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What is the difference between a TRV, TRP, and a Visitor Record?

A Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), Temporary Resident Permit (TRP), and a Visitor Record can be confusing for people to differentiate. When many first encounter these terms in their immigration journey, they are often confused and misunderstood. They all sound the same, so what’s the difference? Let us break down the terms and the role they play in Canadian immigration.

Temporary Resident Visa

First, let’s break down a Temporary Resident Visa or a TRV. A TRV is a document that a visitor may need to apply for, depending on the country that they’re coming to Canada from. You will need to apply for a TRV if you are coming to Canada to visit, study, or work temporarily if you are not from a visa-exempt country. You will require either a TRV or an electronic travel authorization (eTA), but not both. You can find out which one you will need to apply for here. You can apply for a TRV online or through a paper-based application.

If you are trying to come to Canada temporarily to work or study, you will also need to apply for a study permit or work permit in addition to a TRV if required for your country of residence. When you apply for a work or study permit for the first time, you will automatically receive a TRV if you are approved and you come from a visa-required country.  Depending on the reason you’re applying for a TRV, you may be asked to provide a letter of acceptance, a letter of invitation, or a genuine job offer in your application.

In most cases, you will be asked to provide biometrics. You must pay the biometrics fee along with the TRV application fee when you submit your application. If you do not, you will be asked to do so before any further instructions are sent to you. After paying the biometrics fee and submitting the application, you will be sent a letter instructing how and where to give your biometrics. You will have at least 30 days to do so. If you have already done biometrics before and they are still valid, you will not be asked to provide them again. You can check if you have valid biometrics online.

When you apply online for a TRV, you will not be asked to provide your original passport, unless it is asked for. If you are approved for a TRV, your passport will be returned to you with the TRV counterfoil placed inside. If you are refused, your passport and original documents will be returned to you. The TRV will show the issue date, expiry date, and the type of TRV that was issued on the counterfoil.

VERY IMPORTANT: This is always confusing to people in that they do not understand the expiry of the TRV in relation to their stay in Canada. The TRV expiry date is the date by which the TRV must be used to enter Canada. If it is not used on or before that date, it is no longer valid. The expiry date is not the date that you must leave Canada or the length of time you can stay in Canada. This will be determined when you are being examined by a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer at the port of entry.

At the port of entry, a CBSA officer will examine you to determine your identity, verify your documents, and ensure that all requirements are met. This includes checking your eligibility for the particular class of temporary resident, any potential inadmissibility, any changes in your circumstances from the time you received your TRV to your arrival in Canada, the validity of your passport, and your intention to leave.

You must prove that you hold a TRV and that you are able and willing to leave Canada at the end of your stay. If the CBSA officer is not convinced that you will leave at the end of your stay, they will refuse you entry into Canada. If the CBSA officer allows you to enter Canada, they will stamp your passport at a non-automated port of entry. The date that the officer writes below the stamp is the date that you must leave Canada by. If you are at an automated port of entry, the CBSA does not routinely stamp all passports. If there is no stamp or handwritten date, then you will have six months to stay in Canada.

As previously mentioned, six months is the general timeframe that an individual can stay in Canada on a TRV. However, the CBSA officer can impose conditions on your stay, such as reducing or increasing the time you can stay in Canada. If they do impose conditions, they will put the date in your passport. They may issue a visitor record that will show the date you need to leave by.

It is important to remember that a TRV does not mean you will be allowed entry into Canada, and it also does not grant temporary resident status. It allows you to travel to Canada, but your entry will be determined at the port of entry by a CBSA officer. If you are found to be allowed to enter Canada after examination, you will receive temporary resident status. In addition, you cannot work on a TRV unless you also have a study or work permit.

Temporary Resident Permit

The next term we’ll be talking about is a Temporary Resident Permit or TRP. A TRP can be issued to someone that an officer believes is inadmissible or doesn’t meet the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). In other words, it can be issued to someone who would otherwise be inadmissible to enter Canada. The Minister of Immigration or a specific delegated authority can choose to cancel the TRP at any time. They must balance the individual’s reasons for entering Canada with the risk that the individual could pose to the health and security of Canadians. An officer may consider whether the need for the individual to enter or stay in Canada is compelling and if the need for their presence in Canada outweighs any risk to Canadians or Canadian society. It is important to remember that applying for a TRP does not guarantee that you will be issued one.

