What happens if I overstay my visit in Canada?

Updated: Nov 29, 2023 | Tags: Overstayed, Canada eTA Rules, Canada eTA Eligibility

Traveling to Canada, whether on a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), comes with specific responsibilities, including adhering to the length of stay permitted by these documents. Overstaying a visa or eTA in Canada can have serious consequences. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of what happens if you overstay in Canada, the potential impacts on future travel, and steps that may be taken to rectify the situation.

Understanding Visa and eTA Regulations

Visa: A Canadian visa is a document that allows entry into Canada for a specific period, as determined by the border officers. The expiry date of your stay is not the same as the expiry date of the visa itself.

eTA: An eTA is required for visa-exempt foreign nationals flying to or transiting through a Canadian airport. It allows for stays of up to six months at a time.

The implications of overstaying

  • Illegal Status: Once you overstay your authorized period, you are considered to be illegally remaining in Canada. This can lead to detainment and deportation.
  • Impact on Future Travel: Overstaying can severely impact your ability to return to Canada in the future. It can result in being barred from entering Canada for several years.
  • Record in Immigration Database: Overstays are recorded in Canada’s (IRCC) immigration database, which can affect future visa applications not only to Canada but also to other countries.

Reasons for overstaying

Understanding why people overstay is essential. It could be due to a misunderstanding of visa terms, personal circumstances, or an emergency that prevented departure before the visa expired.

What to do if you have overstayed

Voluntary departure: The best course of action is to leave Canada as soon as you realize you have overstayed. This may help in mitigating the consequences.

Apply for restoration of status: If you have overstayed but not by more than 90 days, you may be eligible to apply for restoration of status.

Seek legal advice: Consulting an immigration lawyer can provide guidance on the best steps to take based on individual circumstances.

Consequences of overstaying

  • Inadmissibility: Overstaying can lead to being deemed inadmissible to Canada for a period of time, typically for five years.
  • Deportation: In some cases, overstayers may be deported from Canada, which involves a formal process and a removal order.
  • Ban on Future Entries: You may receive a ban on entering Canada for a specific period, or in severe cases, permanently.

Avoiding overstays

  • Be aware of your authorized stay: Always be clear on the date by which you must leave Canada.
  • Maintain validity of documents: Ensure your travel documents, such as your passport, remain valid throughout your stay.
  • Apply for extensions in time: If you wish to extend your stay, apply well before your current status expires.

Myths about overstaying

Grace Period: There is no automatic grace period for overstaying a visa or eTA in Canada.

Easy Fixes: Rectifying an overstay is not always straightforward and can be a complex process.

Extenuating circumstances

In some cases, such as medical emergencies or flight cancellations, you may be able to explain your overstay. Documentation and evidence of these circumstances are crucial.


Overstaying a visa or eTA in Canada is a serious matter with significant consequences. It is important for travelers to understand and respect the terms of their stay to avoid legal complications, inadmissibility issues, and future travel restrictions. In the event of an overstay, taking immediate and appropriate action, including seeking legal advice, is crucial. By being informed and vigilant about the terms of your stay, you can ensure that your time in Canada is enjoyable and compliant with immigration regulations. Remember, adhering to visa or eTA conditions is not just about following the law; it’s about respecting the integrity of international travel and the hospitality of the host country.