The difference between visa and temporary status in Canada

One of the confusing issues for Canadian visitors is the difference between visa and temporary status. Of course, understanding a temporary resident visa is not difficult. You ask IRCC to allow you to travel to Canada, and they may issue you a visa. However, what happens when you enter Canada? Let’s discuss these two concepts in more detail.

Permanent status, temporary status, no status

Before discussing visa versus temporary status, let’s explore the concept of status in Canada. Of course, I’m looking at this concept from the immigration lens.

Permanent status

The following people have permanent status in Canada:

Temporary status

The following people have legal temporary resident status in Canada. Nonetheless, make sure to review the terms and conditions.

  • Work permit holders: If you have a valid work permit, you have temporary status in Canada. However, a work permit with the “does not confer temporary status” message means you have no status. Also, you could lose your temporary status if you receive an enforceable removal order. Lastly, some people, such as refugee claimants, who hold work permits, do not have temporary status in Canada.
  • Study permit holders: You have temporary status unless one of the following happens: (1) The study permit expires; (2) It has been more than 90 days since you finished your studies in Canada; (3) Immigration authorities have issued an enforceable removal order against you; (4) Your permit includes a message that loosely says “does not confer temporary status.”
  • Visitor Record holders: Of course, the Visitor Record must be valid. Also, an enforceable removal order cancels the validity of the Visitor Record.
  • Implicit Visitor Record holders: Sometimes, officers allow you to enter Canada without issuing a Visitor Record. Consequently, you may remain in Canada for up to six months or the date they mention on your passport. Nonetheless, an enforceable removal order cancels your temporary status in Canada.
  • Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) holders: A TRP offers you temporary status in Canada. However, you lose the TRP upon the expiry date or when you receive an enforceable removal order.
  • Protected persons: An individual who has received protection from IRB or IRCC may remain in Canada. However, they must eventually apply for permanent residence.

People who hold maintained status also have temporary status in Canada. However, the Restoration of Status applicants do not keep temporary legal status in Canada.

No status

If a person does not fall into the previous cases, they do not have legal status in Canada. Here are some examples:

  • Someone who has entered Canada irregularly (i.e., not through a port of entry)
  • Refugee claimants
  • People who have overstayed in Canada (i.e., beyond the validity of their status)
  • Persons who have received an enforceable removal order
  • Most stateless people (i.e., people who are not the citizen of any country)

Of course, this list is not inclusive.

Canadian visa (TRV)

A Canadian visa allows people to travel to Canada. We call such visas a TRV. Of course, you may receive a TRV for many purposes, such as work, study, or tourism. Moreover, a typical TRV sticker reflects the nature of your visit. Regardless, the purpose of a visa is to allow you to board an airplane and travel to Canada. It is up to a border officer to allow you to enter and remain in Canada. US citizens may travel to Canada without a TRV. Also, some other people may travel to Canada with an eTA and without a visa.

Visa versus temporary status

Reviewing the previous sections makes you realize that a visa is for travelling to Canada, and temporary status is for remaining in Canada. Therefore, we can summarize the differences between a Canadian visa and temporary status below:

  • You receive a visa before travelling to Canada. However, an officer at the port of entry grants you temporary status.
  • You may apply for an extension or change your temporary status inside Canada. Nevertheless, you must meet the requirements.
  • An application for a TRV from inside Canada is possible. However, it is not necessary for the extension of your temporary status. Therefore, even if your TRV expires, you may still extend your status without having a valid TRV. Of course, as I mentioned before, you must meet the extension’s requirements.

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    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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    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.