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How to Change Immigration Status in Canada

Blog posted on by Evelyn Ackah in Immigration, Immigration Law and Study Permits

How to Change Immigration Status in Canada

At Ackah Law, we often get inquiries from people who come to Canada as a visitor and now want to change their immigration status, for example from Visitor to Worker, or apply for Permanent Residence. They want to know, can you change your visa status while you are in Canada, and if so, how?

Work Permits

A person can apply to change their temporary status from Visitor to Worker TRV (Temporary Resident Visa) from within Canada; however, that individual must then obtain a Work Permit. No one has the right to remain in Canada as a worker without a Work Permit.

Often a timing problem occurs. If your current visitor / temporary resident status is still valid you can apply for an extension of your stay. Typically, work permits require a job offer from an employer and a positive LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment) from Human Resources Skills Development Canada. Next, the individual must apply for a work permit. The time it takes to obtain a work permit may exceed the person’s permitted time to stay in Canada as a visitor.

This means the individual may have to leave Canada before a work permit is approved and their status can be changed.

So although the immigration status change process can be initiated in Canada, an individual has to be prepared to leave Canada if the work permit process is not completed by the time his or her visitor visa status expires.

Permanent Residence

Changing your immigration status from Visitor to Permanent Resident is not possible except in very specific cases such as refugee status or spouses and partners. The Permanent Resident application process is lengthy and has many requirements. It is simply not possible to arrive in Canada as a visitor and expect to remain as a permanent resident.

If an individual arrives in Canada as a worker, then he or she may be able to apply for PR under the Canadian Experience Class after working in a skilled position for 12 months or more.

IRCC may grant work permit extensions to allow individuals to remain in Canada during the processing of a CEC permanent residence application.

Study Permits

Qualified graduate students studying in Canada on a Study Permit may receive work permits to work while in school and for up to 3 years after they graduate. Canada is actively recruited skilled foreign workers to help build the aging economy, and the Canadian government has created programs to recruit highly educated and skilled immigrant MBA and graduate students.

It is possible to change your visa status while you are in Canada, but there is no guarantee of success.

This post does not constitute legal advice – you should consult with a lawyer so he or she can evaluate your unique circumstances and application materials.


Evelyn Ackah

Founder/Managing Lawyer

Ms. Ackah is passionate about immigration law because it focuses on people and relationships, which are at the core of her personal values. Starting her legal career as a corporate/commercial ...

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We have been using the services of Ackah Business Immigration Law for over 5 years. Evelyn and her team have provided vital and critical help to us in navigating the complicated and ever changing rules on how to bring qualified and talented dancers to Canada as foreign workers to become part of our company. Diversity enriches what we do and these dancers are essential to our artistic success and community outreach. Evelyn’s team lead the application process, take care of all the administration and provides constant support throughout the process. As a small registered charity having this expertise available is instrumental to our success we applaud Ackah Business Immigration for generously supplying their professional services to us pro bono. Their involvement helps us to continue to enrich lives by engaging people in exploring, evolving and promoting the art of jazz dance.

– Kathi Sundstrom, Executive Director for Decidedly Jazz Danceworks

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