Canada - Regulations for entry and stay

Requirements before entering Canada

According to section 11 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, a foreign national must, before entering Canada, apply for a visa or for any other document required by the regulations. The visa or document may be issued if, following an examination, the officer is satisfied that the foreign national is not inadmissible and meets the requirements of this Act.

Entering and Remaining in Canada

Section 18 establishes that every person seeking to enter Canada must appear for an examination to determine whether that person has a right to enter Canada or is or may become authorized to enter and remain in Canada. This also applies to persons who, without leaving Canada, seek to leave an area at an airport that is reserved for passengers who are in transit or who are waiting to depart Canada.

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 to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. An officer shall allow a person to enter Canada if satisfied following an examination upon entry that the person is a citizen or registered Indian.

Every foreign national, other than a foreign national as referred to above, who seeks to enter or remain in Canada must establish,

  1. to become a permanent resident, that they hold the visa or other document required under the regulations and have entered Canada in order to establish permanent residence; and
  2. 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.


A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible on security grounds for

  1. engaging in an act of espionage or an act of subversion against a democratic government, institution or process as they are understood in Canada;
  2. engaging in or instigating the subversion by force of any government;
  3. engaging in terrorism;
  4. being a danger to the security of Canada;
  5. engaging in acts of violence that would or might endanger the lives or safety of persons in Canada; or
  6. being a member of an organization that there are reasonable grounds to believe engages, has engaged or will engage in acts referred to in paragraph (a), (b) or (c).


The matters referred to above do not constitute inadmissibility for a permanent resident or a foreign national who is able to demonstrate to the Ministry’s representative that their presence in Canada is not detrimental to the national interest.

Canadian immigration policy aims to stimulate economic growth and cultural diversity through formal immigration. In fact, the legislation provides for increasing the number of permanent residents, the admission of temporary and highly skilled workers, the promotion of family reunification and the integration of foreigners. With regard to emigration, Canada has a policy of non-intervention.

Canadian legislation distinguishes between a program of permanent migration and temporary residency. The permanent program has three main categories of admission – economic (including skilled workers and professionals as well as business immigrants and provincial nominees), family class (for spouses, children, and parents and grandparents who are sponsored by Canadian permanent residents or citizens) and humanitarian – resettled refugees and successful refugee claimants.

Skilled workers are selected as permanent residents based on their education, work experience, knowledge of English and/or French, and other criteria that have been shown to help them become economically established in Canada. At present, the criteria are targeted to individuals who have post secondary – and most likely university – education. The Business Immigration Program seeks to attract experienced business people to Canada who will support the development of a strong and prosperous Canadian economy.

The family and humanitarian categories are designed to meet social objectives. The “success” of these programs is not judged on the basis of labour market outcomes, but rather the application of the same   benchmarks which apply for Canadians as a whole – low incomes or poverty are a great concern for the same reasons that these outcomes are not acceptable for the Canadian population at large.