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  • Writer's pictureImmergity Immigration Consultant

Visitor Record Canada - Extend Your Stay

A Visitor Record in Canada is a document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that provides the terms of a visitor's stay in Canada.


Visitor Record
Image source: Canada.ca

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Key Takeaways

Definition and Purpose

A Visitor Record is a document for foreign nationals in Canada to extend their stay or change conditions. It's not a visa and doesn't allow re-entry on its own.

Eligibility and Application

Applicable to visitors seeking to extend or alter their stay. The IMM 5708 form is used for application, ideally submitted 30 days before the current status expires.

Conditions of Visitor Record

Specifies the period of stay and conditions like no authorization to work/study unless explicitly allowed.

Work Permit Exemptions

Some foreign nationals can receive a Visitor Record at the POE exempting them from requiring a work permit for specific types of work.

Study Permit Exemptions

Authorizes certain individuals to study in Canada without a study permit in specific situations.

Extending Stay with Visitor Recor

Must apply before the current status expires; involves a similar process to the initial application with the need for justification and financial evidence.

Renewal and Multiple Extensions

Possible to renew or extend; each typically granted up to six months, with no statutory limit on number of extensions but subject to cumulative duration review.

Refusals and Appeals

Refusals may be due to inadequate financial support, intent, or past violations. Limited appeal options, mostly for procedural fairness.

Transition to Other Categories

Possible to transition to other statuses like work or study permits, or even permanent residency, but requires meeting specific criteria of those categories.

What is a Visitor Record?

Definition: A Visitor Record is an official document issued by IRCC to individuals who have been granted an extension of their stay in Canada as visitors. This document is not a visa; it doesn’t allow entry into Canada but specifies the conditions and length of the extended stay within Canada.


Contents: The Visitor Record includes important information such as the visitor's status in Canada, the effective date of the status, and the date by which the visitor must leave Canada or apply for another extension.


A Visitor Record is issued to visa-required or visa-exempt foreign nationals either at the port of entry (POE) or within Canada by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). This document is crucial for:


  1. Extending or limiting the length of a temporary resident’s stay in Canada.

  2. Specifying the conditions applicable to their stay.


Purpose of the Visitor Record

The Visitor Record serves several critical functions:

  1. Defining Conditions of Admission: It outlines the conditions of a temporary resident's admission to Canada, such as the length and terms of their stay.

  2. Specifying Validity Dates: It indicates the period during which the foreign national is authorized to stay in Canada.

  3. Capturing Essential Information: The document records essential information about the individual and their purpose in Canada.


When is a Visitor Record Issued?

CBSA and IRCC Circumstances:

A Visitor Record is issued by Canadian immigration authorities under different circumstances, both at the port of entry and within Canada. The two main bodies responsible for issuing Visitor Records are the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).


CBSA: Issuance at the Port of Entry

Upon Arrival in Canada:

The CBSA, responsible for border and port of entry activities, may issue a Visitor Record to an individual arriving in Canada. This typically happens when there are specific conditions attached to the individual’s stay or when there’s a need for clear documentation of the length of their authorized stay.


Reasons for Issuance by CBSA:

Ensuring Compliance: If the CBSA officer determines that it’s necessary to impose certain conditions on the visitor’s stay, a Visitor Record is issued to formalize these conditions. Examples include restrictions on work, study, or travel within Canada.

Documentation of Stay Period: In cases where the officer decides to authorize a stay that is shorter or longer than the standard six months, a Visitor Record is provided to clearly indicate the authorized duration of stay.


Special Circumstances:

Sometimes, visitors might be granted a stay under specific terms due to unusual circumstances or based on their reason for travel. The Visitor Record serves as a legal document outlining these terms.


IRCC: Issuance Within Canada

Extension of Stay:

  • Visitors already in Canada who wish to extend their stay beyond the date initially authorized must apply to IRCC for a Visitor Record. This is common for tourists or family members who want to stay longer than the period granted upon entry.

  • Individuals who have overstayed their visa but are still within the 90-day grace period for restoration of status can apply to IRCC for a Visitor Record. This record will regularize their stay, assuming they meet the eligibility criteria.

  • If a visitor in Canada wishes to change the conditions of their stay (for example, from tourism to business activities), they can apply to IRCC for a Visitor Record reflecting this change.

  • Applications for a Visitor Record through IRCC involve submitting a completed form (usually IMM 5708), along with supporting documents and the appropriate fees. The process can be conducted online or through a paper application.


Conditions Imposed on Temporary Residents

The conditions imposed on temporary residents in Canada, particularly those under a Visitor Record, are governed by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR). These regulations set out the legal framework and guidelines that dictate the terms of a temporary resident's stay in Canada.


