Can I Visit Canada with a B-1/B-2 Visa?

Updated on April 19, 2024

As a holder of a US B-1/B-2 visa, you may be wondering if your travel opportunities extend beyond the United States. Can you use your visa to explore the stunning landscapes and vibrant cities of Canada? In this blog post, we’ll clarify the cross-border travel rules for B-1/B-2 visa holders, helping you understand your eligibility and the steps required to visit Canada legally and hassle-free.

30 Second Recap:

While the B-1/B-2 visa allows for temporary visits to the United States for business, tourism, or medical purposes, it does not automatically grant entry into Canada.

For most B-1/B-2 visa holders, an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is required to enter Canada by air.

The eTA application process involves providing personal information, passport details, and answering background questions.

In some cases, a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) may be required instead of an eTA, depending on the traveler’s country of origin.

When crossing the border, travelers should be prepared to present their B-1/B-2 visa, valid passport, and proof of ties to their home country.


Understanding B-1 and B-2 Visas

The B-1 and B-2 visas are types of nonimmigrant visas granted by the United States to individuals entering temporarily for business (B-1) or tourism, pleasure, or medical treatment (B-2). The visas are issued for up to 10 years. Your visa generally allows for a stay of up to six months at a time. With a B-1/B-2 visa, you’re allowed multiple entries into the U.S., which could influence your eligibility for visiting nearby countries such as Canada.

Eligibility and Requirements for B-1/B-2 Visa Holders to Visit Canada

In this section, you’ll discover the specific criteria and procedures that apply to you as a B-1/B-2 visa holder when considering a visit to Canada.

Visa-Exempt Countries and ETA

Canada has a list of visa-exempt countries whose citizens can enter Canada for short stays without obtaining a visa. As a B-1/B-2 U.S. visa holder, you are not automatically visa-exempt for entry into Canada. The visa exemption depends on your nationality and the type of passport you hold. You may need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) for short visits, typically if you’re flying into Canada.

Need help with your B-2 visa?

Navigating the B-2 visa process doesn’t have to be daunting. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the requirements and steps involved, our team of experts is here to lend a hand. We can help you understand the eligibility criteria, gather the required documents, and smoothly guide you through the application process. Let us make your travel to the United States for leisure or medical purposes as stress-free as possible.

Eligibility Criteria for US Visa Holders

To visit Canada with a U.S. B-1/B-2 visa, your eligibility is primarily determined by your nationality and the validity of your passport.

  • You must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the period you intend to stay in Canada.
  • If you are a national of one of the countries under Visa Required Travellers, you will need a visa to visit Canada.

You can use this quiz from the Canadian government to determine if you need a visa for your travel.

Application Process and Documentation

Before you plan your visit to Canada on B-1/B-2 visa, know whether you need a Canadian entry visa or just eTA. Depending on what you need, gather all the documents and adhere to additional steps if you come from certain countries.

Documents Required to Visit as a Tourist

  • a valid passport (regular, official, or diplomatic) from most countries (there are some exceptions)
  • alien’s passport for stateless persons
  • US Permit to Re-Enter (Form I-327)
  • US Refugee Travel Document (Form I-571)
  • other refugee travel documents for non-citizens
  • Form IMM 5476 – For family members who are applying on behalf of the visitor
  • Form IMM 5645 – All applicants above 18 years old.
  • Additional documents for Minors – Depending on whether the minor is traveling alone, with parents, or with someone else, additional travel authorization letters could be needed.

Required Documentation for Entry into Canada with a Visa

To enter Canada on a B-1/B-2 visa, you’ll need to provide certain documents that verify your identity and reason for your visit. These include:

  • A valid passport or travel document.
  • Proof of financial support for the duration of your stay.
  • A letter of invitation from someone who lives in Canada, if applicable.
  • Documentation proving you will leave Canada after your visit.

This list is not exhaustive, and depending on your situation, additional documents like medical exam results or a police certificate may be required.

Applying for Electronic Travel Authorization

If you are from a visa-exempt country, instead of a visa, you’ll apply for an eTA. This is a much simpler process which you can complete online. You will need:

  • A valid passport.
  • A credit or debit card to pay the small fee.
  • An email address.

