Coming to Canada: Temporarily, or Permanently

By Eman Galang


Coming to Canada entails answering the question “do you want to come to Canada temporarily, or you want to stay in Canada on a permanent basis”.

Persons who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada may require a visa to enter Canada. The visa may be a temporary resident visa, or a permanent resident visa.

Temporary Resident Visa

A Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) is an official document issued by a Canadian visa office that is placed in your passport to show that you have met the requirements for admission to Canada as a temporary resident. 

When you enter Canada as temporary resident, you are given a temporary resident status for a limited period of time allowing you to remain in Canada during the period authorized for your stay.

Temporary residents are classified as; 

  • Visitor;
  • Student; or
  • Worker

In order to obtain a TRV (whether as a visitor, student, or worker), you must show the officer that you meet the requirements of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations and that you will be in Canada for a temporary stay.

You must also: 

  • satisfy an officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your stay,
  • show that you have enough money to maintain yourself and your family members in Canada and to return home,
  • not intend to work or study in Canada unless authorized to do so,
  • be law abiding and have no record of criminal activity,
  • not be a risk to the security of Canada,
  • provide any additional document requested by the officer to establish your admissibility, and
  • be in good health (complete a medical examination if required).

In reaching a decision whether the applicant is a genuine TRV applicant, the visa officer considers several factors, which include: 

  • the applicant’s travel and identity documents;
  • the reason for travel to Canada and the applicant’s contacts there;
  • the applicant’s financial means for the trip;
  • the applicant’s ties to his or her country of residence, including immigration status, employment and family ties;
  • whether the applicant would be likely to leave Canada at the end of the authorized stay;
  • the applicant’s health condition.

Officers make decisions on a case-by-case basis. The onus is on applicants to show that their intentions are genuine.

If you are granted a visitor TRV – you should not work or study in Canada and you must not remain in Canada longer than the period authorized for your stay.

If you are a granted a student TRV (or study permit) – you should not work in Canada (unless given a work TRV) and you should not change the type of your studies, educational institution, location of studies, or times and periods of studies without applying to change these conditions on your study permit if they were specified on your study permit.  Also, you must not remain in Canada longer than the period authorized for your stay.

If you are granted a work TRV (or work permit) – you should not study in Canada (unless given a study TRV) and you should not change employers, type of work, or location of work without applying to change these conditions if they were specified on your work permit. Also, you must not remain in Canada longer than the period authorized for your stay.

You may have your period of authorized stay in Canada extended, or your conditions of entry changed.

For example, if you have come to visit family and wish to stay longer for a special reason, such as a wedding, you may be allowed to extend your stay. This is possible only if you apply before the end of your authorized stay. To obtain a visitor TRV extension, you will need to apply at least 30 days before the expiry of your authorized stay.

Normally, you are not allowed to change your status once you are in Canada. For example, a tourist cannot accept a job or become a student. Check the conditions on your work or study permit (if you obtained one). If you wish to change the conditions (for example, if you want to change employers), you must apply for a new work or study TRV.

In essence, a TRV allows you to temporarily stay or reside in Canada during a specific period of time only and you must follow the conditions of your stay. Conditions may be specified on your visitor record or your study or work permit.

In some cases, after some period of being a work TRV or study TRV holder, you may qualify to apply for a permanent resident visa (see discussions below on Canadian Experience Class, and Live In Caregiver Class).


Permanent Resident Visa

A permanent resident is someone who has acquired permanent resident status by immigrating to Canada, but is not yet a Canadian citizen. Permanent residents have rights and privileges in Canada even though they remain citizens of their home country. In order to maintain permanent resident status, they must fulfill specified residency obligations.

A person in Canada temporarily, such as visitor, international student (study TRV holder), or a temporary foreign worker (work TRV holder), as explained above is not a permanent resident.

