Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Immigration Corner | Afraid to go home

Published:Tuesday | January 3, 2017 | 1:00 AM

Dear Ms Powell,

I am a Jamaican attending school in Canada. I have a job for the summer and plan to take a quick trip to Jamaica before the summer is over. My concern is that my study permit says something about the fact that it does not authorise re-entry. It doesn't say anything about me not being able to work. My programme doesn't end until 2018. I'm worried that if I go back to Jamaica I won't be able to come back to finish my programme. I want to see my family, but I don't want to get stuck in Jamaica. Is there a way to check before I leave to make sure I don't have problems?

- J.E.

Dear J.E.,

There is a distinction between a study/work permit and a visa. A study permit without restrictions may authorise you to work within Canada on a part-time basis, up to a maximum of 20 hours, and on a full-time basis during breaks/holidays. You do not have to apply for a separate work permit, provided that there is no clear restriction endorsed on your permit.

Your study permit is not a visa. You will not be allowed to re-enter Canada using just your study permit. Your study permit is endorsed with 'This Does Not Authorise Re-Entry'. This means that you will need to have a valid temporary resident visa or be a citizen of a visa-exempt country. You should always ensure that you have a valid temporary resident visa to be able to travel to and from Canada.

You will need a temporary resident visa (TRV) to return to Canada. Check your passport. You must have had a TRV. The period of time granted varies. It could be as little as three month, and up to five or 10 years. It could be a multiple-entry visa or a one-entry visa. Sometimes, individuals submit an application for TRV for a one-entry visa, because of the cost of the application, without looking at the long-term effects. Usually, a visitor can stay in Canada up to six months with a TRV. However, a work/study permit allows you to stay in Canada up to the expiry of the permit without reapplying. This, however, does not grant you authority to leave and return to Canada without a valid TRV.

When applying for a work permit or study permit, it is always best to indicate on your TRV application that you are applying for a multiple-entry TRV. It saves you reapplying during the course of your studies.

If you are not a green-card holder and your TRV will expire while you are in Jamaica, then you may reapply for your TRV when you are in Jamaica. There is no guarantee that you will be granted the TRV when you are there. You will be evaluated based on the requirements under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations, just like any other applicant who lives in Jamaica. It will be your duty to submit the same documents as when you first applied for the TRV. You will need to show ties to your home country or country of permanent residence, proof that you will return and that you are motivated to return to your home country on the completion of your studies. Most important, you will need to submit proof that you can afford to complete your studies in Canada.

Can you apply within Canada? The answer is yes and I strongly recommend that you do so before you leave Canada. The application process is faster and less stressful. It also alleviates your fears of not being able to return to Canada in time for school. Bear in mind that you should also submit the same documents as if you were outside of Canada, as noted above. This application should be submitted at least two months prior to your departure from Canada or two months before the expiry of your visa, whichever is first.

- Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public. Send your questions or comments to info@deidrepowell.com, put in the subject of your email 'immigration question'. Follow her at Facebook/jamaicanlawyer. Call 613.695.8777 or 922-4092.