BlogWhen to renew my Canadian immigration status?

11 May 2022

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As immigration lawyers we are often consulted by individuals for a wide array of immigration processes where their current status is expiring imminently – like today or tomorrow! There are also people who come to us AFTER their status has already expired. There are ways of fixing most things, but not all things. Which raises the question….When is the best time to apply to renew my status?

Renewing Temporary Status – visitor, student and work permits and understanding Maintained Status (formerly called Implied Status)

The general guidelines on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website advise temporary residents to renew their status at least 30 days before it expires. There is nothing magical about this 30 day period….it is merely a recommendation from IRCC. When clients ask us how long before their status expires do they have to renew their temporary status, I say that it is like “Cinderella” – you have until the stroke of midnight of the last day on the permit before you will turn into a “pumpkin”. That has recently been modified to align with international time zones and to “level the playing field” for all applicants. IRCC now uses Coordinated Universal Time as the standard for electronically filed applications. So long as you apply to renew your status before it expires, you will have maintained your status and can remain in Canada pending a decision.

However, while you have until the final day of the validity of your permit to submit an application to renew or extend it, you should really consider doing so weeks, if not months in advance. Firstly, you need to consider whether you have the ability to renew your status. For a visitor, you can always apply to renew your status. However for students or workers it depends upon different things. As a student you need to demonstrate that you are still enrolled in and attending school. For workers, it depends upon the type of work permit that you have and whether it can be extended. There are many types of work permits: Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) based work permits, Intra-Company Transferee (ICT) work permits, Post Graduation Work Permits (PGWP), International Experience Class (IEC) work permits such as working holiday permits, just to name a few. Whether they can be extended will depend upon whether you need to first obtain another LMIA, are eligible to extend an IEC permit or transition to another IEC category of permit, or need to consider whether you can qualify for another type of work permit. If you need to transition to a different type of work permit, this can take several months. A good rule of thumb is to start thinking about this a good six months in advance.

Restoring your temporary status

Many clients come to us AFTER their status has already expired. In such cases the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) prescribes a maximum period of 90 days within which to restore your status. You are also limited to restoring your status to what you had before – worker to worker and student to student. If you are no longer eligible to work or study, then you can apply to restore as a visitor but you will no longer be eligible to work or study in Canada including while you are waiting for a decision on your restoration application.

Permanent Residence options

For many workers and students in Canada, they seek to transition to permanent resident (PR) status. There are many factors to consider as to whether a person will be able to qualify for Canadian permanent residence including language proficiency in either or both English and French supported by an IRCC approved language test; having an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) confirming the equivalency of your foreign education to Canadian standards; and letters of reference for your work experience which conform to IRCC standards. (To learn about the standards for an IRCC acceptable employment reference letter please see our former blog “Getting the Reference Letter Right”. https://canadian-visa-lawyer.com/immigration-essentials-getting-the-reference-letter-right/ )

If becoming a PR is your ultimate goal, I recommend starting the evaluation process BEFORE you come to Canada. This will assist you in knowing what you will need to achieve while you are here. Alternatively, you should determine your ability to qualify for PR soon after your arrival in Canada. It may take several years for you to be able to qualify for PR. For example, language proficiency is not something that you can improve in a matter of weeks or months. If your proficiency is not high enough to qualify for PR, then you may need to take classes to improve your proficiency to achieve a language score that will ultimately allow you to qualify.

Renewing your Permanent Resident Card

When to renew your PR card will firstly depend upon whether you meet the residency requirement which generally requires physical presence in Canada of 730 days over a five year period. (There are some exceptions to this but they are outside the scope of this blog). If you have not met the 730 day threshold, then you should not apply to renew your card until you do. You should also not depart Canada as you may not be able to re-enter Canada and you won’t likely be issued a travel document to return to Canada. There is also an IRCC policy that advises clients NOT to apply to renew their

PR card more than 9 months before their card is going to expire. So don’t apply too soon, don’t leave it to the last minute and don’t apply if you don’t meet the residency requirement.

There is no hard and fast answer as to when is the best time to apply to renew your status, but in general, sooner is better. Keeping track of your status is ESSENTIAL! The recommended guidelines will vary depending upon what your status is that you are seeking to extend or renew. But a good rule of thumb is to start asking questions about what your extension options are, or options for transitioning to permanent resident status, at least six months before your current status expires. More time generally gives you more choice and less stress.

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Sas and Ing Immigration Law Centre LLP

A partnership between Catherine Sas Law Corporation and Victor Ing Law Corporation

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