Organizing an International Event or Meeting

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is responsible for assisting event and meeting organizers planning to stage international gatherings by offering information about visas and entry requirements for participants.  Organizers should get in touch with the CIC early on in order to have any immigration questions addressed.  For instance, the CIC can address admissibility prerequisites, temporary resident visas (TRVs), necessary travel documents and work permits.  Contacting the CIC will give the department an opportunity to arrange resources to handle the visa application processing and to give the immigration officers prior knowledge of the event.

Contact the Special Events Coordinator at (613) 952-5382, or Special.Events@cic.gc.ca

Unless the participants are visiting from a country that doesn’t require a visa, they will need to contact a Canadian visa office in their home country to apply for a temporary resident visa.  It is impossible to obtain a visa at any port of entry.

For more information on TRVs, visit here.

When applying for a TRV, the participants must assure the CIC that the meeting or event is the reason why they are coming to Canada.

They must also provide evidence for the following circumstances:

  • they are in good health.  It is possible that a medical examination is requested.
  • they do not possess a criminal record
  • they are not a security threat
  • they have sufficient funds to support themselves and their dependents while visiting Canada
  • they will leave Canada when the authorized time elapses
  • they meet all the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

Participants may also need a valid passport or an appropriate travel document.

There are exceptions for the following people:

  • United States citizens.  A passport is not necessary, but a document that proves citizenship is still required, like a birth certificate, a citizenship certificate, a naturalization certificate or a state birth certificate.  These documents need to have their photograph, or an additional piece of identification will be required, such as a driver’s license.
  • Permanent United States residents entering directly from the U.S. Again, a passport would not be necessary, but a resident alien card should be on their person.  If the permanent resident is entering Canada from a different country other than the U.S., then a passport would be required.  Meanwhile, temporary U.S. residents could present a resident alien card only when entering Canada by land, whereas a passport would be required when entering by air or sea.
  • Members of the armed forces. Visitors from countries designated under the Visiting Forces Act who are visiting Canada on official duty.
  • Members of flight crews. Visitors who possess an airline flight crew licence or a crew member certificate issued in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organization specifications.

Travelling with children

If participants are travelling with a child that is 17 or under, they should have a valid passport or an appropriate travel document for each child.  If the child is not legally their own, the participant should possess a letter of permission from the child’s parent or legal guardian.  If custody is shared, the participant should carry copies of legal documents regarding custody.

The fee for processing a single-entry visa application is $75, non-refundable.  However, if a meeting is hosted by the Government of Canada or a United Nations organization, the fee for the participant could be waived.  Fill out the Notice of an International Event or Meeting form to see if this applies to you.  You can find the form here.  Dependents of people accompanying participants, or members of the media, who are visiting Canada are not eligible for these exemptions.

In order to avoid delays, urge the participants to submit properly completed applications early to their local visa office.  Processing times are affected based on the complexities of the application, so apply with a decent window of time before the event.

When you are trying to focus on the logistics of organizing, it may seem overwhelming to consider all the requirements to bring a foreign national to Canada.  An experienced Canadian immigration lawyer can ease this concern by taking care of all the formalities associated with federal regulations, so you can pay more attention to your own affairs.

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