Canadian Immigration Status during COVID-19 pandemic

Canadian Immigration Status during COVID-19 pandemic

Canadian Immigration Status during COVID-19 pandemic

Information regarding the status of flights, border closures and visas is changing by the hour during this pandemic. When it comes to immigration status, there are a few key things to be done to ensure that you are able to remain in Canada.

If you have temporary resident status as a visitor

If you are already in Canada with visitor status that is set to expire (either because you’re nearing the end of a six month stay or you’re approaching the date stamped in your passport or indicated on a Visitor Record issued to you), you can remain in the country by applying online for an extension of your visitor status. As these applications typically take around 90 days to be processed, this will likely provide visitors with a window within which to wait out the various risks associated with travelling that they would face if they had to leave when their status expires. Applicants with pending applications to extend are considered to be on “implied status” and may legally remain in Canada pending the decision on the application. While the Canadian government recommends applying for an extension at least 30 days before expiry of your current status, an application can be made at anytime, even the day before the expiry.  Note that, if you are outside of Canada but hold a valid visitor’s visa or electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), you may not enter Canada at this time unless you fall under this list of exemptions.

If you realize too late that your visitor status expired, you can apply online for restoration of your visitor status as long as you do so within 90 days of the expiry. The application process is very similar to the application to extend. The difference is the applicant is technically without status during the period of time pending a decision on the restoration, and foreign nationals should keep a copy of the letter confirming their restoration application was submitted in case called upon by any authority to explain their status. Online, make sure to select “Restore my status” and include as much detail as possible explaining why you need to extend your stay along with paying the restoration fee.

If it has been more than 90 days since your status expired, you may consider applying for a temporary resident permit. These are highly discretionary permits and an officer must be convinced that, despite your breach of immigration laws, you have made a case for a further temporary stay. For some who are unable to return to their home country due to increased travel restrictions and health risks, you might argue this as grounds for a temporary resident permit. There are many nuances to an application for a temporary resident permit. If considering this option, it is highly recommended you seek the advice of an experienced immigration lawyer.

These considerations apply with modifications to foreign nationals in Canada on a work or study permit. For more information, Devry Smith Frank LLP invites questions by phone call and email.

The Government of Canada has strongly advised people to apply online rather than submitting a paper application at this time due to the high volume of applications.

This blog is a high-level overview of your options if you are in Canada as a visitor or on a study or work permit and is not a replacement for tailored legal advice according to your circumstances. Each category has a long list of exceptions and requirements that must be carefully followed and not fully captured by this blog post. If you require more advice on your temporary immigration status contact immigration lawyer Maya Krishnaratne  at maya.krishnaratne@devrylaw.ca or 416-446-5841.