for more details.

If you are a US citizen, then you are exempt from both TRVs and eTAs.

Exemption from TRV because of the purpose of visit

The following people are exempt from TRVs because of the documents they hold [practitioners see R190(3)]:

  • Most flight crews [practitioners see R190(3)(a)],
  • Passengers of a flight that lands in Canada or refuelling. The destination or origin of such flights must be the United States. All the passengers need to show they may lawfully enter the US [practitioners see R190(3)(b)],
  • Passengers of a flight that emergency lands in Canada [practitioners see R190(3)(b.1)],
  • Citizens of the certain countries who transit to the US under the Transit Without Visa (TWOV) Program [practitioners see R190(3)(c), R190(4) and R280],
  • Certain members of foreign armed forces [practitioners see R190(3)(d)],
  • Some international flight safety inspecters [practitioners see R190(3)(g)],
  • Professionals who enter Canada for aviation accident or incident investigations [practitioners see R190(3)(h)],
  • People who re-enter Canada following a visit to the United States or St. Pierre and Miquelon only. However, these people must,
    • hold a valid study permit, work permit or TRV before leaving Canada, and
    • return to Canada while they have a valid status or implied status [practitioners see R190(3)(f)].

The latter is the basis for most flagpoling efforts.

Note: This list is subject to change. Consequently, double-check with IRCC or our office to make sure the information is up-to-date.

The Transit Without Visa (TWOV) Program

This program allows certain nationalities transit via Canada without the need to obtain a TRV. However, to qualify, you must meet all the following requirements.

  • Be a citizen of Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, or Taiwan.
  • Hold a valid passport of the prospective country and a valid visa to the US.
  • Travel through a participating Canadian international airport, namely:
    • Vancouver International Airport in British Columbia
    • Calgary International Airport in Alberta
    • Winnipeg International Airport in Manitoba
    • Toronto Pearson International Airport (Terminal 1 only) in Ontario
  • Fly with one of the following airlines:
    • Air Canada
    • Air Canada Rouge
    • Cathay Pacific
    • China Eastern Airlines
    • Air China
    • Air Georgian
    • China Southern Airlines
    • Hainan Airlines
    • Jazz Aviation LP
    • Philippine Airlines
    • Sky Regional Airlines, Inc.
    • West Jet
    • XiamenAir [source – IRCC website].

This information is subject to change. Consequently, double-check with IRCC or our office to make sure the information is up-to-date.

What to do if these circumstances apply to me?

If these circumstances apply to you, then you may enter Canada without applying for a TRV or eTA. However, make sure you hold proper documentation.

What to do if I am inadmissible to Canada?

Some people could be inadmissible to Canada. If you are one of them, then you may need to apply for one or some of the following documents:

Consider booking a consultation session with our immigration consultant for more information. Regardless, if you are a diplomat with inadmissibility issues, consult with your Foreign Affairs department. Unless you are travelling as an ordinary citizen, we cannot help you.

What to do if I do not meet these circumstances?

If your document is not on the list, you may still be exempt from a TRV because of your nationality or the documents you hold. If none of those apply to you, then you need a TRV.

What if my purpose of the visit is studying, working, or immigration?

If you intend to study, work, or immigrate to Canada, then read one of the following articles or fill out our assessment form.

Remember, with some exceptions; you need proper permits to achieve any of those goals.

If you wish to visit or move to Canada, please fill out our free assessment form. We will review the form 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


Assessing Immigration or Visa to Canada

This article provides information of a general nature only. It may no longer be current. It does not give legal advice. Do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. We cannot be held responsible for the content of these articles. If you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. If you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment. All the characters in the articles are fictional, unless otherwise clearly stated. Any resemblance in names, dates, and places (whether individuals, organizations, regions, or countries) is coincidental.

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Al Parsai

This article has been expertly crafted by Al Parsai, a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University. A respected member of CICC and CAPIC organizations, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.