Visa-exempt Travel to USA (and St. Pierre and Miquelon)
Posted on 19/11/2023
The only exemption from a visa requirement is to return to Canada after visiting only the USA or St. Pierre and Miquelon within the initial valid period of your study permit, work permit or visitor record.
If you’re a foreign national in Canada on a work or study permit, listen up. This could apply to you, especially if you want to travel during your work or study permit period of validity.
In accordance with Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) Section 190 (3) (f), you may be exempt from requiring a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) – in other words a Visitor Visa – if and only if all of the following 3 conditions hold:
- You are re-entering Canada following a visit only and solely to:
- The United States, or
- St. Pierre & Miquelon (2 small islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence that remain under French control)
- You were granted a study permit or a work permit before you left Canada on your visit to the USA, or to St. Pierre and Miquelon.
- You re-enter Canada (that is, you return to Canada after your visit to USA or St. Pierre and Miquelon) by the end of the validity period – including any extensions granted – of your study or work permit.
- Please note that while IRPR states that you can return after the end of any extension of your work or study period, the IRCC page clarifying this section of IRPR states that you must return “within the initial period authorized by an officer”.
- This suggests that it might be a good idea to play it safe and only visit the USA (or St. Pierre and Miquelon) visa-free before the end of your initial validity period for your work or study permit. In other words, don’t push your luck by staying outside Canada until the end of any extension of your validity period. Stick with the initial period.
In other words, for most readers who are in Canada on a study or work permit, this means you can travel to the USA and return without needing a Visitor Visa, as long as your Work or Study Permit is still valid.
This exemption from needing a TRV (Visitor Visa) also applies to holders of a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or a valid Visitor Record (VR) with the same conditions applying:
- Only for visits to the USA & St. Pierre and Miquelon
- Your VR or TRP must still be valid
Additionally, it’s important to understand who this rule does not apply to.
- The example given by IRCC is that of a foreign national who is on a cruise vacation and stops for a visit in Canada. Their cruise ship then departs Canada and docks in the USA and then sails through international waters and then returns to Canada.
- In this case, they would need a new visitor’s visa to visit Canada, as their second docking in Canada is considered a separate visit.
So, remember, that unless you return directly to Canada from your visit to the USA or to St. Pierre and Miquelon, you may need a visitor visa to re-enter Canada.