Citizens of dozens of countries – including the USA, most Western European and Commonwealth countries, as well as Mexico, Japan, South Korea and Israel – don’t need visas to enter Canada for stays of up to 180 days. US permanent residents are also exempt.
Nationals of around 150 other countries, including South Africa and China, need to apply to the Canadian visa office in their home country for a temporary resident visa (TRV). The website maintained by Citizenship & Immigration Canada (CIC; www.cic.gc.ca) has full details, including office addresses and the latest requirements. A separate visa is required if you plan to study or work in Canada.
Single-entry TRVs ($75) are usually valid for a maximum stay of six months from the date of your arrival in Canada. Multiple-entry TRVs ($150) allow you to enter Canada from all other countries multiple times while the visa is valid (usually two or three years), provided no single stay exceeds six months.
Visa extensions ($75) need to be filed with the CIC Visitor Case Processing Centre (888-242-2100; 8am-4pm Mon-Fri) in Alberta at least one month before your current visa expires.