Canadian Visa for Athletes

Every year thousands of sporting events and activities are held in Canada. They range from amateur activities to professional games and competitions. As a result, athletes and coaches from all around the world come to Canada in order to participate and compete. At some point, the question of a Canadian visa for athletes will come up.

Is there a Canadian visa for athletes?

There is no special Canadian visa for athletes. This means that you, as a professional or amateur athlete, may come to Canada on a visitor’s visa. (Or, if you are from a visa-exempt country, you do not need a visa at all, just an electronic travel authorization (eTA). Read this article, Canadian visitor visa, to find out how you can get your visa or eTA.)

The real issue to consider is whether you will require a work permit.

Do you need a work permit? 

Participants or contestants: Foreign athletes and coaches participating in sport events or activities in Canada do not need work permits. Canada has made this possible under the International Mobility Program. To learn more about the International Mobility Program, visit the Government of Canada website.

Employees: You will need a work permit if you, as an athlete or coach, are hired by a Canadian employer. This applies to athletes and coaches who are not representing their country of nationality and are hired by a Canadian employer to play or represent Canada.

Ever consider moving to Canada?

If you are an athlete or coach who wishes to make Canada your permanent home, consider the Federal Self-Employed Persons immigration program. This program is designed to attract talented, self-employed athletes to contribute to and represent Canada.

An alternative immigration program is Canada’s Express Entry system. As an experienced athlete with at least 1 year of employment history, you might be eligible. To learn more about immigration to Canada through Express Entry, read this article on Express Entry: The fast lane for immigration to Canada.

Both the Federal Self-Employed Persons program and Express Entry ultimately result with you receiving permanent residence status in Canada if your application is approved.

Contact us

For more information about work permits or Canadian immigration programs suitable for athletes and coaches, please contact us. Our Law Offices would be happy to answer your questions.


The information available on or from this webpage or article are provided for general informational purposes only. None of the information provided constitutes legal advice. The information provided is not guaranteed to be complete or up-to-date. Immigration law is constantly changing. You should consult an Immigration & Citizenship Consultant or Attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us with your questions or to make use of our forum. Communicating with us does not create an attorney-client relationship so please do not send confidential information until an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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