Getting Married? Immigration Tips for Anyone Planning a Wedding

Congratulations on your engagement and upcoming wedding!

There are so many things to consider when planning a wedding, that most couples don’t even consider the immigration implications. Whether you are getting married in Canada and have guests attending from overseas, or whether you are getting married overseas and have guests travelling from Canada to attend, there are immigration implications that you and your guests should consider to ensure that no one is prevented from attending your special day.

Here are some immigration tips you may wish to pass on to your guests:

Ability to Enter Canada

All international travellers must carry a valid passport in order to enter Canada. Canadian Dual citizens must have a valid Canadian passport in order to travel to Canada. Permanent residents of Canada must have a valid permanent resident card in order to fly to Canada.  

All foreign nationals, with the exemption of U.S. citizens, must have a valid travel authorization to enter Canada. The type of travel authorization varies depending on whether the foreign national is from a visa requiring or visa exempt country. Those from visa requiring countries will have to apply for a visitor visa and those from a non-visa requiring country will have to apply for an electronic travel authorization.  Your guests can determine which one they need here:  

Visitor Visa (Temporary Resident Visa)

Foreign nationals from visa requiring countries who wish to enter Canada for a holiday, to visit family or for a wedding, amongst other things, require a Temporary Resident Visa. Visitors are restricted in the length of stay and are subject to various conditions. In order to obtain a Temporary Visitor Visa, the applicant must prove that they meet the requirements for admission to Canada as a temporary resident. These requirements include:

  • satisfying an officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your stay (return ticket and proof of ties to country of origin (proof of employment/enrolment in school, ownership of property, bank accounts, etc));
  • showing that you have enough money to maintain yourself and your family members in Canada and to return home (bank account statements);
  • not intending to work or study in Canada unless authorized to do so (proof of what they plan to do in Canada (ie wedding invitation), travel itinerary);
  • being law abiding and have no record of criminal activity (includes DUI and other minor convictions (see Admissibility information below));
  • not be a risk to the security of Canada,
  • and
  • being in good health (complete a medical examination if required).

Some visa requiring foreign nationals will also have to complete a biometric exam as part of their application for a Temporary Resident Visa. Your guests can determine whether they will have to provide biometrics here:

The lawyers at Capelle Kane are able to assist foreign nationals with Temporary Resident Visa applications.


Visa-exempt foreign nationals who visit or transit through Canada by air will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (“ETA”). Only U.S. Citizens (and not U.S. green card holders) and travelers with Canadian work or study permits issued after August 1, 2015, are exempt from the requirement for an ETA.

Airlines will not allow those without a valid ETA to board a flight to Canada. In order to apply for an ETA, foreign nationals must have a valid passport, a credit card, and an email address. ETAs are valid for up to five (5) years (dependent on passport expiry date) and cost $7. ETAs are tied to a foreign national’s passport. Consequently, foreign nationals with new passports will have to apply for a new ETA. In most cases, ETAs are confirmed within minutes. However, some applications may take longer to process. As such, we recommend that your guests apply for their ETA well in advance of their intended travel date.

Foreign nationals should be advised that an ETA is an immigration application, and should carefully consider the accuracy and truthfulness of all information being provided to IRCC. Foreign nationals can be denied an ETA or refused entry to Canada for being inadmissible for reasons including, criminality or medical issues. Failure to answer all questions completely and honestly could result in a finding of misrepresentation which carries with it serious consequences. The lawyers at Capelle Kane are able to assist foreign nationals with properly completing ETA applications and to provide advice on admissibility issues.

Criminal & Medical Admissibility

There are various reasons persons may be found inadmissible to Canada, including, past criminality or medical issues. If your guests were convicted, even if the crime occurred a long time ago, or if they were issued a pardon in the country where the crime was committed, they could be determined to be inadmissible to Canada for past criminality. Depending on the reason for the inadmissibility, your guest may still be allowed to enter Canada with the proper immigration authorization. We would strongly recommend that any guests with concerns that they might be inadmissible consult a Canadian immigration lawyer well in advance of their intended travel date.

Driving Under the Influence (DUIs) can be considered a criminal offence in Canada and anyone who has been convicted of such an offence should consult with a Canadian immigration lawyer to determine whether they are eligible for a Temporary Resident Permit or for Rehabilitation.

What Can Your Guests Bring Into Canada

Prior to travelling to Canada, your guests should consult the Canada Border Services Agency’s website to determine what they can and cannot bring with them to Canada. There are regulations with regards to travelling with pets, animals, food, plants, alcohol and tobacco, CAD $10,000 or more, and weapons.

Destination Weddings & the Ability to Travel Outside of Canada

Couples getting married outside of Canada are not immune to immigration considerations. Before getting married overseas, research the laws relating to foreign marriages in that country. Consider whether a civil marriage in Canada and a ceremony overseas might be an easier path. Some countries require proof from Canada that the Canadian citizen seeking to get married is not already married, and that they are in good health. Look into the marriage requirements of the country where you intend to get married well in advance of your intended marriage to ensure that you are able to obtain the required documentation.

When getting married overseas, you should also consider the passport validity requirements of the country where you intend to get married. Some countries require that foreign nationals have a minimum number of months validity left on their passports to allow entry.

Many countries also have admissibility requirements with regards to allowing entry to foreign nationals with criminal records. Guests with criminal records should research the entry requirements of the country of destination, and possibly consult with an immigration lawyer from that country to ensure that they are admissible.

If any of your guests are permanent residents of Canada, they must also ensure that they have a valid permanent resident card to ensure that they are able to travel back to Canada. Owing to lengthy processing times, permanent residents should apply to renew their permanent resident cards at a minimum 6 months in advance of the expiry date.

Spousal Sponsorship

Canadians or Canadian permanent residents who are marrying foreign nationals whom they wish to sponsor for Canadian permanent residence, should consult with IRCC’s website or a Canadian immigration lawyer regarding the documents required to support a spousal sponsorship application in advance of their wedding. They should also consult with a Canadian immigration lawyer regarding the different types of spousal sponsorships available to them and their spouse’s eligibility for a visitor record or a work permit.

If you want your foreign spouse to return with you to Canada following your wedding, you should consult with a Canadian immigration lawyer regarding their eligibility to enter or remain in Canada as a visitor while awaiting the processing of their application. Eligibility will vary depending on your spouse’s unique circumstances and ability to prove their dual intent. Spouses who apply for permanent residence in Canada may be eligible for an open work permit while awaiting the processing of their application.

The lawyers of Capelle Kane are experienced with spousal sponsorship applications and would be pleased to assist you with your future applications.