Status of people in Canada

Status of people in Canada

Yili, a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant, wants to explain the status of her client in Canada. However, Yili’s client finds it confusing. To better explain the status of people in Canada, Yili refers to as a great source of information about immigration in Canada.

The status of people based on the Immigration Act

IRPA, or rather the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, divides people into three major groups, namely [S2]:

These groups keep their status regardless of where they are. In other words, you could be a permanent resident of Canada whether you are inside or outside Canada. The same rule applies to citizens and foreign nationals. Consequently, you may not use these distinctions well enough to answer the central question of this article. Therefore, please keep reading.

The status of people in Canada

If you are in Canada, you may have one of the following statuses at a time. Of course, there are ways to extend, change, or lose status. This discussion is outside the scope of the current article. However, I’ll briefly explain some characteristics of each status.

Permanent status in Canada

The following table shows how a person could have permanent status in Canada. However, as you can see in the table, the possibility of losing status is not entirely out of the question.

Status TypeHow to obtain itHow to lose it
Citizen [ConstA6(1)](1) By birth; or (2) Via naturalization (grant of citizenship)(1) Renunciation by the citizen; or (2) Revocation by the government
Permanent Resident [A21(1)](1) Economic immigration; (2) Family reunification; or (3) Refugee resettlement or applications (after receiving protection)*(1) Citizenship; (2) Inadmissibility; (3) Failing residency obligations; (4) Ceasing or vacating a refugee claim; or (4) Renunciation by the PR [more]
Protected person [A21(2)](1) Refugee claims in Canada; (2) PRRA; (3) Ministerial relief(1) Permanent residency; (2) Inadmissibility under security, human rights violations, serious criminality, organized criminality, or health grounds; or (3) Cessation or vacation by the government.

*Becoming a permanent resident as a refugee is a bit complicated. You usually become a protected person first, then apply for permanent residency. Resettled refugees most likely become permanent residents upon arrival. However, refugee claimants in Canada apply while residing in Canada. For family members outside Canada, there is a “One Year Window” (OYW) to apply.

Temporary status in Canada

In this article section, I focus on temporary legal status in Canada. Nonetheless, the following section discusses unauthorized stays in our country.

Workers and students

Status TypeHow to obtain itHow to lose itRemarks
Work Permit (WP) holdersApplying for a WP upon receiving an LMIA or under IMP(1) Permanent residency; (2) Expiration date; (3) Revocation by the governmentIf the work permit includes the following phrase, the holder does not have legal status in Canada but may work: “does not confer temporary status.”
Study Permit (SP) holdersApply for an SP under regular options or SDSPermanent residency or the soonest of (1) Expiration date; (2) Ninty days have passed since the completion of the studies; or (3) an enforceable removal order. If the study permit includes the following phrase, the holder does not have legal status in Canada but may study: “does not confer temporary status.”


Status TypeHow to obtain itHow to lose itRemarks
Implicit visitor record holders(1) Permission to enter Canada by a CBSA officer; or (2) Renunciation of permanent residency while in Canada. (1) Permanent residency; (2) Getting a WP; (3) Receiving an SP; (4) Overstaying in Canada; (5) Leaving Canada; (6) Reaching the expiry date mentioned on the passport or six months stay in Canada, whichever comes first; (7) Signing the Voluntary Departure or an equivalent form; and (8) Receiving a removal order.You could extend your stay in Canada by applying for a Visitor Record.
Visitor Record (VR) holders(1) Extending the status as a visitor in Canada; or (2) Changing the status from a WP or SP holder to a visitor while in Canada.(1) Permanent residency; (2) Getting a WP; (3) Receiving an SP; (4) Overstaying in Canada; (5) Leaving Canada; (6) Expiration of the VR; (7) Signing the Voluntary Departure or an equivalent form; or (8) Receiving a removal order.You could extend your stay in Canada by applying for another Visitor Record.
Maintained statusApplying for a change or extension of status before the expiry of the current status and remaining in Canada beyond the expiry date of the original status(1) Receiving a decision; or (2) Leaving Canada. [more]You could face complications if you file two extensions or change status applications. [more]

Inadmissible people

Status TypeHow to obtain itHow to lose itRemarks
Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) holders(1) Applying for a TRP before entry; (2) Receiving a TRP at the port of entry; or (3) Applying for a TRP after entry. (1) Becoming a permanent resident as Permit Holder or another option; (2) Leaving Canada; (3) Revocation of TRP by the government; (4) Expiration of the TRP; or (5) A removal order. A TRP valid for six months or more entitles the holder to apply for an open work permit or a study permit in Canada.

Unauthorized status in Canada

Some people remain in Canada without authorization. Of course, upon a brush with the law, these people could face detention, removal from Canada, or both. Moreover, due to a lack of documentation, they are subject to all sorts of abuse by their employers, landlords, and other people. Sadly, they can’t use Universal Healthcare in Canada and must pay for medical services. Therefore, they may limit their visits to physicians and hospitals, which could endanger their lives.

Any of the following could result in an unauthorized stay in Canada:

  • Overstaying: Staying in Canada beyond the validity of a VR, an implicit VR, a WP, an SP, or a TRP nullifies your authorized stay in Canada. Sometimes you may apply for Restoration of Status to resolve this problem. Unfortunately, the application won’t restore your status before an officer decides. Furthermore, alternative options to remain in Canada exist. Unfortunately, none of them are easy to achieve.
  • Irregular entry: If you enter Canada without examination at a port of entry, you enter without legal status in Canada. While Canadian citizens and permanent residents have the right to enter Canada, they must use a port of entry. In other words, entering Canada without examination is not available to anybody.
  • Filing a refugee claim: As soon as you file a refugee claim, IRCC cancels your legal status in Canada. Moreover, they issue a removal order for you. However, the order stays unenforceable until you receive a decision on your claim. Of course, a favourable decision makes you a protected person and cancels the removal order.
  • Revocation of your status by the government: Please read the tables above for examples of how the government may revoke your legal status. Of course, I have not gone into the details.
  • Being subject to an enforceable removal order: People who have received an enforceable removal order lose their legal status. However, they sometimes could challenge the removal order.

Let us help!

If you doubt your legal status in Canada or are facing immigration issues, fill out the following form. Alternatively, you may book a consultation session with me or fill out our assessment form. If you are a licensed practitioner, please consider booking mentorship sessions with me.

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    Al ParsaiAl Parsai, LLM, MA, RCIC-IRB
    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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    Al Parsai

    This article has been expertly crafted by Al Parsai, a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University. A respected member of CICC and CAPIC organizations, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.