Living in Canada as a Visitor
Getting your toe in the door as a visitor
People sometimes ask if they can enter Canada as visitors and then, while they're living in Canada, apply for temporary work permits, with a view to upgrading their TWPs to permanent residence status.
Yes, it theoretically is possible to do this, and in fact a few members of the BE forum have done it.
There are, however, some obstacles.
- British citizens usually are allowed to enter Canada for up to six months. However, keep in mind that the immigration officer at the port of entry is allowed to use his/her discretion in admitting a traveller to Canada. The immigration officer also can use his/her discretion in the length of time for which he/she admits a British citizen to Canada, up to a maximum of six months. But typically IOs do admit British citizens for the full six months.
- If a British visitor wants to stay in Canada beyond the initial six months, he/she can apply for an extension of his/her visitor status. This application needs to be submitted in good time, before the expiration of the initial six months.
- Children who are in Canada as visitors are not entitled to receive free schooling from public (state) schools.
- Visitors are not eligible for provincial health care insurance coverage.
- A visitor is not entitled to exchange his/her UK driver's licence for a provincial driver's licence. A visitor may drive in Canada on his UK driver's licence for a finite length of time. Please research the rules of the specific province in which you want to live. However those who enter under the Parents and Grandparents Supervisa scheme should refer to additional notes below.
- If you are granted a temporary work permit or a permanent residence visa while you're in Canada as a visitor, you have to leave the country and re-enter so that you officially can "land" in Canada. The nickname for this quick trip outside the country, which can be as short as an hour or so, is the trip around the flagpole.
- There is an exception to the general rule that states that a Visitor may not remain in Canada for more than 6 months. A parent or grandparent may apply for a 10 year visa, know as a Supervisa. This will allow the parent of grandparent to remain in Canada for a maximum period of two years (renewable) during which time the parent or grandparent status will remain as Visitor. Under these circumstances and after a period of time has elapsed, that may be different in different provinces, the parent or grandparent will be required to exchange his or her UK drivers license for the provincial equivalent. As time passes the parent of grandparent will have spent sufficient time in Canada to have become resident in Canada for tax purposes and will need to file for taxes within Canada. As a visitor the parent or grandparent may not work or receive any state benefits. He or she will need to purchase a special category of travel insurance known as Supervisa Insurance from a Canadian company and will need to fund all medical expenses from this insurance or from personal resources. As a Visitor he or she will not be able to claim some provincial tax allowances that are available to other Canadian residents, eg age related relief for provincial residential taxation or property transfer transfer taxation relief within family members.
- Some foreign citizens own homes in Canada, and alternate between living in Canada and another country.
- In theory a British citizen would be admitted to Canada for six months at a time.
- Some people have done this for years.
- However, remember that the immigration officer at the port of entry always has the right to bar you from entering Canada.
- So buying property in Canada with a view to being a seasonal resident is not entirely without risk.