Unless you travel on nonstop flights between USA and India, checking the citizenship-based visa requirements for transit in a third country is a prerequisite for international travel. This simple step can avert unexpected events such as denial of boarding. If you are scheduled to travel between India and USA via Canada, you should know whether you need to have a transit visa for Canada.
Many Indian nationals are unaware of Canada’s transit visa requirement for their travel on Air Canada flights between USA and India. On top of that they are under the misconception that their US visa authorizes them to travel to USA or India via Canada without a transit visa. The fact is that only US citizens and Green Card holders are eligible for visa-free transit in Canada.
Do all Indian citizens require a Canadian transit visa?
India is listed among the visa-required countries by Canada. Hence, Indian passport holders are required to apply for a Canadian transit visa before they google Air Canada’s best deals for USA-India flights. According to Canada’s immigration rules, you need a transit visa if
- You are taking a connecting flight to/from USA at an airport in Canada
- Your international flight stops at a Canadian airport on its way to India/USA
- Your US-India itinerary has a layover (less than 48 hours) at any Canadian airport
Do Indians holding a US visa require a transit visa for a layover/connecting flight in Canada?
Yes, they do. A transit visa is mandatory for all Indian citizens for transiting through Canada on the way to USA or India. This rule has nothing to do with whatever US visa you have, except Green Card. Be it an H1B, H4, B1/B2, F1/F2 or L1/L2 visa, you must have a Canadian transit visa for traveling on Air Canada between USA and India. The only exception is given for Indians with American citizenship who can transit through Canada visa-free.
Transit visa vs tourist visa for Indians traveling through Canada
A Canadian transit visa is valid for a maximum of 1 or 2 entries and it permits Indians to transit through the airports in Canada for less than 48 hours without leaving the transit zone. If you wish to leave the airport during the layover or if the connection time is longer than 48 hours, then you need a visitor visa. So, kindly note that a transit visa is considered invalid for itineraries with long layovers exceeding 48 hours.
Interestingly, Canada’s transit visa is issued free of charge, and you need to apply at least a few weeks before your planned travel from USA to India via Canada.