Temporary residents: Visitor record

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

A visitor record is a status document issued to visa-required or visa-exempt foreign nationals who are seeking to enter or are in Canada. It specifies the conditions and validity period of their temporary stay in Canada. A visitor record may be issued to

  • extend or limit the length of stay of a temporary resident in Canada
  • specify conditions applicable to the temporary resident during their stay

A visitor record also

  • defines the conditions of admission
  • specifies the validity date (or date by which the foreign national must depart Canada)
  • captures other pertinent information about the subject and the purpose for seeking entry to Canada
  • makes foreign nationals aware of the need for formal authorization before extending their period of stay

All in-Canada visitor record, study permit and work permit applications must be submitted electronically, with some exemptions. See the list of programs that are exempt from the mandatory electronic application requirement.

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When to issue a visitor record

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) may issue a visitor record in the following scenarios.

CBSA

A CBSA border services officer (BSO) may issue a visitor record to a temporary resident at the port of entry (POE) on their arrival to Canada.

When a foreign national arrives at a POE, an officer may issue a visitor record to document an authorized length of stay other than the 6-month standard, for reasons that include but are not limited to the following

  • an officer determines that it is necessary to ensure compliance with a condition imposed
    • for example, an officer believes that it is necessary to limit or extend the period of authorized stay

Please see POE issuance for more information.

IRCC

An IRCC officer at a case processing centre may issue a visitor record to a temporary resident in order to

  • extend their stay in Canada beyond their initial authorized stay
  • restore their status as a temporary resident in Canada, following a loss of their status
  • change the conditions of their stay

See in-Canada applications for more information.

Conditions of admission

Imposed conditions

Section 183 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) outlines the conditions imposed on all temporary residents:

  • authorization for the period of stay
  • indication of when the period of authorized stay for a temporary resident begins and ends
  • stipulation that the temporary resident must leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay
  • specification that the temporary resident may not engage in work or studies without authorization
  • outline of the process for an extension of period authorized for stay
  • detail on the nuances around the continuation of status and conditions

Officer-decided conditions

Section R185 states that an officer may impose, vary or cancel the following specific conditions on a temporary resident:

  • the period of time authorized for their stay
  • the work that they are permitted to engage in, or are prohibited from engaging in, in Canada
  • the studies that they are permitted to engage in, or are prohibited from engaging in, in Canada
  • the area within which they are permitted to travel, or are prohibited from travelling, in Canada
  • the times and places at which they must report for
    • medical examination
    • surveillance
    • treatment
    • presentation of evidence of compliance with applicable conditions

POE issuance

A CBSA BSO at the POE will determine the length of time that a temporary resident may remain in Canada.

If a BSO believes that a foreign national requires further examination, they will be referred to secondary for an interview and further processing. If the BSO at secondary determines that the foreign national is admissible as a visitor to Canada, they will specify a date by which the individual must leave Canada by

  • placing a stamp in the foreign national’s passport and handwriting a date below it or
  • issuing a visitor record, and placing a stamp alongside the visitor record document number

As referenced in the automated POE instructions, if the foreign national is processed at an automated POE or primary inspection kiosk (PIK), a BSO is not required to and may not place a stamp in the foreign national’s passport. A foreign national can still receive a stamp upon request, or if required by CBSA policy and regulations.

If there is no stamp or handwritten date in the foreign national’s passport, their authorized period of stay is 6 months from the day they initially entered Canada, or until their passport expires, whichever comes first, as per subsection R183(2). A visitor record may be issued at a POE in cases of:

In accordance with ENF 4: Port of Entry Examinations (PDF, 1.53 MB), section 13.32 “Issuing visitor records”, the visitor record is generated in the Global Case Management System (GCMS), printed and attached to the foreign national’s passport. The attached visitor record will be accompanied by a stamp and specific instructions (if applicable).There are no processing fees for issuing a visitor record at the POE.

Limit or extension to length of stay

Subsection R183(2) states that the standard length of stay for visitors in Canada is 6 months, but this is authorized and established at the discretion of the BSO at the POE. Issuing a visitor record is a means of exercising an element of control over the foreign national’s length of stay in Canada, with the intention of,

  • limiting to a period of less than 6 months or
  • extending beyond 6 months, although never exceeding the validity of their travel document or passport

A BSO may limit the stay of a visitor for reasons that include but are not limited to the following:

  • the foreign national’s passport or travel document will expire within 6 months
  • the foreign national is a seafarer signing off or seeking entry to join a crew
  • the foreign national is entering Canada for medical treatment
  • the foreign national has been extradited to Canada and is being allowed forward as a temporary resident

A BSO may also issue a visitor record if they determine that the foreign national’s departure from Canada must be verified by the CBSA, by imposing a reporting requirement. See officer-decided conditions for more information.

Work permit and study permit exemptions

Foreign nationals may be issued a visitor record at the POE in situations that include, but are not limited to the following.

Work permit exemptions

Please see the list of foreign nationals who may be authorized to work without a permit.

Foreign nationals who are eligible for the 120-day work permit exemption or the short-term (15- to 30-day) work permit exemption may request a visitor record at the POE.

If requested and if all other requirements have been met, a BSO will issue a visitor record to the foreign national. This will verify the status of the temporary resident as work permit exempt and support their application to Service Canada for their Social Insurance Number.

The issued visitor record would include remarks specifying the ability of the foreign national to work without a permit. Acceptable remarks that may appear on the visitor record include

  • “Work permit exempt as a [job title]”
  • “Work permit exempt, per section R186”; a subsection may be listed, for example, subsection R186(s)
  • “120-day short-term work permit exemption – Public policy”
  • “30-day or 15-day short-term work permit exemption – Public policy”

Consult the “Visitor records” section in the Short-term (120-day) work permit exemption PDI for more details.

Study permit exemptions

See the list of foreign nationals who are exempt from the requirement of a study permit.

A foreign national studying in Canada may be issued a visitor record to authorize a stay in Canada without a study permit to attend a course or program of study of 6 months or less. Minor children already in Canada are authorized to study without a study permit at the pre-school, primary and secondary level, if one of their parents is a visitor record holder and is authorized to study without a permit.

In-Canada applications

A foreign national may apply to extend their temporary resident status beyond the initial period granted for their stay by a BSO at the POE or by a previous in-Canada extension.

If a foreign national applies to extend their stay in Canada and meets the eligibility requirements as a visitor, the IRCC officer may issue a visitor record, which serves to legally extend a foreign national’s temporary resident status in Canada.

A temporary resident should apply at least 30 days in advance of their status expiring, and must submit an application to IRCC to apply for a visitor record.

The application must be accompanied by the appropriate extension fee in order to initiate processing of the visitor record.

In cases where foreign nationals lose their temporary resident status, they may, within 90 days of losing it, apply for restoration of temporary resident status.

If the applicant is eligible for restoration, the officer will issue a visitor record outlining the conditions of the restoration, including the length of stay. The visitor record issued following an in-Canada application typically includes an extension or restoration of 6 months, but this may vary from case to case.

Parents and grandparents who hold a super visa, have valid temporary resident status and who apply to extend their stay in Canada are issued a visitor record for 1 year as a default.

Refer to instructions on super visas for information specific to the processing of and length of stay for super visa holders.

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