As a permanent resident, you and your dependants have the right:

  • To receive most social benefits that Canadian citizens receive, including health care coverage.
  • To live, work or study anywhere in Canada (without any conditions given to TRV holder)
  • To apply for Canadian citizenship
  • To protection under Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

As a permanent resident, you must pay taxes, and respect all Canadian laws at the federal, provincial and municipal levels.

Your permanent resident status allows you to live in Canada, but there is also a time limit on how long you can live outside the country. To keep your status as a permanent resident, you must live in Canada for at least two years within a five-year period.

When you become a Canadian citizen, you are no longer a permanent resident.

There are different ways of applying for permanent residence, some examples are;

1. Federal Skilled Worker Class – Applications for Permanent Residence under the Federal Skilled Worker Class can be submitted by foreign nationals who are skilled workers and professionals.  Canada encourages skilled worker applications for Permanent Residence from people with skills, education and work experience that will contribute to the Canadian economy.  This type of application is further divided into three categories;

Category 1 – You can apply for FSW Category 1 if you have at least 1 year of continuous full time or equivalent paid work experience in the last ten years in at least one of the occupational categories identified in the Ministerial Instructions called the eligible occupations.

Category 2 – You can apply for FSW Category 2 if you have an offer of arranged employment in Canada. The employment offer should be in writing, indeterminate in duration, and meet the arranged employment factor described in this guide.

Category 3 – You can apply for FSW Category 3 if you are an international student currently enrolled in a doctoral (PhD) program, delivered by a recognized post-secondary educational institution located in Canada, or you have completed a PhD program from a recognized post-secondary educational institution located in Canada no more than 12 months before your application is received by the Government of Canada.

A grant of FSW PRV does not mean that you will have a ready job once you come to Canada, it only means that you can stay permanently in Canada to live, work or study anywhere in Canada (without any conditions given to TRV holder).

2. Business Class – Canada welcomes successful business people who are seeking new opportunities and challenges. The Business Immigration Program is designed to encourage and facilitate the admission of these individuals to become permanent residents of Canada. Both the federal and provincial/territorial governments welcome business immigrants and offer services to help immigrants start a business and settle in Canada.

3. Provincial Nominees – The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) allows provincial governments to choose immigrants according to the economic needs of the province. Each province establishes its own standards and processes by which it chooses its nominees and tries to nominate those candidates who would be most likely to settle effectively into the economic and social life of the region.  Before you can apply to immigrate to Canada as a provincial nominee, you must first be nominated by a province or territory. Each province or territory has its own application and nomination procedures. However, the federal government of Canada (ie., Citizenship and Immigration Canada or CIC) retains the authority to make the final decision on an application for permanent residence using existing selection and admissibility criteria, including security, criminal, and medical components for candidates who hold Provincial Nominee Certificates.

4. Family Class (parents, grandparents, adopted children and other family members) – The Canadian government allows citizens and permanent residents of Canada to sponsor members of the family class, but it requires that arriving immigrants receive care and support from their sponsors.  Members of the family class include a sponsor’s spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner; a dependent child of the sponsor; the sponsor’s mother or father; a person the sponsor intends to adopt; and other relatives of the sponsor as defined by regulation.

This application is for persons who wish to be re-united with close family members in Canada. In order to use this application package, you must, with respect to the sponsor, be

  • his or her father or mother,
  • his or her grandfather or grandmother,
  • a child he or she adopted outside Canada or intends to adopt in Canada,
  • his or her brother, sister, nephew, niece, grandson or granddaughter, and be an orphan, under the age of 18 and not a spouse or common-law partner,
  • his or her relative, regardless of your age, if the sponsor does not have a spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, grandfather, grandmother, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece, who is a Canadian citizen, Indian or permanent resident or whose application for permanent residence in Canada he or she could sponsor.

5. Family class (spouses, partners and dependent children) – The Canadian government knows it is important to help families who come from other countries to reunite in Canada. If your spouse, partner, or parent is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, he or she may sponsor you as his or her spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, dependent child (including adopted child) so you can become a permanent resident.

