CHANGE YOUR IMMIGRATION STATUS WHILE LIVING IN CANADA
Updated: May 4
At Calver & Associates, we often receive inquiries from people wanting to know:
Can I switch a Visitor Visa to a Work Permit?
Can I change a Study Permit to a Work Permit?
Can I switch a Visitor Visa to a Study Permit?
Can I switch from full-time student to full-time worker?
In essence, all of these inquiries are really asking: How can I change my status in Canada? In short, it is possible to change your visa status while you are in Canada, but there is no guarantee of success. Read below for possible options and alternative solutions to changing your status while in Canada.
If you are living in Canada on a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), you may choose to apply for a work permit. This is important for those who wish to stay in Canada for a longer period of time and earn experience and money to cover living expenses. If you have a TRV, you can first apply to extend your stay. You may then begin the process of applying for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The LMIA proves that there is a need for a foreign worker to fill a job in Canada by demonstrating that no Canadian workers are available to do the job.
It is important to note, however, that the time it takes to obtain a work permit may exceed an individual’s permitted time to stay in Canada as a visitor. If this occurs, the individual must leave Canada while they wait for their work permit to be approved and for their status to be changed. As such, individuals who opt for this must be prepared to leave Canada if they are required to.
There are very few cases where an individual can apply for their immigration status to be changed from Visitor to Permanent Resident. An exception may be made for someone who has refugee status, for example. The process of applying for Permanent Residency is lengthy; the application processing time alone can take between six and 12 months. That doesn’t take into account the time required to collect supporting documents and materials, or complete forms and applications. Therefore, visitors should not come to Canada with the expectation that they can apply for and be granted permanent resident status during their stay.
There is, however, the option for an individual who arrives in Canada as a worker to apply for Permanent Residence through the Canadian Experience Class. One of the requirements for this is work in a skilled position for 12 months of more. IRCC may choose to grant a work permit extension to allow individuals to remain in Canada while their application is being processed for a Canadian Experience Class residence application.
Qualified graduate students who are studying in Canada on a Study Permit may receive work permits to work while they attend school and for a period of up to three years after they graduate. Those who wish to stay in Canada after their graduation can apply for a Post-Graduate Work Permit.
In sum, it is possible to change your visa status while you are in Canada, but there is no guarantee of success. As such, applicants should always be prepared to leave Canada in the case that their application does not finish processing before their visitor visa, TRV, or work permit expires. Further, be sure to check the expiry date of your documents to ensure that you allow yourself enough time to complete your next set of applications.
Calver and Associates is a leading provider of Canadian Immigration services in Durham Region. We serve clients in Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, and beyond. Our Registered Canadian Immigration Consultant has over 10 years of experience in Canadian Immigration law and over four years of experience serving those in the Oshawa area.
We can provide assistance with applications for both temporary and permanent residency in Canada. We handle applications for study permits, permanent residency, family class sponsorship, visitor visas, work permits, and Canadian citizenship. We also handle criminal inadmissibility cases by developing remedies for refusal.