Canada, our “neighbor to the North”, makes for a great travel destination from the United States. There are so many wonderful cities just a short drive over the border, offering wonderful cuisine, beautiful site-seeing, and so many things to do while you are visiting. When going there remember about eTA Canada which is necessary to enter the country.
But what if you want to stay in Canada for longer than just a weekend trip? What are your options? How long can you stay in Canada with just your passport and your worldly possessions?
If you are planning to relocate to Canada permanently, you will definitely need a visa. You can apply through Canada’s immigration offices and based on your occupation, you may stand a better chance of getting a work visa than others.
But if you are in Canada with your passport, there is a set limit of six months. Regardless of whether a person is in Canada for personal or business reasons, the time period in which they have to stay is six months.
There are exceptions to this rule, but they don’t happen often. An immigration official will tell you if you are ineligible to stay that long, informing you of their decision and the reason behind it.
Reasons you may be denied entry to Canada
Keep in mind, Canadian immigration officers have the right to refuse entry to any American for any number of reasons. Typically speaking, having a DUI conviction on your record could be a cause for denial, but that’s not automatic; it is up to the officials on a case-by-case trial.
Other things that could keep you out of Canada: committing international or human rights violations, being connected to organized crime, and being convicted of other specific crimes. Basically, if you don’t have a serious conviction on your record, you will be allowed to enter Canada without any real trouble or issue.
It does not matter how you get to Canada, once you arrive, that is when your six-month window officially opens. There are no exceptions to this rule. If you fly or arrive to Canada by sea, you have to have a valid passport with you. This is the small book that customs officers will stamp when you travel internationally. Even babies have to have a passport when traveling internationally.
For those who choose to cross the border by driving, there are passport cards that are a slightly cheaper alternative to the booklets. There are also options for adult travelers such as an Enhanced Driver’s License, or a SENTRI, NEXUS, or FAST card.
What if I want to stay in Canada for longer than six months?
It is important that you not wait until the last second to decide whether or not you plan to stay in Canada past the six-month mark. You need at least a 30-day window to communicate your wishes to the Canadian immigration office.
In most cases, you can apply for an extension through the immigration office. There are, however, a lot of different variables that can affect the decision of the immigration office. These variables include what the purpose of your stay is and whether you are related to any current Canadian citizens.
There is also a helpful tool through the Canadian government’s website that provides answers to specific questions about extending your temporary stay. It is important to note that this is not a definitive answer; if you have questions, it is always better to talk to someone from the immigration office as circumstances could be different than the generic questions listed on the website.
Generally speaking, as long as you don’t have a serious conviction on your record, you will be permitted to not only enter Canada, but stay for up to six months without a visa of some sort. Past that point, if you hope to stay permanently or for an extended period of time, you will have to file the proper paperwork with the Canadian customs office.
Making sure that your ducks are in a row and hat you have filed the proper paperwork with the Canadian immigration office is an important step to making sure that your stay goes smoothly and that your extended stay is properly approved just remember if you are planning to go to Canada by sea you need to have eTA Canada