Expiring Passports and applying for immigration. What to do?

expiring passport

Mary Keyork
Follow Me

My passport is expiring, and I am about to apply for immigration status. What should I do?

We strongly recommend that you extend your passport if it is due to expire in the next six months and you have plans to travel to Canada, make an application for Canadian temporary resident status or extend your status.
As a general rule, immigration officers can only issue status documents for the length of validity of an applicant’s passport at a maximum.

Visa-Exempt Foreign Nationals

If you are visa-exempt (i.e., do not need a Temporary Resident Visa to travel to Canada) you are eligible to make an application for temporary residence at a Canadian port-of-entry. There is no rule that prohibits you from entering if your passport is not valid for at least six months; however, timing is important because your status will be limited to the duration of your passport, at a maximum.

Consider an example: Marwa is visa-exempt, and she is planning to enter Canada as a visitor. Her passport is expiring in 30 days, and she wants to stay in Canada and travel the country for three months. With her current passport, Marwa will only be granted visitor status for 30 days at the most. If she wants to stay in Canada longer, she must either renew her passport before she enters or obtains a new passport before her temporary status expires and then apply to extend her status with her new passport from inside Canada. If she does not do either of these, Marwa will have to leave Canada in 30 days.

Don’t forget – most visa-exempt foreign nationals need an Electronic Travel Authorization (“eTA”) to travel to Canada. Your eTA is linked to your passport electronically. Whenever you obtain a new passport, you need to apply for a new eTA.

Non-Visa-Exempt Foreign Nationals (Applications Made Outside of Canada)

If you are applying for temporary status from outside of Canada, we suggest that you have a passport with at least six months validity before you submit your passport for visa issuance.

Non-visa-exempt foreign nationals need a Temporary Resident Visa (“TRV”) to travel to Canada. TRVs are issued for the duration of a valid passport, at a maximum, and foreign nationals cannot enter Canada once the TRV expires. It is therefore important to ensure that your passport is valid on the date that you wish to enter Canada, and ideally for the entire duration of your intended stay in Canada. If your passport expires before you intend to exit Canada, you will have to apply to extend your temporary status once a new passport is received.

Let’s look at an example: Shelley has a Canadian job offer and meets all of the requirements for the worker class. She is planning on coming to Canada as a worker for two years. Shelley needs a TRV to travel to Canada and will be applying at the visa office in her home country. Shelley submits her work permit application and, when it is approved, she mails her passport to the visa office for TRV stamping. When she receives her passport back, she notices that the TRV is only valid for the next 60 days. This is because Shelley’s passport expires in 60 days and the visa office could not extend the TRV past the validity of her passport. Shelley has two options: she must enter Canada, obtain a new passport and extend her work permit all within the next 60 days; or, she will have to apply for a new passport before she travels and then submit an application for a work permit and TRV from outside of Canada again in order to get a two year TRV.

Non-visa-exempt foreign nationals who extend their status from inside Canada should note that there are two applications required to extend temporary status. In Shelley’s case, she would need to first apply to extend her work permit and then, once that application was approved, she would need to apply to obtain a new TRV. This includes mailing a valid passport to an office inside Canada.

This process should be carefully timed to ensure that temporary status is maintained and travel plans are not interrupted while applicants are without their passport.

Family Members Included in an Application

The information above also applies to family members included in an application. If your spouse or child is accompanying you to Canada and their passport expires before yours, their status will be limited to the validity of their passport at a maximum. This may mean that, once your spouse or child’s passport is renewed, you will need to submit an extension application for them before you extend your status to ensure they are legally authorized to remain in Canada with you.

Permanent resident applicants

Once you are approved for permanent residence, you will need a valid passport to complete the landing process and officially become a Canadian permanent resident.

For non-visa-exempt foreign nationals, you will receive a permanent resident (“PR”) visa in your passport when your application is approved, along with your Confirmation of Permanent Residence “CoPR”). Like a TRV, your PR visa will only be issued to the validity of your passport at a maximum. You will have to enter Canada to validate your CoPR on or before that date. If your PR visa expires and you do not complete the landing process in time, you will have to apply all over again.

Visa-exempt foreign nationals who do not require a PR visa to complete the landing process still need a valid passport at the time of landing.

CoPRs also have an expiry date, and you must ensure that you can complete your landing with a valid passport on or before that date.

Can I extend my status at a port of entry using flagpoling?


Mary Keyork
Follow Me

My status is expiring. Can I flagpole and extend my status at a port-of-entry?

