I am an Indian citizen studying in US on F1 Visa. I have a 6-7 hour layover in Toronto International Airport on my flight from Chicago -> Tornoto -> Zurich -> Mumbai. I am wondering if it's possible for me to outside the airport and get some food and roam around a little bit before catching my flight? Is this allowed on a transit visa? Will there be any issue during Immigration check?
Apparently, you can leave the airport with a transit visa, according to a forum entry at trip advisor from June 2016 (the entry is #55):
Can I go outside the airport with a transit visa: Yes, you can go outside the airport (it is the VH-1 visa and it is valid for 48hs and it is free. I did, Madrid-Toronto- Buenos Aires with a stop over of 10hs in Pearson International, I was able to go through custom and get out without any problem with an Argentinean passport (the same for all my family).
This is also confirmed by others in the same thread (though I do not know whether they are just repeating the information in the above post or have their own experience).
Some tinkering here reveals that a transit visa will suffice if you are transit within 48 hours by air, but you need a full visitor visa if you are transiting by land. That implies to me that the transit visa doesn't permit you to leave the airport.
I have transferred in Toronto when I was on my F1 visa. The reason that I exited the border control was because the gate that I got off required me to get out of the custom and then go back in again.
So when you try to exit the border control, the officer will ask you. I simply replied "I'm just trying to get to this gate to catch my flight which is taking off in 1 hour." so I think without a Canadian visa, you can get pass the officer and get a stamp saying that you entered Canada on your passport. But your reason needs to be valid. But I'm not sure how the officer determines whether you pass through him or not. (I don't think it hurts to try. If the officer says "just stay in the airport." Then you will know.)