Every year, hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals are admitted to Canada as “temporary residents.” These may be tourists who are visiting under a visitor visa or an electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) if they are from a visa-exempt country. They may be students or workers in Canada temporarily. While many applicants are most concerned about the eligibility requirements to obtain such temporary visas to enter Canada, it is extremely important for temporary residents to understand the legal nature of their stay in Canada in order to maintain their status and ensure that they do not become inadmissible to Canada by breaching any conditions on their type of visa.
Having legal status means you are authorized to enter and remain in Canada as a temporary or permanent resident under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, as a Canadian citizen under the Citizenship Act or as a Registered Indian under the Indian Act. In the case of temporary residents, your status is valid for a specific period of time that is set out in your visa, study or work permit.
Apply for an extension before you lose your status:
Each type of temporary visa has a different duration. For example a study permit may be for the duration of your studies in Canada. A work permit may be for the duration of the employment contract you have with your employer in Canada. In the case of visitors, you are generally permitted to stay in Canada for up to 6 months from the date of your entry (unless the officer indicates at the time of your entry that you are permitted to remain in Canada for a shorter period of time).
Irrespective of the type of temporary status you hold, you should be careful of the duration and ensure that you take appropriate steps to extend you status before your status expires. For example, if your studies are taking longer than your original study permit, you can apply to extend your study permit. In the case of visitors, you will need to leave Canada before 6 months or, if there is a reason why you need to remain in Canada, it is possible to apply for an extension of your status before the 6 months is up.
What if you miss the deadline to extend your status?
In some situations you may not be able to apply to extend your visa or apply for a new visa in time. Depending on your circumstances this may create serious problems with regards to your ability to extend your study permit or work permit and may even impact your eligibility for future visas. However, if you have missed your deadline to apply for a renewal by only a few days, there is a window of opportunity to be able to apply to restore your status for up to 90 days from the date of expiration of your visa or permit.
A restoration application is very important as you must explain the circumstances that prevented you from complying with the conditions of your permit and you must meet all the conditions of your initial visa or permit. Applications are processed on a case-by-case basis and the 90 day deadline is very rigid. If you have missed your deadline you should immediately consult an experienced immigration lawyer to understand your options.
Application to Return to Canada (ARC):
In some cases, where a temporary resident has overstayed his or her authorized period to remain in Canada or did not comply with the conditions of his or her stay, the resident may be issued with a removal order. If you are issued with a removal order (which may be a departure order, deportation order, or exclusion order) then you may no longer stay in Canada and it may also result in you becoming inadmissible for re-entry to Canada.
Depending on the reason you receive on the removal order you may be able to appeal the decision. However, once a removal order is final, in most cases you will need a special permission called an Authorization to Return to Canada (“ARC”) before you will be allowed re-entry.
ARC applications require you to demonstrate that there is a low possibility you will repeat the behaviour which caused the order to be issued in the first place and your current situation as well as the reason you have for returning to Canada. The officer will also consider the reasons for which the removal order was issued and the amount of time that has passed since the order’s issuance. There is no guarantee that an ARC will be issued and by having the assistance of an experienced immigration lawyer you will be able to navigate the process and ensure that you submit the best application possible and have the highest chance of success.
Zeynab Ziaie is a graduate of the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto and a lawyer licensed to practice in Ontario and New York. Her legal practice focuses on immigration and business law. She often works with clients to find suitable solutions in complex immigration and citizenship cases and represents clients at all levels of court.