Applications to extend visitor records, study permits and work permits should be made in Canada prior to expiry. However, in some circumstances, foreign nationals who are visa-exempt can apply at a port-of-entry for a new visitor record, study permit or work permit.

Visa-exempt foreign nationals are individuals from countries that do not need a visitor visa to enter Canada. The list of countries that fall into this category can be found on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada site here: List of Visa-Exempt Countries.


Flagpoling refers to the process of leaving Canada to travel to the United States (or St. Pierre & Miquelon) and then quickly returning to make an application for temporary Canadian status at a port-of-entry. Sometimes, this is done immediately and individuals will drive to a Canada-US border crossing, turn around, and drive back through to make an application. A lot of people will even walk through the border crossing and back because it is quicker than lining up with the vehicles. Individuals who need to validate their Confirmation of Permanent Residence can flagpole too.

Why do people choose to flagpole? It can be a quicker option, avoiding long application processing times or the need to make an inland appointment with an immigration officer. People who have waited too long to extend their documents and have urgent upcoming travel needs might choose to flagpole instead of waiting for an application to be processed, which can take up to four months or longer.

While flagpoling is a legal practice, it carries risks and is frowned upon by border officers, especially when it is used to extend work permits. Before 2017, flagpoling was allowed at any day and time. Since the summer of 2017, the Canada Border Services Agency has restricted access to flagpoling at some border crossings in an effort to discourage the practice and limit the amount of time that their officers are dealing with issuing documents during peak crossing periods. Now, foreign nationals seeking to flagpole can only do so on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at some crossings. If you show up to flagpole from Friday to Monday, you will likely be turned away. This applies to the Queenston, Niagara Falls, Rainbow Bridge and Fort Erie (Peace Bridge) crossings.

Often, border officers encourage individuals to re-enter Canada and apply to extend their work permit online or on paper if there is still some validity left on the applicant’s work permit. In cases where an individual did apply from inside Canada to extend a work permit but they need to travel before a decision is received, an officer may use their discretion to issue a new work permit on re-entry or they could ask the applicant to enter Canada and wait for processing.

Who can apply at a port-of-entry?

If you are from a visa-exempt country, you may be eligible to make an application for a work permit, study permit or visitor record at a Canadian port-of-entry, if you have all of the required documentation. It is important to note that if your application is refused, you may not be granted entry to Canada or may be required to leave Canada within a short period of time (i.e. within 24 or 48 hours).

Individuals who want to apply for a visitor record, study permit or work permit can only do so at a port-of-entry if they are:

1. Visa-exempt foreign nationals seeking entry as a temporary resident;
2. Visa-exempt foreign nationals who meet the requirements to obtain a study permit;
3. Visa-exempt foreign nationals whose jobs do not require an LMIA; or
4. Visa-exempt foreign nationals who have a positive LMIA; or
5. Visa-exempt foreign nationals who want to confirm their permanent resident status document.

For those seeking entry as students or workers, make sure a medical has been completed, if required, well in advance of entry.

Don’t forget that you may also need an electronic travel authorization (“eTA”) if you are visa-exempt. See our previous blog post on eTAs for more information.

Foreign nationals who need a temporary resident visa to enter Canada, but do not have a valid temporary resident visa, are exempted from the requirement to obtain a new visa under very limited circumstances, specifically, if they are seeking entry to Canada and:

1. Are returning from a visit to only the US or St. Pierre & Miquelon; and
2. Have a valid study or work permit that they held before they left Canada; or
3. Are validating their new permanent resident status.

Foreign nationals under this category have to re-enter Canada before their temporary status expires or they will not qualify for this special exemption and will likely be refused entry. Also, if an individual who requires a temporary resident visa leaves Canada and travels to a destination other than the US or St Pierre & Miquelon, they can no longer qualify for this exemption and will not be able to apply for a visitor record, study permit or work permit, nor confirm their permanent resident status when they return to Canada.

Maintaining Valid Status Documents

Ultimately, the best thing to do is to apply well in advance to extend your status documents so that you can avoid any interruptions if you need to travel outside of Canada while your extension is being processed. We suggest filing extension applications several months before the date your document will expire, if possible.

If you are considering flagpoling and are concerned about maintaining your status, our firm can assist you in the best strategy and prepare you for what may happen during a trip to the border.



eTA- What is it and who needs it?

Electronic Travel Authorization

Photo by Brian Mcfarlane

Mary Keyork
Follow Me

Electronic Travel Authorization – What Is It and Who Needs It?

An Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is an electronic travel document that you may need if you are a citizen from one of more than 50 visa-exempt countries traveling to Canada to visit, or transiting through, by air. Essentially, if you do not need a visa to travel to Canada and you are not a US citizen, then you need an eTA before you fly. If you are traveling by land or sea, you do not need an eTA.

Airlines may refuse to let you board a plane to Canada if you have not obtained an eTA.

The eTA requirement has been in effect since November 2016, with updates in May 2017, but many travelers still are not aware that they need it, or how to obtain it.

Canadian Permanent Residents, US Citizens, and Dual-Canadian Citizens

Canadian permanent residents do not need an eTA but should always travel with their permanent resident card or travel document or they risk not being allowed to re-enter Canada.

If you are a US citizen, you do not need to get an eTA to board a flight to Canada. US permanent residents (i.e. green card holders); however, still need to get an eTA until they obtain a green card.

Canadians with dual citizenship will face difficulty re-entering Canada unless they show a Canadian passport. The eTA is linked to the traveler’s passport, so, if you hold two passports, did not get an eTA because you are a citizen and decide to travel with your EU passport, then you could run into issues. As a guideline, Canadian citizens should always use their Canadian passport as their travel document when re-entering Canada. Don’t have a Canadian passport? You will need to get one before you travel.

Brazilian, Bulgarian and Romanian Nationals with US Nonimmigrant Status

Updates were made to the eTA rules in May 2017. The new rules cover Brazilian, Bulgarian and Romanian nationals and allow them to apply for eTAs if they:

• Have had a Canadian temporary resident visa in the last 10 years (counted from the date they make their application, not from the date the rule came into effect); and
• Have a valid US nonimmigrant (NIV) visa when the eTA application is submitted.
If nationals from these three countries do not meet these requirements, they still need a temporary resident visa before visiting Canada.

How to Obtain an eTA

The good news is, the process is fairly simple for most people. You can easily go to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website, fill out an online form and pay a nominal fee to apply.

Most applicants receive their eTA approval within the same business day. In other cases, additional review and processing may be required and delays can be experienced. This is why it is important to apply in advance to make sure that you are not stuck without one on your travel date.

Once issued, your eTA is linked to the passport you used to apply, so there is no need to print anything or bring anything extra in your carry-on. The eTA is electronically linked, so there is no need to mail in your passport.
If approved, you will get a confirmation email. If further screening is needed, an officer will contact you to let you know what additional documents they may need and the process to submit them. If your application is refused, the reasons will be emailed to you.

Workers and Students

Only visa-exempt visitors need to apply for an eTA. If you apply for a work or study permit, an eTA will be automatically included, or linked, to your status document.

With one exception – if you applied for your work or study permit before August 1, 2015, and you have not received an extension since, then you will need to apply online for an eTA because the program was not yet in effect.

Passport and eTA Expiry

It is important to note that your eTA will be linked to your passport. So, if your passport expires, so does your eTA. Whenever you renew your passport, make sure you go back online and reapply for your eTA so it is up to date and always linked.

Otherwise, eTAs expire five years after they are issued and need to be renewed once they expire.


Do you always need a lawyer to submit an immigration application?

immigration lawyer
Mary Keyork
Follow Me

In short, no you don’t. A lot of people decide to handle their immigration application process on their own. It really depends on the type of person you are and if you like doing paper work!

However, there are so many benefits to hiring an immigration lawyer. For example, the likelihood of your application being denied is significantly reduced simply because you’re hiring a professional who understands the entire legal process, from what words to use, how to write things, what supporting documents you need or should include (even if it’s not written on any website/document check list.)

The biggest benefit in having an immigration lawyer is less stress. You don’t have to worry that you forgot to send in one of the oh so many forms or documents required. You don’t have to worry that you filled in the wrong section of an application or that you filled out the wrong application altogether. That’s what your lawyer is for! Immigration application forms can be extremely confusing and are constantly changing!

Now, here’s where a lot of people get discouraged. Most law firms do charge a consultation fee. And it’s usually between $150-$300 for an hour depending on the firm and the level of expertise. But this fee is usually deducted from the over all legal fees if you decide to hire the firm – most immigration law firms have this policy. So it’s not a waste of money since you’re not only getting valuable information that can change your future, but you’re also putting a deposit on your lawyer.

In the grand scheme of things, although looking for and hiring the right lawyer might seem overwhelming and confusing at times, working with a qualified and experienced immigration lawyer can exponentially change the outcome of your immigration application.

I want to move to Canada. Is it possible?

Moving to Canada

Nancy Elliott
Follow me

I want to move to Canada. Is it possible?


