Immigration Corner | Options to remain in Canada
Dear Miss Powell,
My cousin is a Canadian citizen and she lives alone in Canada. She invited me to visit with her and I have a ticket to leave in a few months. However, we were wondering if there is a way to convert my visitor visa to a permanent visa, so that I can stay with her longer to help her. Can I get a work permit? Can she sponsor me? What are my options to remain in Canada?
I’m sorry to hear about your cousin’s illness and glad that you can be there with her. Canada has various programmes to foster family unification. The options range from an extension of your temporary resident/visitor visa, application for work or study permit, sponsorship, or express entry application. I will outline the main requirements. However, you will need to schedule an appointment with an immigration lawyer to discuss additional facts to determine which option is best suited for you and your cousin.
APPLICATION TO CHANGE CONDITIONS
Your visa cannot be “converted” to a permanent visa. However, you may apply to extend your time to remain in Canada as a visitor beyond the six months that is usually granted upon entering Canada. You must apply before the visa expires and if approved, your time may be extended up to a maximum of another six months.
You may also apply to remain in Canada as a worker or a student. If you wish to remain as a worker, you will need to first get a valid job offer from an employer who has a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment report (LMIA). The LMIA report authorises a Canadian employer to hire an international worker with the government’s authorisation. Once your employer present you with that report, then you may apply for an employer-specific work permit, without having to leave Canada.
After working in Canada for a minimum of one year as a skilled worker, you may be eligible to apply to remain in Canada indefinitely, under the Express Entry System, if you are eligible to apply under programmes such as Federal Skilled Worker, Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Trade Worker, or if you receive a Provincial Nomination.
If you get a work permit to be employed by your cousin, or anyone with an LMIA report, then you may be eligible to apply for permanent residence under the Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot, if it is available at the time of applying.
If you are thinking of staying in Canada as a student, with the intention of applying for permanent residence, then you would first need an acceptance letter from a designated learning institution (DLI) to do the minimum of a one-year programme then apply for a study permit. You will need to prove that you have the resources to be able to pay your international student tuition fees and living expenses for the duration of your studies, and able to satisfy other requirements.
As a student, you will be permitted to work up to 20 hours per week during the school term and full-time during the holidays, for any employer, without the need for an LMIA report. You will not be permitted to begin working before your studies begin. The rules for working on or off campus and as a co-op student are different, and so you should also discuss this during your consultation with your lawyer.
A cousin does not fall directly under the family class of relatives that can be sponsored. However, there is an exception to the rule which states that a Canadian citizen may sponsor one relative, for example, a cousin, related by blood or adoption, of any age, if the sponsor does not have a living relative he could otherwise sponsor. This means that if your cousin has other relatives, such as a spouse, common-law partner, or daughter, parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle alive, then those relatives would be seen as eligible for sponsorship. Even if those relatives do not wish to be sponsored, you would not be eligible.
For individuals who do not qualify under any other programme, then you may discuss with your lawyer to see if you have a strong case to apply for permanent residence based on humanitarian and compassion grounds. However, you should note that this category has strict rules and is usually only approved in exceptional cases. Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will be examining your application to evaluate things such as your family ties to Canada, how settled you are in Canada, and what could happen to you if your application is not approved.
You must also be prepared to pass the medical and security tests as part of your application for permanent residence. You must have status at the time of applying for any of the options listed above. The key is to ensure that you do not remain in Canada without authorisation, and so you should apply to extend your stay as a visitor at least six weeks before the expiry of your visitor visa. However, if the time has already passed, then you may be able to apply for restoration of status, provided that 90 days has not yet passed.
Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public in Canada. You may connect with her on Facebook and Instagram. You may also call or WhatsApp 613-695-8777.