The eTA is electronically linked to your passport and valid for five years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. Travelers with a valid US B-1/B-2 visa also need an eTA to fly to or transit through a Canadian airport. More detailed information can be found on how to apply for a visitor visa.

Additional Steps for Certain Nationalities

Nationals from countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, among others, face additional scrutiny and may require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV). The application process includes submitting biometrics (photograph and fingerprints) and may involve an in-person interview at a Visa Application Center. For these individuals, starting the application process well in advance of travel is crucial to ensure all necessary steps are completed. When preparing your visa application, ensure that all your documentation is complete to avoid delays or rejections. For extensive and country-specific requirements, you can find step-by-step guidance on the official steps to apply for a visitor visa page.

Guidance for Traveling to Canada on a B-2 Visa

Below, you’ll find some key guidance on entering Canada with a B-1/B-2 visa, based on real visa holders’ experiences at the border:

  1. A U.S. visa alone does not grant entry into Canada. As one user succinctly stated, “US visas are to enter the US…not canada.”
  2. The U.S. government website quoted in the original post pertains to re-entering the U.S. from Canada or Mexico, not entering those countries from the U.S. As a commenter clarified, “Read that page again. It’s talking about coming back into the United States after departing to Canada or Mexico, not getting into either of those countries from the United States.”
  3. Depending on your nationality, holding a valid U.S. B-1/B-2 visa may exempt you from needing a Canadian tourist visa for air travel to Canada. However, as one user explained, this “does NOT exempt you from applying for and getting an eTA (electronic travel authorization) online before traveling to Canada.”
  4. To determine the specific entry requirements for your situation, consult the official Canadian government website. A helpful link was provided: “Answer the questions on the following site to determine what you need to enter Canada:”
  5. Some nationalities, such as Mexicans, can enter Canada without a separate Canadian visa if they hold a valid U.S. visa, but they still need to obtain an eTA. As a commenter noted, “Mexicans only need an eTA visa to enter Canada which takes like 5 mins to complete, regardless if they have USA visa or not.”

In summary, while holding a U.S. B-1/B-2 visa may streamline the process of entering Canada for some nationalities, it does not automatically grant entry. Travelers must still meet the specific requirements for their situation, which may include obtaining an eTA or other documentation. Always consult official Canadian government resources for the most accurate and up-to-date information on entry requirements.

Need help with your B-2 visa?

Navigating the B-2 visa process doesn’t have to be daunting. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the requirements and steps involved, our team of experts is here to lend a hand. We can help you understand the eligibility criteria, gather the required documents, and smoothly guide you through the application process. Let us make your travel to the United States for leisure or medical purposes as stress-free as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the entry requirements for Canada for holders of a US B-1/B-2 visa?
If you hold a US B-1/B-2 visa, you can visit Canada as a tourist for up to six months. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your planned stay in Canada.

Does holding a US B-1/B-2 visa influence the Canadian tourist visa application process?
Holding a US B-1/B-2 visa generally allows for travel to Canada, but it doesn’t necessarily influence the Canadian visa application process. Each application is assessed on its own merits.

Are travelers with a US B-1 or B-2 visa eligible to cross the border into Canada?
Travelers with a US B-1 or B-2 visa can cross the border into Canada, but they must meet Canada’s entry requirements, which may include an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) or a separate Canadian visa.

How does a US B-1/B-2 visa affect my ability to travel to other countries from the United States?
Your US B-1/B-2 visa allows for travel within the US and does not directly affect your ability to travel to other countries from the US. You will still need to meet the destination country’s entry requirements.

With a US B-1/B-2 visa, what are my options for visiting neighboring countries like Mexico?
Holders of a US B-1/B-2 visa can also visit Mexico for short durations without obtaining a separate Mexican visa, provided they comply with Mexico’s visa exemption policies.

What is the process for entering the USA from Canada with a tourist visa?
When returning to the United States from Canada, you must ensure that your US B-1/B-2 tourist visa is still valid, and you may be required to go through the border immigration process to re-enter the US.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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