As the dust settles after the hard-fought US presidential battle, many Americans are considering a move to Canada. Of course, threatening to go to Canada in exasperation is not the same thing as analyzing, planning and relocating, and many Americans do not know where to begin.

Here’s what to do:

1. Decide that you want to transfer
Consider all of the advantages and disadvantages of moving to Canada. It’s tough to leave home, and relocating can be both intimidating and exciting. Canada is a beautiful, clean and diverse country with sophisticated political and legal systems, universal healthcare, advanced technology infrastructure and world-class education. Research employment, business and investment opportunities, taxation, housing and education, and consider where you would like to live. For example, the climate is warmer in Vancouver, but Toronto is Canada’s centre of commerce.

2. Consider the time frame
Maybe you are ready to move tomorrow, but your kids have just started a new school year. Obtaining permanent residence (a Canadian green card) can take many months and often over a year. Perhaps you are qualified for a work permit that could allow you to relocate within weeks or months. Which would work better for you?

3. Get proper advice
Canadian immigration law can seem daunting, as there are many different categories with specific requirements. We can assess your situation and provide you with the best solution to successfully immigrate or work in Canada.

4. Apply
Many work permit applications can be made right at the Canadian border. Others require prior approval and consideration at a Canadian Embassy or Consulate in the United States. We can guide you through the process.

5. Move to Canada!
Get ready to begin your new life in Canada. Explore places to live, schools and communities.

So how can you successfully apply for residence in Canada?

Get a Work Permit

There are many different types of work permits available to US citizens. They include the following:

  • NAFTA professionals for a large variety of occupations, from scientists to management consultants – the catch is you need to find a job in your profession first.
  • Intra-company transferees – if your company has a parent, subsidiary or affiliate in Canada, you can be transferred provided you are a senior manager or possess specialized knowledge. Your business can even set up a new entity in Canada and send you up to get it started.
  • Owner/Operator – if you are self-employed or an entrepreneur, you can set up your own business in Canada provided you have a decent plan. This category requires careful consideration and planning.

Spouses of these types of work permit holders can also qualify for open work permits and look for employment in Canada. Kids can obtain study permits to go to school.

Often, work permit holders can qualify for permanent residence through one of the economic categories, which means that remaining in Canada permanently

Apply for Permanent Residence

You have probably heard that applications for permanent residence take quite a while to process. Applicants in the Express Entry system who are invited to apply can have their applications processed in six months, whereas self-employed applications can take years.

Canada’s Express Entry system allows applicants to apply through an electronic platform that assesses candidates according to a comprehensive ranking system. Those with higher scores are invited to apply and will have their applications quickly processed. The system allows applicants in various categories to apply, the most common program being the Federal Skilled Worker program.

  • Federal Skilled Worker – The program is based on a points system that considers an applicant’s education, experience, language ability, adaptability and whether there is a valid job offer.
  • Federal Skilled Trades – This program targets people in a variety of skilled trades, but requires them to have a minimum of English skills and a valid job offer or a certification of qualification from a province to apply.
  • Self-Employed – This category addresses athletes, actors, musicians, and others engaged in cultural activities which are either highly skilled or have significant self-employment experience. It is also open to experienced farmers who wish to operate a farm in Canada.
  • Start-up Visas – The Start-up Visa Program allows entrepreneurs to be fast-tracked for permanent residence if they can obtain financial support from a Canadian venture capital or angel fund, or from a business incubator. This underutilized program is very suitable for new and existing innovators and entrepreneurs.

Are you ready to get Started?

We have over two decades of experience handling all types of immigration applications and have a broad understanding of Canada’s immigration and citizenship laws and procedures.

We can expertly guide you through the process and assist you to plan your new life in Canada.

Criminal Rehabilitation: Can I Enter Canada If I Have A DUI Conviction?

If your DUI conviction is recent and even if you have completed the sentence imposed, you are considered inadmissible to Canada. However, you may still be able to enter Canada by applying for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). This TRP allows you to enter Canada temporarily. You will need to submit a number of documents to the border officer. The officer at the border has high discretion to issue the TRP or not. It is important that the TRP application is prepared adequately as a refusal will complicate all your future entries to Canada.
In some cases, as a DUI conviction was long ago, you may be eligible to apply for a Criminal Rehabilitation. Once you have been criminally rehabilitated, you will no longer need to apply for a TRP.
Criminal convictions have various sentences and depending on your personal circumstances, you may or may not be eligible for a TRP or Criminal Rehabilitation.

How Do I Overcome My Criminal Inadmissibility?

