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Immigration Corner: Can I use a US visa to enter Canada?

Published:Monday | December 7, 2015 | 12:00 AM
A passport with the American visa.

Dear Ms Powell,

I am on long leave from my job as a teacher, and I'm visiting with my fiancÈ in New York. He wants us to visit his mother in Canada for the Christmas. Do I need a Canadian visa if I have a United States (US) visa? If I need a visa, can I just apply for it online or can I just visit the Canadian embassy here in New York?

- I.J


Dear I.J,

Each country has its own rules and requirement for granting entry by a foreign national. So, if you are from a 'visa-required' country or territory such as Jamaica, Trinidad, St Vincent, Guyana, Sierra Leon and Bangladesh, you will need to apply for a temporary resident/tourist or visitor's visa to enter Canada. You cannot just use your US visa to enter Canada. Although you may have satisfied the US government that you should be granted a visitor's visa, you will still need to satisfy the Canadian authorities that you qualify for a tourist visa to visit Canada.

If you are from a 'non-visa country' such as a British overseas territory, like Cayman Islands, the BVI, or a citizen of the Bahamas, Barbados or Antigua & Barbuda, you will not need a visitor's visa at this time. However, as of March 16, 2016, citizens of non-visa countries and individuals with a US green card will be required to get and present an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) in order to travel to or through Canada. The ETA is valid for five years or until the passport expires. Only individuals who are citizens of certain countries such as the US, or a 'transit without visa' country, will be exempted from this ETA requirement in 2016.

Assuming you are a citizen of a 'visa-requirement' country, like Jamaica, you will need to apply for a temporary resident. Therefore, if you are in the US on a visitor's visa and not as a citizen or permanent resident, you will be required to have a Canadian temporary resident/ visitor's visa in order to visit your friends and relatives in Canada for Christmas.




Although you may submit your application online and scan and upload your documents, you will still need to provide your biometric information and your passport to the Visa Application Centre (VAC) in your country of permanent residence. The VAC in New York only serves residents of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Bermuda. You will, therefore, need to attend the VAC nearest to your permanent residence in Jamaica to present your fingerprints and original passport, as part of the identification and application process.

In submitting your application for a tourist/ visitor's visa, you will need to prove that you have strong social and economic ties to your home country, and that you intend to return to your home country within the time granted, or before the end of six months. Ensure that you submit a letter from your employer to confirm that you will have a job to return to at the end of your vacation. You should also have a well-written invitation letter from your mother-in-law and documents to show that you are able to afford your trip.

You have the option of submitting an online application plus scan and upload the necessary document via; or submit a paper application to the VAC nearest to your permanent residence. The contact information for the centres in Jamaica are:

Visa Application Centre - Kingston

31 Upper Waterloo Road,

Kingston 10

Phone number: (876) 632-7370,

Email address:

Visa Application Centre - Montego Bay

14 Sunset Boulevard

Montego Bay, St James

Phone number: (876) 632-7370

Email address:

- Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public. Submit your questions and comments to: Email: Subject line: Immigration