Authorization for the Period of Stay

  1. Defined Duration: The Visitor Record explicitly states the period for which the temporary resident is authorized to stay in Canada. This period is determined at the time of issuance and is one of the most critical aspects of the Visitor Record.

  2. Legal Status: The duration specified in the Visitor Record is legally binding. The holder of the Record is expected to either leave Canada by the expiry date or apply for an extension if they wish to stay longer.

  3. Compliance: Staying beyond the authorized period without an approved extension is a violation of Canadian immigration laws and can lead to loss of status, potential deportation, and difficulties with future immigration applications.


Stipulations on Engaging in Work or Studies

  1. Restrictions on Work and Study: Typically, a Visitor Record does not permit the holder to engage in work or study in Canada. Engaging in these activities without proper authorization (such as a work permit or study permit) constitutes a breach of the conditions.

  2. Consequences of Violation: Violating these conditions can lead to serious repercussions, including the revocation of the visitor status, inadmissibility for future entry into Canada, and possible removal from the country.

  3. Obtaining Proper Authorization: If a visitor wishes to work or study, they must apply for and obtain the appropriate permits from IRCC. This process is separate from the Visitor Record and has its own set of requirements and conditions.


Extension of the Authorized Period of Stay

  1. Application for Extension: Temporary residents may apply to extend their stay in Canada before their current Visitor Record expires. This process involves submitting a new application with a justification for the extension and evidence of financial support.

  2. Timely Application: It's crucial to apply for an extension well in advance of the expiration date. Late applications (after the expiry of the current Visitor Record) may lead to loss of status and complicate the extension process.

  3. Granting of Extension: The decision to grant an extension is at the discretion of IRCC and is based on the assessment of the new application. Factors considered include the reason for extension, the applicant’s ties to their home country, and their financial ability to support themselves in Canada.

  4. Implied Status: If a temporary resident applies for an extension before their Visitor Record expires, they are usually granted “implied status,” allowing them to legally stay in Canada under the same conditions as their current status until a decision is made on their application.


Applying for a Visitor Record

To apply for a Visitor Record, you must:

  1. Apply Online: The application must be done online for faster processing.

  2. Prepare Documentation: Ensure you have all necessary documents, including electronic copies.

  3. Read the Instruction Guide: This guide provides detailed information on how to fill out the application form.


Application Process:

  • Applicants must fill out the IMM 5708 form, "Application to Change Conditions, Extend My Stay or Remain in Canada as a Visitor."

  • Supporting documents, including proof of financial support and a copy of the passport, are required.

  • The application can be submitted online or via paper. Online submissions are generally processed more quickly.

Visitor Record for Specific Purposes


Work Permit Exemptions

Eligibility for Exemption:

Certain foreign nationals may be exempt from obtaining a work permit to engage in specific types of work in Canada. These exemptions are based on the nature of the work, its duration, or the individual’s circumstances.


Visitor Record at Point of Entry (POE):

Eligible individuals can request a Visitor Record indicating their work permit exemption when they enter Canada at a POE. This record will specify the conditions and length of their authorized stay and work in Canada.


Types of Exempt Work:

  • Common categories of work that might qualify for an exemption include:

  • Business visitors who are in Canada for meetings, conferences, or trade shows.

  • Performing artists participating in specific events or festivals.

  • Public speakers for short-term engagements.

  • Clergy coming to perform religious services.

  • Athletes and team members participating in specific sports events.


Documentation and Justification:

Individuals must provide documentation and justification for their work permit exemption at the POE. This might include letters from employers or event organizers in Canada, detailing the nature and duration of the work.


Study Permit Exemptions


Study Without a Permit:

In certain situations, foreign nationals may be authorized to study in Canada without a study permit. This exemption is often granted through a Visitor Record.


Eligible Situations for Exemption:

  • Short-duration courses: Foreign nationals can take courses or programs of study that are less than six months in duration without a study permit.

  • Minor children: In some cases, minor children in Canada can study at the pre-primary or primary level without a study permit, depending on their parents' immigration status.

  • Other specific situations: Diplomats' family members and certain other individuals may also qualify for study permit exemptions.


Visitor Record for Study Permit Exemption:

When eligible individuals enter Canada, they can request a Visitor Record that notes their exemption from the study permit requirement. This record outlines the conditions of their stay and the specifics of their study exemption.


Limitations and Conditions:

It’s important to note that studying without a permit is restricted to the specific conditions outlined in the Visitor Record. Engaging in study activities outside these parameters may violate Canadian immigration regulations.


