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I am an Indian citizen studying in America with an F1-visa, and I have a flight that departs from Toronto. I want to drive to the Toronto airport in Canada from New York (NYC), and I will not be visiting anyone. The Canadian visa webpage mentioned that I will require a transit visa because I will be in the country for less than 48 hours.

  1. In addition to using the transit visa at the airport, I wanted to know if the transit visa is valid for an Indian citizen driving into the country from America?

  2. How long does it usually take to obtain a transit visa?

EDIT

  1. I plan to fly back into Canada, and drive back into America through Canada. Will I need a transit visa on my way back from Canada? I think I will need one in Canada since I should be okay with my F1-visa while encountering the American immigration officials at the American-Canadian border.

Thanks!

  • I presume your flight is to a destination outside Canada. Why would you need a transit visa at the airport? You will only need it at the border when you enter by car. I do not know how long the application will require, but if you are returning to the US in F1 status, it seems like it ought to be fairly routine. – phoog Dec 28 '15 at 0:54
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    @phoog Canada, like the US, does not have sterile transit areas at its airports. So he would need a transit visa even if flying from the US via Canada. – Michael Hampton Dec 28 '15 at 2:34
  • @MichaelHampton, sure, but he's planning to drive into Canada, not fly there. – phoog Dec 28 '15 at 2:35
  • @phoog Yes, I plan on going to Cuba for my spring break. Since there are no flights directly going to Havana from any city in America, I am planning on flying through Cuba. I live in Pennsylvania, and I will most probably be in NYC for a few days before I rent a car and drive up north to Toronto. – Eagle Dec 28 '15 at 3:56
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    You can easily fly to Miami and then connect to a direct flight to Havana. The problem is that currently you can't book them together; they must be booked separately. The agency or airline you book your MIA-HAV tickets through will arrange your tourist card. – Michael Hampton Dec 28 '15 at 11:39
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Transit visas are for entering the country on the way to some other country. I've never heard of one that was specific as to mode of travel. You could drive, bicycle, or even ride a horse if you were granted enough time to do so. I'd be more worried about what you will do with the car you're driving.

Currently the processing time for Canada visa applications made in the US is listed as 12 days. Canada now updates this information weekly. (At the original time of this post, the processing time was listed as 52 days and listed by visa office.)

You should apply for your visa as soon as possible, or schedule a flight which does not start in or transit Canada.

  • Perhaps OP is planning to park in long-term parking and retrieve the car on the way home. – phoog Dec 28 '15 at 3:14
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    @phoog It's uncommon for people in NYC to own cars, so I suspect it's a rental. Personally I would not leave a rental in long-term parking for days, and renting a car in one country and returning it in another is difficult at best. And since it's easy to find flights from NYC to India, I suspect something else is going on here that we don't know about and possibly that an immigration officer might not like if he knew about it. – Michael Hampton Dec 28 '15 at 3:36
  • There are 1.8 million "standard" vehicle registrations in New York city alone, never mind that the OP could also live in the suburbs. It's very common not to own a car in New York City, but it's also not unusual to own one. On the other hand, it's also odd to drive 12 hours to catch a plane. I didn't register that this was NY City until your last comment. – phoog Dec 28 '15 at 3:46
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    @phoog Oh, certainly it's possible, but it doesn't strike me as likely that a foreign student in NYC would bother to buy a car. Public transit is plenty good enough, and parking can cost more than the car payment! – Michael Hampton Dec 28 '15 at 3:49
  • It really depends on where he lives and perhaps goes to school. There are parts of the outer boroughs where life without a car is very inconvenient, and where parking can be done for free on the street or in the house's driveway. – phoog Dec 28 '15 at 3:53
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The transit visa allows you to transit through the country; it does not have any other restrictions. Some countries (for example, Saudi Arabia) have restrictions on their visas that dictate the method of entry to the country - but Canada does not have such conditions.

Therefore, the visa to transit is as valid for you to enter Canada as it is for you to transit through the airport - as long as the intention of your visit is to transit.

Keep in mind that the decision to let you enter is at the discretion of the CBSA officers at the border. You'll have to convince them of the nature and purpose of your trip. I only mention this because it is highly unusual for someone to cross the land border with a transit visa - but there is nothing wrong (legally) with doing so; but as it is unusual it may warrant further checks/inspections/questions/delays at the border; so be prepared for that.

Assuming you are able to get the visa in time; its a nice 10+ hour drive (given traffic and congestion at the border). Its approximately 500 miles.

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