IRCC: It is legitimate for temporary residents to intend to apply for immigration

Julia Hornstein
Published: April 6, 2023

Dual intent is present when a foreign national has applied, or may apply, for permanent residence in Canada but has also applied to enter Canada for a temporary period of time as a visitor, student or worker.

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On April 5th, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) updated its program instructions for IRCC staff when dealing with cases of dual intent. The revision to dual intent instructions entails acknowledging that having two intents, initially for temporary residence and eventually for permanent residence, is legitimate. Having both intentions is actually complementary, not contradictory.

The legitimacy of dual intent should be used when applying subsection 22(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to the decision-making process. Subsection 22(2) states that a foreign nationals’ intention to become a permanent resident does not preclude them from becoming a temporary resident as long as the IRCC officer is satisfied that they will leave Canada at the end of their authorized stay.

The updated instructions also include a section on Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident Programs, reminding IRCC officers that Canada actively promotes these programs to foreign nationals and that Canadian work experience is fundamental to successful settlement.

Facilitative pathways that depend on attracting temporary residents that have essential skills or experience, such as the Caregiver Pilot, the Canadian Experience Class and the Agri-Food Pilot, which have been relied upon as routes to permanent residence. Other programs give extra points for applicants whose work or study experience is in Canada.

In the case of study permit applications, officers need to take into consideration that Canada actively promotes study-work permanent residence pathways to prospective students, and that these students are encouraged to indicate that they wish to immigrate to Canada permanently.

How IRCC officers assess dual intent

In order to approve a temporary resident application, the officer must be satisfied that the applicant has a genuine intention to leave Canada at the end of their period of authorized stay. In assessing this, the individual circumstances of the applicant must be examined. The officer may consider, among other factors:

The length of time that the client will be spending in Canada

  • Means of support
  • Obligations and ties to the home country
  • The purpose and the context of the stay
  • The credibility of documents and information submitted
  • Past compliance with requirements of the IRPA and the IRPR that are applicable to temporary residents (visitors, students, and workers), as well as information available in biographic and biometric information sharing

The instructions state that the assessment of an application where an applicant has dual intent should be the same as the assessment of any other temporary residence application. Each applicant should receive the benefit of a procedurally fair and individual assessment based on the entire context of the application.

The applicant also has the right to a fair and impartial decision maker. The courts have indicated that the officer must avoid the possibility or perception of bias. Examples of bias would include that an applicant with an open or prospective permanent residence application will automatically have a desire to stay in Canada beyond their authorized stay.

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