When deciding whether or not to issue a TRP, some of the factors that an officer can look at include their history, credibility, previous removals, controversy, and social assistance. They should also consider possible alternatives, such as rehabilitation if the individual is criminally inadmissible. If the officer decides to issue a TRP, it can be issued at a visa office, at Canadian ports of entry before entry, and at an Immigration Refugee & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) inland office after entry, if the individual is found to be inadmissible.

A TRP will no longer be valid if any one of the following events happens:

  • You leave Canada without getting prior authorization to re-enter;
  • The period of validity expires;
  • It is cancelled by the delegated authority; or
  • The time period of three years passes from the date of validity.

A TRP can be valid from one day up to three years, and when issued, provides the individual with temporary resident status. If a TRP has been issued with a validity of at least 6 months, the individual can apply for a work permit or study permit and may be given access to health or social services. As you can see, it provides greater privileges compared to a TRV holder.

There are conditions that a TRP holder must comply with. They must:

  • Leave Canada before the TRP’s expiry date or when their TRP is cancelled;
  • Apply for a new TRP before the expiry of the current TRP if they want to maintain their temporary resident status; and
  • Apply for and obtain a TRV to allow them to return to Canada if all of the following applies:
    • They’re from a country whose citizens require a TRV, an exception being a TRP issued at a port of entry to overcome the lack of a TRV and for which authorization to re-enter has been granted by a CBSA officer; and
    • They have a TRP that allows re-entry to Canada

If they do not comply with IRPA or the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), or their circumstances change, they may have their TRP cancelled, have an inadmissibility report written up, a removal order issued, or any combination of these possible actions.


Visitor Record

We briefly mentioned a visitor record when we talked about a TRV, but let’s go back to it. A visitor record is a document used to either extend or restrict your stay in Canada and can be issued by the CBSA or IRCC. If issued, it will contain a new expiry date for your stay in Canada.

In order to extend the duration of your stay, you must apply for a visitor record. Whether you used a TRV, eTA, or a valid passport or travel document to enter Canada is not relevant. You may apply for a visitor record if you want to extend your stay as a visitor or change your permit type from either a study permit to a visitor record or a work permit to a visitor record. 

If you want to stay in Canada for longer than six months, you will need to let the CBSA officer know at the port of entry. However, you may also apply to get a visitor record if you’re already in Canada and you decide you want to stay longer. If you’re already in Canada and want to apply for a visitor record to extend your stay, you must do so 30 days before your stay expires. To find the expiry date for your status, you can refer to the stamp in your passport, your study permit, your work permit, or your visitor record (if you have already extended your stay). If there is no stamp in your passport, the expiry date of your visitor status will be 6 months after the date you entered Canada.

You can apply online for a visitor record, but you can submit a paper application if you are unable to apply online because of a disability or if there’s an issue with the online application. If your status in Canada expires after you have applied for a visitor record, you can stay in Canada until a decision is made on your application. This is called implied status. It is important to remember that a visitor record is not a visa.

A visitor record allows you to stay longer, but it does not guarantee that you can leave and re-enter Canada. If you decide to travel outside Canada, you must meet the requirements to re-enter. If you are from a visa-required country, you will need a valid visitor visa each time you want to enter Canada, unless you are returning directly from the United States or Saint-Pierre and Miquelon by land. If you are from a visa-exempt country, the documents you will need to re-enter Canada depend on your method of travel. Travel by air to a Canadian airport requires an eTA and a passport linked with the eTA. Travel by bus, train, or boat requires a valid passport or travel document.

Conclusion

To briefly recap, a TRV allows an individual to travel to Canada but does not allow them to enter Canada. They will need either an eTA or a TRV to travel to Canada, but not both. At the Port of Entry, they must prove that they meet the requirements and that they will leave at the end of their stay. A TRP can be issued to someone who is otherwise inadmissible to enter Canada, but an officer must balance their need to enter Canada with the health and security of Canadians. A TRP does provide greater privileges over a TRV, and officers should consider alternatives before issuing a TRP. Lastly, a visitor record can allow an individual to extend their stay in Canada, but it is not a visa. It allows an individual to stay longer but does not guarantee that they can leave and re-enter Canada.

We know that all of these acronyms can be confusing, but we hope this cleared up any confusion surrounding the TRV, TRP, and Visitor Records and how they are used within the Canadian Immigration System context. Each document serves a different purpose, and it’s important to understand the differences between them. There are specific circumstances that they can be used in, and it can be confusing when you read about them for the first time.

Should you have any questions about which temporary visa is right for you or are ready to dive into getting a Second Passport to Canada, feel free to reach out to us and we will surely get you started to understand the options that are available to you!


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