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How to extend your stay as a visitor in Canada

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With border closures, travel bans, and restrictions still in place, if you are in Canada as a visitor, you may be looking to extend your stay.

In general, visitor visas allow foreigners to live legally in Canada for up to six months. At the end of this period, the visitor’s legal status expires and they must leave Canada.

If this is the case for you, you may be considering extending your stay in Canada beyond the specified period.

To do so, you will need to submit an application to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) while your visitor visa, also called a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), is still valid. The TRV is an official document issued by a Canadian visa office and inserted in the foreign national’s passport. This document certifies that you have met the conditions for entry to Canada as a temporary resident.

To extend your stay in Canada as a visitor, you must apply for a visitor record. This document will have an expiry date, upon which you must leave the country or apply for another extension to remain in Canada legally. It is important to note that a visitor record does not guarantee you will be able to re-enter Canada if you decide to leave the country.

If your current visitor visa expires while your application for an extension is being processed, you can stay in Canada until a decision is made. This is known as “maintained status,” which was previously known as “implied status.”

During this period, the conditions of your visitor status are extended beyond the expiry date and you will simply be allowed to stay in Canada as a visitor.

If, however, your visitor status has already expired, you may be able to restore your status if you continue to meet initial requirements and conditions.

Get help with your visitor visa extension

How long can you stay in Canada?

Unless they are citizens of a visa-exempt country, individuals who wish to enter Canada for a temporary purpose, such as tourists, temporary foreign workers, and international students must apply for and be granted a TRV. Most visitors can stay in Canada for up to six months.

Those who receive a stamp in their passport when they enter Canada must leave the country by the date indicated on the stamp. Those issued a visitor record must leave Canada before the expiry date indicated on the visitor record.

In the event that the passport has not been stamped, foreign nationals can only remain in Canada for a period of six months from the date of their initial entry into the country or before the expiry of their passport, whichever happens first.

It is possible to apply for a visitor’s visa despite existing travel restrictions, but only individuals exempt from these restrictions are allowed to enter Canada at this time.

A temporary policy allows visitors to apply for work permits

On August 24, 2020, IRCC introduced a special measure allowing foreign nationals who are in Canada on visitor status with a  valid job offer to apply for an employer-specific work permit. Before, visitors would usually need to apply for their initial work permits before coming to Canada. If they were already in the country on visitor status when they were approved for the work permit, they would need to leave Canada and return in order to activate it.

Applicant looking to benefit from this temporary measure must:

  • have valid status in Canada as a visitor on the day they apply;
  • have remained in Canada with valid status;
  • have a valid job offer;
  • submit an in-Canada application for an employer-specific work permit that is supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or an LMIA-exempt offer of employment, no later than August 31, 2021; and
  • meet all other standard admissibility criteria, such as medical and criminal checks, among others.

The temporary policy was first introduced to allow visitors who arrived in Canada during the time when coronavirus-related travel restrictions were introduced and has since been extended until August 31, 2021.

Get help with your Canadian work permit application

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