Changes to Canadian Visa Rules

Saudi nationals can now get five-year multiple-entry temporary resident visas to enter Canada. The changes facilitate the movement of students and business people between Saudi Arabia and Canada. Despite the stricter visa controls, the number of Saudis entering Canada on temporary resident visas has increased considerably since 2002. In 2009, Canada granted temporary resident visas to 5,292 new Saudi students and 1,665 Saudi workers in 2009, according to data compiled by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Starting in 2002, Saudi nationals were required to apply for temporary resident visas before coming to Canada to visit, study or work, and each visa was only valid for a period of 18 months. These strict visa requirements were imposed on Saudis due to security concerns over fraudulent Saudi passports. Prior to 2002, Saudi nationals could enter Canada without a visa.

There are currently around 8,200 students from Saudi Arabia at Canadian academic institutions, including 750 medical doctors. Two thousand more students from Saudi Arabia are expected to start studying in Canada before 2011. Canada hopes that the more lenient temporary resident visa policy will permit more Saudi visitors, students and workers to enter the country.