Most foreign nationals who come to Canada will need either a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or an electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly or drive to a Canadian border, depending on their country of nationality. In general, the TRV must be obtained from a visa office outside Canada.
This article explains the process for obtaining a TRV from inside Canada. In many cases, you may travel to Canada with a TRV that then expires while you are still in Canada with a valid work or study permit. You may find yourself wanting to go back home for a vacation, or perhaps have an urgent need to travel due to a family emergency. You will need a valid TRV to return to Canada, even if your work or study permit is still valid.
To be clear, an international student or foreign worker who leaves Canada temporarily can always apply abroad for a new TRV abroad to the visa office serving their country. However, this can make the return trip highly unpredictable, as the new TRV is never guaranteed and the processing time can be uncertain. It is usually preferable to secure a new TRV before you leave Canada, if possible. Even if you have no plans to travel abroad, it is still advisable to keep your TRV up to date in case you need to leave Canada unexpectedly during your stay.
Who needs a Temporary Resident Visa?
Those travelling on passports from certain countries, as listed on the website of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), will need a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) to come to Canada. It is important to note that you cannot board a plane with a work permit or study permit only; you need an entry document as well, namely a valid TRV or eTA depending on your country of origin
A TRV is automatically issued to applicants from applicable countries when their application is approved abroad to visit, study or work in Canada. The TRV itself is a physical counterfoil or sticker inserted into the passport to allow the traveller to board a plane to Canada. It may allow for a single-entry only, or multiple entries within the validity period. You must travel to Canada before it expires.
Once arriving at the Canadian border, it is solely up to border officials to determine whether you will be granted entry as a temporary resident, and for how long. They always have a right to question anyone seeking to enter Canada, even with a valid entry visa, concerning their plans in Canada, the funds available for their stay, etc. They can also check your electronic devices if they wish.
The officer must be satisfied that you are a genuine temporary resident and are admissible. If so, they will issue you a status document such as work permit or study permit which sets out the purpose and length of your stay as a temporary resident.
Where to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa
The general rule is that foreign nationals must apply for a TRV in their home country if they wish to travel to Canada.
But, as indicated above, foreign nationals who are already in Canada will sometimes need to travel abroad when their TRV has expired or is about to expire. Just to note: there is no problem remaining in Canada with an expired TRV as long as you hold a valid work or study permit. The TRV is an entry document and is only needed when you attempt to re-enter.
An in-Canada process to renew TRVs is available through the Case Processing Centre in Ottawa for those who qualify.
Who can apply inside Canada – Workers and Students
Although the general rule is that foreign nationals must apply for a TRV at the visa office serving their own country, there are exceptions for workers and students already in Canada.
International students and temporary foreign workers are the two groups permitted to apply for a TRV inside Canada from inside of Canada. Getting a new TRV before leaving Canada provides assurance they can return to Canada to resume their work or study program without having to deal with the visa office abroad.
It is important to realize that extending a work or study permit in Canada does not automatically result in a new TRV being issued to you (as occurred when you first applied abroad). You must apply separately for the TRV if you are in Canada.
The application process for workers and students
You can apply for the TRV through an IRCC secure online account, which you must create if you do not have one already. Paper applications are no longer accepted unless you cannot apply online due to a disability or other exceptional circumstances beyond your control. Canada Immigration recommends applying at least two months before travel, and not leaving until you have the new visa. We suggest three months, if possible, to be on the safe side.
Once your application is approved, you will need to courier your passport to the Case Processing Centre in Ottawa for insertion of the visa.
The new TRV will be issued with the same expiry date as your valid study permit or work permit. Therefore, if your permit needs to be extended, you must extend it before applying for the TRV, as you will require the new study permit or work permit for the TRV application. You may also need to renew your passport before you can apply to extend your temporary status in Canada.
Visitors in Canada: Must apply through visa office abroad
Only foreign nationals with a valid work or study permit can apply for a new TRV inside Canada. If you have visitor status only, you cannot obtain a new visitor visa from inside Canada. You must apply to the visa office in your home country. Of course, you can apply to extend your visitor status to remain in Canada longer, but if you wish to leave Canada temporarily, and your TRV has expired or is about to expire, you will need to apply for the new TRV abroad.
This often affects minor children who are accompanying a parent who has a work or study permit – the child is usually a visitor. To renew their TRV, an application must be submitted online to the visa post responsible for their country of citizenship. When approved, the passport must be couriered to the Visa Application Centre (VAC) responsible for that visa post to allow the counterfoil to be physically inserted in the passport and the VAC will return it to you.
Documents required for a TRV inside Canada
You can find the application form and the compete document checklist to apply for a TRV inside Canada on the IRCC website.
All applicants must submit the following documents as a minimum:
- A valid passport
- A valid work or study permit
- Proof of employment (for workers), or a recent transcript and proof of enrolment (for students)
- Proof of funds ($10,000 for the applicant; $4000 for spouse/partner and $3000 for other family members)
Additional documents may be required depending on your circumstances, such as biometrics if you have not done them in the past 10 years. Medical exams are not generally required if you have been living in Canada for the past 12 months but are required for anyone working in agriculture, health care or education.
Travelling to the United States
A different rule applies to those who travel only to the United States. If you would otherwise require a valid TRV to re-enter Canada, you will not need to produce one if you travelled only to the United States as long as you still have a current status document, namely a valid work permit, study permit or visitor record for Canada.
At The Way Immigration, we would be pleased to assist you to apply for a new entry visa from within Canada. We are familiar with the inside-Canada process and can assess your situation to ensure you are eligible, and advise on the forms and documents needed for the online application in your situation, and guide you through the process to apply before leaving Canada if possible. If you or your family members are not eligible to apply for a new visa within Canada, or for any reason find yourself outside of Canada without the necessary temporary resident visa to return, please contact our office to book a consultation and we would be happy to assist.