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What is Dual Intent?

What exactly is Dual Intent in the immigration context? How does it affect your application for temporary or permanent resident status in Canada?

To put it simply, dual intent means to have two intentions or plans. When arriving at a Canadian Port of Entry, a person with the intent to enter Canada on a Temporary Basis (ie: as a tourist, student or temporary worker) and later or concurrently apply for Permanent Residence (PR) is said to have dual intent.

They are allowed to enter Canada on a temporarily even though they ultimately plan to apply for Permanent Residence. This is permitted under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act as long as the immigration officer at the Port of Entry is satisfied that the person entering Canada as a temporary resident complies with the terms of their requested status, is not inadmissible, and most importantly will leave at the end of the time allowed for their requested status (IRPA s. 22(2)). This blog post will discuss the types of temporary status, the rules for being admissible to Canada as a temporary resident, and how dual intent is assessed at the Port of Entry.  

Entering Canada on a Temporary Resident Visa

There are three broad categories of temporary status: students, workers, and visitors. Each of these applications has its own rules regarding the limitations of the visa/permit, costs, and financial requirements. Overall, temporary residents in Canada are authorized to enter and stay in Canada provided they hold a visa (IRPA s. 20(1)(b)) and comply with their visa rules and requirements (IRPA s.29).

Members of the Student Class can study in Canada at Designated Learning Institutions (DLI). These are post-secondary institutions that meet minimum standards set by the IRCC. An international student studying at one of these institutions needs a study permit, defined under s. 2 of the IRPA as “a written authorization to engage in academic, professional, vocational or other education or training in Canada that is issued by an officer to a foreign national.” To apply for a student visa as a Temporary Resident, students must show a Letter of Acceptance from the DLI, demonstrate the ability to pay the tuition fees and living expenses, and complete the biometrics requirement.

Now, where does the notion of dual intent have to do with this? After graduating, students in Canada on study permits qualify for the Post Graduate Work Permit Program (PGWPP), which helps students qualify for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience. This allows students to accumulate work experience in Canada to assist them in applying for Permanent Residence. A student is given a post-graduate work permit of a certain length depending on the length of their completed studies in Canada.

When a foreign national applies for their study permit, they could have the intention of just studying in Canada and leaving upon the completion of their studies. But it is very common to use Canadian education to start their goal of Canadian permanent residency and eventually Citizenship. A foreign national entering Canada to study can have plans to stay in Canada following their schooling on a Post Graduate Work Permit and ultimately apply for Permanent Residence.

A common reason for a study permit refusal is that the officer is not convinced the student will leave Canada after their study. It is important to stress in your application your ties to your home country and that you plan to leave Canada after your study, even if you have an intention to apply for PR down the line.

Work is defined in the IRPA as “an activity for which wages are paid or commission is earned, or that is in direct competition with the activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market.” (s. 2) There are a number of different ways foreign nationals can come to Canada for work but arriving at a Port of Entry for work usually occurs when a foreign national has a work permit directly linked to a specific workplace. This is because the workplace must apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment, which is an application for an opinion on the impact of hiring a foreign national in Canada’s job market.

Dual Intent for workers is most clearly facilitated under the IRCC Express Entry system. The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), Canadian Experience Class (CEC), and Global Talent Stream all allow employers to apply for a dual intent Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) which can be used to support both a temporary work permit (how all of these applications begin) and a permanent resident visa. This means that a worker will arrive in Canada as a temporary worker but be able to apply for permanent residence. This is because foreign workers are crucial to helping Canadian employers meet their employee needs and it is beneficial for both employers and the Canadian economy that workers can stay in Canada at their positions. The temporary foreign worker programs which lead into permanent residency are as follows:

The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) is an Express Entry application stream that is for higher-skilled positions, including management, professional, scientific, technical, and some trade occupations. The National Occupation Classification (NOC) for this position must be a skill type 0, and the skill levels must be either A or B. The employment must be full-time, with a minimum of 30 hours per week, and for at least one year.

Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) requires the employer to be offering a job for an eligible skilled trade or technical occupation which is NOC skill level B. The job must be full-time and for at least one year. Under the FSTP, two employers may collaborate on a job offer. It is also an Express Entry application stream.

