Will Your Visit Become More Permanent

As with many previous Novembers, we will soon see an influx of new faces into Fernie. Some of the new faces will be from other locales within Canada, but many will come from outside the country. As a lawyer in Fernie, I get inquiries often about whether I can help non-Canadian citizens stay in Canada legally. Unfortunately, Canadian immigration law is not something I know very much about… until I decided to write about this subject for the Fernie Fix that is! Even after writing this article, I am by no means any kind of expert on the subject, so what follows is some very basic information for newcomers to our country.

If you are in Fernie for a short time, you probably already know that a temporary resident in Canada is someone who is not a Canadian citizen but is legally allowed in Canada for a temporary purpose. Temporary residents include international students, foreign workers and tourists. To be eligible for a temporary resident visa a person must have a valid passport and at least one additional identity document, be in good health, provide proof that they have sufficient funds to support their stay in Canada and demonstrate that their stay in Canada is temporary. If you have been convicted of a criminal offence, you may not be allowed to enter Canada. For the temporary resident visa, there is a processing fee of $75 for single entry visa applications and $150 for multiple entry visa applications. There is a maximum processing fee of $400 per family for either single or multiple entry visa applications when all family members apply at the same time. Applications for temporary resident visas must be sent at least one month before you plan to leave for your visit to Canada.

If you have been permitted into Canada as a visitor only, you are not allowed to work or study in Canada without proper authorization.

Perhaps April rolls around and you decide that you don’t want to leave beautiful Fernie? Since the maximum period for a temporary resident visa is six months, you may re-apply for a new temporary resident visa within Canada. You can make this application within Canada if: you are a legally admitted student or temporary foreign worker (i.e. not here on a tourist visa), in Canada with a Canadian residential address, your current temporary resident status is still valid or your existing visa is expired or was valid for only one entry, and you need a new temporary resident visa to return to Canada in the near future. Individuals who are already legally in Canada as temporary residents and who wish to extend their stay in Canada, or change the conditions of their stay, should contact Citizen and Immigration Canada (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/extend-stay.asp) for specific application requirements.

If you want to stay more permanently, you will have to immigrate to Canada. To immigrate to Canada and become a permanent resident, you will need to apply for and be issued a Permanent Resident Visa, which is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a “Green Card” (the term “Green Card” refer to U.S. immigration status). The Canadian immigration process can be complex and you would be well advised to retain a lawyer who specializes in this area of law to assist you in completing your application. However, some factors that would improve your chances are: you have a job in Canada and you have valuable work experience in your native country (but proving work experience to the satisfaction of a Canadian Immigration Visa Officer can be challenging). Some Canadian immigration applicants may have to take the International English Language Test to determine if they have sufficient English language ability for the Canadian society or workforce.

As mentioned at the outset, this article is extremely basic information about what you might face visiting and staying in Canada and is not meant to be a complete guide to the process. However, best of luck with your stay and enjoy the winter!