How long can you stay in Canada with a visitor visa, and how to extend your stay?

How long can you stay in Canada with a visa or supervisa? How to extend your stay? What are common misconceptions?

Last updated on
January 14, 2024

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A prevalent misconception often arises when individuals mistake the validity of their visa for their allowed length of stay. This guide aims to explain your length of stay in Canada with a visitor visa, common misconceptions and how to legally extend your stay.

Understanding Validity of Visitor Visa Versus Length of Entry

A Canadian visitor visa, legally called a "temporary resident visa," allows you to enter Canada. However, it does not determine the length of your stay. Upon your arrival, a border services officer at the Port of Entry (POE) – be it an airport or a border crossing – assesses and decides (1) if you can enter Canada and (2) the duration of your stay.

Do you have a right to enter Canada if you have a visitor visa?

No, you do not have the right to enter Canada. While a visitor visa allows you to seek entry to Canada, the final decision regarding your entry to Canada will take place when you enter Canada at a POE. Under section 180(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), you need to continue to meet the requirements for the issuance of a temporary resident visa every time that you seek to enter Canada. These requirements are found at section 179 of the IRPR:

  • (a) has applied in accordance with these Regulations for a temporary resident visa as a member of the visitor, worker or student class;
  • (b) will leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay under Division 2;
  • (c) holds a passport or other document that they may use to enter the country that issued it or another country;
  • (d) meets the requirements applicable to that class;
  • (e) is not inadmissible;
  • (f) meets the requirements of subsections 30(2) and (3), if they must submit to a medical examination under paragraph 16(2)(b) of the Act; and
  • (g) is not the subject of a declaration made under subsection 22.1(1) of the Act.

At every entry, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) assesses factors such as the purpose of your visit, financial stability, and connections to your home country to verify compliance with Canadian laws and immigration rules. Entry can be denied for various reasons, including insufficient funds, previous immigration non-compliance, absence of temporary intent, or evidence of intending to work or study in Canada without proper authorization, among others.

Holding a 10-year visitor visa doesn't guarantee entry into Canada for that duration. Each time you enter, the CBSA reevaluates your adherence to the stated requirements. Factors like criminal charges or convictions could render you inadmissible. Being unemployed or possessing only a one-way ticket might raise doubts about your willingness to leave Canada. Unauthorized attempts to work in Canada are grounds for entry denial.

Preparation is crucial for these interactions. Having all necessary documents and responding honestly and clearly to the officers' questions is essential for a smooth entry process.

How long can you stay in Canada with a visitor visa?

When you are allowed entry to Canada, a six-month stay is typically granted, irrespective of your visa's expiry date. The precise period of your stay begins from your date of entry, and not the visa issue date. The CBSA officer can write a shorter date. The length of stay is not linked to the expiry of your visitor visa.

Can you remain in Canada for 10 years if you were issued a 10 year visa?

No. This is a common misconception. Your visitor visa, called a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), allows you to enter Canada for 6 months, unless indicated otherwise. As noted above, you need to continue to meet all requirements for the issuance of the visitor visa at the time of entry.

This is confirmed at section 183(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations:

Authorized period of stay

(2) Subject to subsections (3) to (5), the period authorized for the stay of a temporary resident is six months or any other period that is fixed by an officer on the basis of
(a) the temporary resident’s means of support in Canada;
(b)
the period for which the temporary resident applies to stay; and
(c)
the expiry of the temporary resident’s passport or other travel document.

Entry Stamp and Its Significance

Upon processing by a border services officer, you might receive a stamp on your passport indicating your entry date, generally valid for six months from the date of entry. Increasingly, they do not stamp passports. Should there be a handwritten date below the stamp, it signifies the expiry of your authorized stay. It can be shorter than six months. It's essential to be aware that not all passports get stamped, especially when processed through an digital inspection kiosk. In such scenarios, a six-month stay from the date of entry is typically granted, unless stated otherwise.

SuperVisa

For parents and grandparents, Canada allows extended reunion opportunity through the SuperVisa, allowing a stay of up to five years, extendable for another two. Ensure your visa bears the “PG-1” coding on the counterfoil, signifying a Parent and Grandparent Supervisa, as opposed to a regular Visitor Visa coded “V-1”.

At Marin Immigration Law, we've encountered instances where individuals, unaware, had been issued a regular Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), realizing only years later that they never obtained a SuperVisa. They missed out on the extended stay benefit. This can have a significant impact on extending your stay in Canada, and immigration compliance. For example, if you stayed in Canada thinking that you were allowed to do so for five years, only to discover you were issued a V-1 visitor visa, you may need to explore a Temporary Resident Permit to extend your stay. You may also making a reconsideration request of the initial decision to only issue you a V-1 visitor visa, as opposed to a PG-1 SuperVisa.

How to extend your stay in Canada as a visitor?

If you wish to remain in Canada, you can apply for a Visitor Record. You should do so before the end of your authorized stay. For example, if you entered Canada on June 1, 2023 and your authorized stay was for 6 months (by default, unless they told you otherwise), you should apply for a visitor visa before December 1, 2023. They do not have to grant you a visitor record. They will examine if you continue to meet the conditions for the issuance of a temporary resident visa, including leaving Canada, sufficient funds, being admissible to Canada and so forth.

How to apply for a visitor record?

Under section 181 of the IRPR, you need to apply before the end of your authorized stay and have complied with all conditions imposed on your entry to Canada. You need to meet all the requirements of section 179 of the IRPR:

  • (a) has applied in accordance with these Regulations for a temporary resident visa as a member of the visitor, worker or student class;
  • (b) will leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay under Division 2;
  • (c) holds a passport or other document that they may use to enter the country that issued it or another country;
  • (d) meets the requirements applicable to that class;
  • (e) is not inadmissible;
  • (f) meets the requirements of subsections 30(2) and (3), if they must submit to a medical examination under paragraph 16(2)(b) of the Act; and
  • (g) is not the subject of a declaration made under subsection 22.1(1) of the Act.

There are numerous documents that you can provide to support your statements, and demonstrate that you meet the conditions above. This may include purchasing a ticket to leave Canada, updating your proof of funds and providing an explanation as to how you support yourself. You can learn more about a visitor record here.

Can you obtain more than one visitor record and extend your stay forever?

Legally, there's no limit on the number of visitor records one can obtain. However, repeatedly extending your stay through numerous applications may signal to immigration officers that you have no intention of leaving Canada. Essentially, if you frequently apply for visitor records, an officer will review your cumulative stays and overall circumstances. This scrutiny could lead them to determine that you are unlikely to leave Canada, or that your visits are not genuine, ultimately resulting in the rejection of your visitor visa application. We help with refusals, such as judicial reviews and reconsideration request, but it is definitely best to prepare a strong and complete application.

Conclusion

Grasping the intricacies of immigration regulations, including the length of stay, is pivotal for a smooth visit to Canada. Overstaying repercussions could range from facing entry restrictions in the future to removal from Canada. At Marin Immigration Law, our mission is to guide you through every step, ensuring a seamless and joyful Canadian expedition. We can help you comply with visitor visa requirements, lenght of stay, applying for a visitor record and even refusals in Federal Court.


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Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is general informational purposes and it is not legal advice. The information not a substitute for professional legal advice, and it may not be appropriate for you. Do not rely exclusively on this blog. Always conduct your own research and due diligence. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, immigration laws and regulations can vary and change over time. It is important to consult with a qualified immigration lawyer if you are unsure how to proceed.

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