If you are being sponsored as a member of the family class, your spouse or common-law partner (except where your spouse or common-law partner is the sponsor) must be included in your application as a family member. You must also include all your dependent children from your current and previous relationships, whether they will be going with you to Canada (accompanying family members) or not (non-accompanying family members).

All your family members, whether accompanying you or not, must be declared on your application and be examined. If family members are not examined, it is generally not possible to sponsor them at a later date. This includes children in the custody of a former spouse or common-law partner.

In addition, failure to declare family members on your application and have them examined goes against your duty to provide truthful and accurate information, and may cause you to be found inadmissible to Canada.

6. Convention Refugees Abroad and Humanitarian Protected Persons Abroad – Canada’s humanitarian tradition of offering protection to displaced and persecuted people is known around the world. Each year, Canadians assist refugees and other persecuted people to rebuild their lives in Canada. In order to be eligible for resettlement from abroad as a refugee, you must be a member of one of the following classes: 

  • Convention Refugees Abroad (The word “Convention” refers to the United Nations convention relating to the Status of Refugees); or 
  • Humanitarian-Protected Persons Abroad (Country of Asylum Class) – The Country of Asylum Class is Canada’s response to the resettlement needs of people in refugee like situations who do not qualify as Convention Refugees.

In addition, you must demonstrate an ability to re-establish your life in Canada and pass medical, security and criminality assessments.

7. Canadian Experience Class – Temporary Foreign Workers (work TRV holder) and Students who graduated with a Canadian educational credential (study TRV holder), often have the qualities to make a successful transition from temporary to permanent resident status in Canada. They are familiar with Canadian society and can contribute to the Canadian economy. If you are a Temporary Foreign Worker or a foreign graduate working in Canada, you may apply for permanent residence by using this application package. You should have knowledge of English or French and qualifying work experience.

Applications for Permanent Residence under the Canadian Experience Class can be submitted by: 

  • Temporary foreign workers; or
  • Foreign graduates with a Canadian educational credential.

In addition, applicants must have Canadian work experience in a managerial, professional, skilled trade or technical occupation.

8. Live-in Caregiver Class – A live-in caregiver is a person who was given a work TRV (specifically, live in caregiver work permit) to work as a live-in caregiver for children, seniors or the disabled to an employer in Canada. To apply for permanent residence under this class, you must have completed a certain length of authorized full-time live in caregiver work within 4 years from the date you entered Canada. 

You may apply for this type of application for permanent residence if; 

  • You have completed 24 months OR 3,900 hours (within a minimum of 22 months which may include a maximum of 390 hours of overtime) of authorized full-time employment as a live-in caregiver within four years from the date of your entry in Canada under the Live-in Caregiver Program; and
  • You lived in your employer’s home or the home of the person(s) receiving care in Canada while being employed as a live-in caregiver.

In sum, becoming a PR gives you the benefits of receiving most social benefits that Canadian citizens receive, including health care coverage, education, etc and to live permanently in Canada, work or study anywhere in Canada (without any conditions given to a TRV holder).


[Copyright notice: Substantially all information from this article was reproduced from the website of Citizenship and Immigration Canada for the purpose of providing compiled and brief information about Canadian temporary, and permanent resident visas.  The reproduction has not been produced in affiliation with, or with the endorsement of the Government of Canada. Any information on this article has been posted with the intent that it be readily available for personal or public non-commercial use and may be reproduced, in part or in whole, and by any means, without charge or further permission, unless otherwise specified by Citizenship and Immigration Canada No representation is being made that Citizenship and Immigration Canada is responsible for the accuracy, reliability or currency of the information provided in this article. While due diligence was exercised to ensure the accuracy of the materials reproduced, users wishing to rely upon this information should consult directly with the source of the information; for more and complete information, visit]

About the Author: Eman is a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the International Bar Association. Among others, he practices in the fields of corporate, criminal defense, and immigration, and serves as Associate of ICAN (a member of Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council).

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