Extending Your Stay with a Visitor Record

Foreign nationals can apply to extend their temporary resident status beyond the initial period granted. It's recommended to apply at least 30 days before the current status expires.


Processing Times and Considerations

Processing Times:

  • The processing time for a Visitor Record can vary based on the volume of applications received, the completeness of the application, and the individual circumstances of the applicant.


Status During Processing:

  • If an application for an extension is submitted before the expiry of the current status, the applicant is considered to have "implied status." This means they can legally remain in Canada under the same conditions as their current visa until a decision is made on their extension application.


Exploring Other Visa Options

For those interested in exploring more about Canadian immigration, additional resources are available, such as information on Canada's eTA Program Expansion and the Canada Business Visitor Visa.


Renewal and Multiple Extensions

Process of Renewal and Extensions:

  1. Application for Extension: The procedure for renewing or extending a Visitor Record is similar to the initial application. It involves submitting form IMM 5708 and the necessary supporting documents.

  2. Timeline: Applications for renewal or extension should be submitted at least 30 days before the current Visitor Record expires. This timing is crucial to maintain legal status in Canada.

  3. Documentation: Just like the initial application, the renewal or extension application requires evidence of financial support, reasons for the extended stay, and any changes in the applicant's circumstances since their last application.


Limitations and Considerations:

  1. Duration of Stay: Each extension is typically granted for up to six months, but the actual duration may vary based on the discretion of the immigration officer.

  2. Cumulative Duration: There is no statutory limit on the number of times a Visitor Record can be extended. However, officers will consider the cumulative duration of stay in Canada. Long or frequent stays may raise concerns about the applicant’s ties to their home country and their intent to return.

  3. Implied Status: If an extension is filed before the expiry of the current Visitor Record, the applicant may continue to stay in Canada under implied status until a decision is made.


Refusals and Appeals

Grounds for Refusal:

  1. Inadequate Financial Support: Insufficient proof of financial means to support the extended stay.

  2. Questionable Intent: Doubts about the applicant's intent to leave Canada at the end of their authorized stay.

  3. Violation of Past Conditions: History of not adhering to the conditions of previous stays in Canada.


Options for Appeal and Recourse:

  1. Re-application: If a Visitor Record extension is refused, one option is to address the reasons for refusal and re-apply, providing additional documentation or clarification.

  2. Judicial Review: In some cases, applicants may seek a judicial review of the decision by the Federal Court. However, this is typically limited to procedural fairness issues rather than disagreements over the officer's discretion.

  3. Legal Advice: Consulting with an immigration consultant or lawyer can provide guidance on the viability of appeals and alternative strategies.


Transition to Other Immigration Categories

Pathways to Different Immigration Statuses:

  1. Transition to Work or Study Permits: Visitor Record holders may apply for work or study permits if they meet the eligibility criteria for those categories. This often involves leaving Canada and applying from their home country, as transitions within Canada can be limited.

  2. Application for Permanent Residency: Although holding a Visitor Record does not directly lead to permanent residency, it may be part of a pathway. For example, visitors may establish relationships or gain experiences in Canada that qualify them for certain immigration programs.

  3. Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs): In some cases, experiences or connections made during a visit to Canada may open opportunities under PNPs, depending on the specific criteria of each program.

  4. Spousal Sponsorship or Family Sponsorship: If a visitor forms a genuine relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, they may be eligible for spousal or family class sponsorship.


Important Considerations:

  1. Eligibility Requirements: Each immigration category has specific eligibility criteria that must be met.

  2. No Automatic Transition: Holding a Visitor Record does not automatically entitle one to transition to another immigration category. Each application is assessed on its own merits.

  3. Legal Status: Maintaining legal status in Canada during any transition is critical. Overstaying a Visitor Record or violating its conditions can negatively impact future immigration applications.


To sum up, the Visitor Record plays a vital and multifaceted role in Canada's immigration landscape. It serves as a key instrument for foreign nationals to legally extend their stay or alter the conditions of their temporary residency within Canada. Understanding the intricacies of Visitor Records, from the application process and eligibility criteria to the specific conditions and limitations it imposes, is crucial for those seeking to navigate the Canadian immigration system effectively. The ability to renew, extend, and transition to other immigration statuses underlines the Visitor Record's flexibility and its importance in facilitating a wide range of temporary stays in Canada. However, it also brings with it the responsibility to adhere to Canadian immigration regulations, as non-compliance can have significant repercussions. The Visitor Record, therefore, represents both an opportunity and an obligation for foreign nationals in Canada, underscoring the importance of informed and compliant navigation of the immigration process.

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