How long can I stay in Canada?
Canadian citizens and Registered Indians may remain in Canada indefinitely. However, permanent residents and foreign nationals face limitations. This article is an effort to explain how long a non-citizen may stay in Canada. I have tried to be as comprehensive as possible. However, it is impossible to cover everything in one short article.
- Permanent residents
- Work permit holders
- Study permit holders
- Protected persons
- Refugee claimants
- Issues to consider
- Let us help!
How long may a permanent resident stay in Canada?
A permanent resident may remain in Canada indefinitely by default. However, some situations could shorten their duration of stay:
- They must remain in Canada for at least 40% of the time. More specifically, they must spend at least 730 days out of each five-year duration in Canada. However, some exceptions apply. If a PR does not meet the residency obligation, they could face a removal order.
- Permanent residents could become inadmissible to Canada in certain situations. Here are some examples:
- Security grounds (e.g., espionage or terrorism)
- Human rights violations
- Serious criminality
- Organized criminality (e.g., being a member of a criminal gang)
- Non-compliance with the Immigration Act (e.g., not meeting the residency obligation)
An inadmissible permanent resident could receive an enforceable removal order. Consequently, they may not stay in Canada.
How long may a work permit holder remain in Canada?
The rule of thumb says a work permit holder may remain in Canada up to the expiry date of their permit. However, they could also lose this privilege due to the following issues.
- An immigration officer revokes the work permit because of a Ministerial Instruction under a public policy, namely:
- ESDC has revoked the LMIA associated with the work permit
- The officer believes hiring an IMP work permit holder has significant adverse effects on the labour market
- The employer has submitted misleading, false, or inaccurate information
- ESDC has added the employer to the list of ineligible employers
- The work permit is because of a family member, but the authorities have revoked the work permit of that family member (except for IMP-C41)
- The foreign worker is facing an enforceable removal order
Of course, if you are approaching the expiry date of your work permit, you could apply for a renewal. While waiting for the decision, you may remain and work in Canada. Nonetheless, please read my article on this subject for more information:
As a worker, you have alternative options to stay in Canada:
- Apply for a visitor record
- Apply for a study permit
- Become a permanent resident of Canada
Of course, you must meet the requirements of each type of application. Moreover, the submission time for each application is essential.
How long may a study permit holder stay in Canada?
You may not remain in Canada if you lose your study permit. Regrettably, any of the following incidents makes your study permit void:
- The expiration date of the study permit
- Ninety days have passed since you completed your studies
- You receive an enforceable removal order
Let’s say your study permit expires on August 15th. However, you finish your studies on April 1st. Then you lose your study permit 90 days after April 1st because it occurs before the expiry date of your study permit. Alternatively, if you finish your studies on August 1st, you lose your study permit on August 15th because the expiry date reaches sooner.
A study permit holder may extend their stay via specific activities. For example,
- Applying for a new study permit
- Submitting a work permit application
- Applying for a visitor record
- Becoming a permanent resident of Canada
Of course, the devil is in the details. For example, you must submit the temporary resident applications before the expiry of the study permit. Otherwise, you have to apply for a restoration of the status or a TRP.
How long may a visitor remain in Canada?
A typical visitor may stay in Canada for up to six months. However, exceptions apply:
- Super Visa holders may usually stay in Canada for up to two years.
- The Border Services Officer may add a specific expiry date for your visit in your passport. Of course, this date could deviate significantly from the typical six-month stay.
- If you receive a visitor record, you must comply with the expiry date on the document.
- An enforceable removal order nullifies the expiration date of your stay. Consequently, you must leave Canada.
You could extend your stay via certain activities. Here are some examples:
- Submitting a visitor record application before the expiry of your current stay
- Applying for a work permit or a study permit if you qualify
- Becoming a permanent resident of Canada
I don’t go into the details of each of these possibilities. However, you may book an appointment with me to explore your options.
How long may a protected person remain in Canada?
Unless they receive an enforceable removal order, protected persons may stay in Canada indefinitely. Nonetheless, if they need to travel outside Canada, they usually must apply for a refugee travel document. Moreover, most protected people may apply for a PR status and eventually citizenship.
How long may a refugee claimant stay in Canada?
Refugee claimants may remain in Canada until they receive an enforceable removal order. However, they could become protected if the authorities approve their claim. They also lose the privilege of staying in Canada should they leave the country prematurely. Unfortunately, a change of status is not an option for a refugee claimant as they do not hold legal status in Canada. However, the following exceptions could apply:
- Submitting an inland spousal application
- Exceptional public policies that could grant them amnesty
Canada hardly ever offers amnesty to refugee claimants.
Other issues to consider
If you do not have legal status in Canada, you must leave Canada immediately. For example, overstaying in Canada falls under this recommendation. If you do not comply, you could face a removal order and even detention under the Immigration Act.
Removal orders are nerve-wracking, but sometimes you could fight them and remain in Canada. Here are some examples:
- Filing for Judicial Review through the Federal Court with the help of an immigration lawyer
- Submitting a PRRA application
- Public policies because of the circumstances in a specific country or under the humanitarian and compassionate considerations
- Receiving approval for the first stage of an H&C PR application
A TRP application does not put a removal order on hold. However, if they approve the application, you may legally stay in Canada. Moreover, sometimes CBSA cannot remove a person from Canada (e.g., lack of identity documents). In these situations, the person may remain in Canada without legal status.
Let us help!
If you face an immigration issue or want to stay in Canada, fill out the following form. Alternatively, please book an appointment with me. Of course, you may fill out our assessment form to explore your options.
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Would you please fill out our free assessment form if you wish to visit or move to Canada? We will review it for free, but we will contact you only if we find an opportunity for you. Alternatively, you may book a consultation session. Consultation sessions are not free, but you will receive formal immigration advice from a licensed practitioner.
Al Parsai, LLM, MA, DTM, RCIC
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Adjunct Professor – Queen’s University – Faculty of Law
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada
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This article provides information of a general nature only. Considering the fluid nature of the immigration world, it may no longer be current. Of course, the item does not give legal advice. Therefore, do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. Consequently, no one could hold us accountable for the content of these articles. Of course, if you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. Alternatively, if you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment.
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