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If you want to obtain a visa for Canada, it's important to know first what you want to do in Canada. Do you want to work, study, visit, or reside permanently?

There are a few Canada visa varieties, which can be broadly segmented into a handful of categories.

  • Visitor visas – For people who want to visit Canada on a temporary basis, and who do not intend to work in Canada or take up normal residence in Canada.
  • Study permits – For people who wish to enroll in a study program in Canada for longer than six months.
  • Work permits – For people who want to work in Canada for a period.
  • Permanent residence – For people who want to move to Canada permanently and bring family members with them, if applicable.
  • Canadian citizenship – For permanent residents who want to become citizens of Canada.

The table below will help guide you towards the right visa for Canada for your situation. (If viewing the table on a mobile device, we encourage you to tilt your screen so that you are viewing horizontally.)

Visa for Canada: categories and programs


Study permit

Work permit



Main programs
TRV, eTA, Super Visa, TRPRegular study permit, Student Direct StreamTFWP (LMIA, Global Talent, caregivers, seasonal agriculture)
IMP (IEC, post-grad, Intra-company, NAFTA, CETA, significant benefit)
Economic (Express Entry, PNP, Quebec, Business)
Family Class
Naturalization program
Typical validity period
6m (TRV, eTA)
2 years (Super Visa)
1 day to 3 years (TRP)
Duration of study program + 90 days1-3 yearsPermanent, with residency obligationsPermanent, without restriction
Can you work?
Conditions on work
N/A20 hours per week during academic term, 40 hours during breaksAll permits have a limited validity, and work may also be restricted by: employer, location, industryNone, can work anywhere in Canada & for any employerNone, can work anywhere in Canada & for any employer
Pre-approval to enter CanadaLetter of acceptance from a DLIAll TFWP and some IMP permits require a job offer, open permits do notApproval through a PR programMust have PR first
VisitorInternational studentForeign workerPermanent resident / ImmigrantNaturalized citizen / Immigrant
Annual quota
Unlimited (22.1 million arrived in 2019)Unlimited (402,195 issued in 2019)Unlimited (404,800 issued in 2019, of which 306.6k IMP and 98.2k TFW)341k in 2020
351k in 2021
361k in 2022
Unlimited ((250k newly naturalized Canadians in 2019)
Learn more
Visit CanadaStudy in CanadaWork permitsPR overviewCitizenship FAQ

What next?

If you have identified what you want to do in Canada, it’s time to learn more about exactly which program might be most suitable for your situation. To do this, see our Canada Immigration Guide.

In addition, please sign up for updates covering immigration, employment, and settlement by creating a Moving2Canada account.

About the author

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Rebecca Major

Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of licenced Canadian Immigration experience, gained after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in the UK. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.
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