Canadian Experience Class (CEC) much like the FSWP, the CEC program is for higher-skilled positions such as management, professional, scientific, technical, or trade occupations with a NOC skill type 0 and skill levels A and B. The job must be a full-time position for at least one year. With the CEC, the worker must have at least 12 months of full-time skilled work experience in Canada within the 36 months before they apply for permanent residence.

Global Talent Stream is intended for companies and organizations which are referred to Employment and Social Development Canada by a designated referral partner. Many of these jobs are in Canada’s technology, research and development, and engineering industries.  

Foreign Academics are important to help degree-granting postsecondary institutions meet their educational, teaching, and research needs. As a result of this need, certain categories of academics can be hired by universities and colleges without the employers completing an LMIA.

Working as a Caregiver in Canada
Caregivers who care for the elderly, those with medical needs, or children are very important to Canada. As a result, there is a clear path from their status as a temporary foreign worker, a caregiver, to permanent residency. In the past, this was through the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP). The LCP is, however, now closed to new applications. But, caregivers still have a simpler path to PR, through two possible streams: the Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot and, due to the continued global pandemic, the temporary pathway to permanent residence for essential workers. For the latter, workers must have one year of work experience in a health care profession or other approved essential occupation. While they are arriving with a variety of temporary work permits (which we discussed above), they ultimately intend to apply for permanent residence.

Dual intent allows employers to attract workers from all over the world and gives those workers a clear path to remaining at their jobs in Canada as it is just smart for the government to have people who are already established here with a job or education that is in demand to retain them for future programs.


In order to be given a temporary resident status in Canada a number of criteria needs to be met. The person applying must follow the application rules for their visa as either a student, worker, or visitor and they need to meet the requirements of the status that they are seeking to obtain. They must leave Canada at the end of the period prescribed in their status. They need to hold a passport or other document that they use to enter Canada. Finally, they must not be inadmissible. (IRPA s. 179) Inadmissibility describes a number of issues (criminal, health, etc.) that prevent a person from entering Canada. If a person is not able to fulfill the criteria outlined in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for a temporary resident visa, then the question of dual intent and applying for a permanent resident visa does not matter, because they will not be admitted into Canada.

How is Dual Intent Assessed?

At this point, we have discussed several ways that people are admitted to Canada temporarily and where they might have plans to stay in Canada as a Permanent Resident. It is also important to discuss the ways in which dual intent is assessed by immigration officers. An IRCC officer looking at an application for temporary residence where there is dual intent should treat it in the same fair and individualized way as any other temporary resident visa application. Also, if the officer is concerned about the application, they need to let the applicant know so that they can respond. The visa applicant must be given written notice if their application for a temporary residence visa is denied, and be given reasons as to why it was refused.

When looking at an application for temporary residence and thinking of dual intent, an immigration officer will look at: the length of the visa, the financial support available to the applicant, the ties an applicant has to their home country, the purpose of their stay in Canada, the applicant’s documents and whether they have complied with Canadian immigration law in the past.

When an applicant has family in Canada an officer’s work assessing for dual intent becomes a bit more complex. This is particularly true for spouses and partners who are being sponsored for permanent residence. An officer must consider whether the sponsorship application is approved, what stage the permanent resident sponsorship is at, and whether the applicant has strong ties to their home country. The spouse or partner must prove that they will leave Canada at the end of their temporary visa if their permanent residence application is refused. This is also true for visiting parents and grandparents, but officers generally consider issuing TRVs, including the Super Visa, which allows older family members to visit Canada for longer periods of time.

Final Thoughts

Dual intent is beneficial for both Canadian and foreign nationals who wish to come to Canada. By admitting people into Canada with two plans — both a temporary stay and an eventual application for permanent residence — dual intent allows people to start their stay in Canada temporarily, and then choose to apply for a Permanent Residence Visa from within the country. It is helpful to employers who wish to bring someone from abroad and allows the employer to retain that employee. It also encourages students and workers necessary to Canada to stay in the country. A net benefit for Canada and the people who wish to come here.

Lastly, whenever there are Dual Intent considerations that are put in place, it is important that they are treated seriously and dealt with appropriately in the application. You should ensure that there are key elements that are placed into the application, so as to meet the criteria that the officer is looking for and weighing this against.

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