Certain convictions will render visitors to Canada criminally inadmissible. Allowing visitors with criminality entry to Canada will depend on when the sentence was completed as well as the type of conviction. Many visitors travel back and forth to Canada without disclosing their criminal history and this is not recommended. Regardless of the level of criminality, all convictions should be disclosed to border officers. At any given point, a border official may ask you questions about your criminal background. The proper way to visit Canada while having a criminal history is to have the conviction assessed by an immigration lawyer to determine whether a Temporary Resident Permit is required. With the passing of time, some applicants may no longer be criminally inadmissible A Temporary Resident Permit overcomes the criminal inadmissibility and allows entry to Canada for short period of times. An immigration lawyer will prepare a Temporary Resident Permit application for applicants to submit at the Canadian border for same day issuance.
If individuals visit Canada very frequently, a Temporary Resident Permit application can also be submitted at the Canadian Embassy or Consulate abroad. The processing time for this application is longer, however when issued, this Permit will be valid for a longer period of time. This will avoid applying for Temporary Resident Permits each and every time crossing the border. It is recommended to apply for both a Temporary Resident Permit at the border and at the Embassy or Consulate abroad simultaneously as border officers prefer to see this.
Finally, visitors who qualify can also submit a Criminal Rehabilitation application to the Canadian Embassy or Consulate abroad. Once a visitor is rehabilitated, a Temporary Resident Permit is no longer required to enter Canada. Again, immigration officers prefer to see the criminal rehabilitation application pending when making a decision on a Temporary Resident Permit.

Can I Invite My Parents To Visit Me In Canada?

How to invite your parents on a visitor visa to Canada

Yes, you can. If your parents’ country of citizenship is not visa exempt, they will need to apply for a Visitor Visa.

In order to obtain Visitor Visas, your parents will need to demonstrate that their stay in Canada will be temporary as well as sufficient funds to pay for the trip Canada. They must also demonstrate that they will return to their home country upon the expiration of their visitor status. An Immigration Officer will ultimately determine to issue the Visas. It is recommended to submit a complete application with strong supporting documents.

My Visitor Visa Was Refused, Can I Re-Apply?

Yes, you can always re-apply for a Visitor Visa. However, a re-application following a refusal is always a bit more complex given that this refusal remains on your history. Although an immigration officer may not simply refuse a Visitor Visa for the sole reason that you were refused in the past, this nonetheless affects your application. This is why is it important to submit a well prepared Visitor Visa application following a refusal with relevant supporting documentation.
To obtain a Visitor Visa, you need to demonstrate the reasons for your travel to Canada, sufficient funds for your trip as well as evidence that you will return to your home country upon expiration of your Visitor Status. There are many other factors that may positively or negatively affect your Visitor Visa application, and these must be adequately reflected in your request.

I Am A U.S. Citizen, Can I Live In Canada For One Year As A Visitor?

As a U.S. citizen, you do not need a visa prior to entering Canada. However, when you do enter Canada, you are allowed to remain in Canada for a period of 6 months as a visitor unless indicated otherwise by the  immigration officer. As a visitor, you are not able to engage in unauthorized work. If you wish to extend your stay, you must make an application to extend your visitor status. You must have a valid reason for the extension and you must demonstrate that you will be able to financially support yourself as well as your intention to return to the U.S.  upon the expiration of your visitor status. It is best to consult with an immigration lawyer if you are planning an extended stay, so that you do not experience complications upon application for an extension of your status.

Why Do I Suddenly Need A Visa To Come To Canada When I Didn’t Before?

Why you may need a Visa to enter Canada

The Government of Canada is continually revising its immigration policies and procedures in response to issues that come to its attention. As a result, the list of countries whose nationals need a visa to visit Canada can change at any time.
In mid-September 2012, the Government of Canada announced that citizens of Botswana, Namibia, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Swaziland will now need visas to visit Canada. The Government reports that these changes will help combat issues related to such things as the use of unreliable documents and disproportionate numbers of asylum seekers.
If you are planning to travel to Canada, we recommend that you regularly consult the Citizenship and Immigration Canada list of countries whose citizens require visas for entry (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp).

If you are a national of a country that requires a visa, our lawyers can assist you with a visa application.
If you would like our assistance, kindly contact us to set up a consultation and we would be happy to speak with you about the immigration process(es) that you might like to undertake.

Can I Apply To Extend My Visitor Visa While I Am In Canada On A Visit?

Yes, it is possible to apply to extend your status while you are in Canada as a visitor. An application should be made before the expiry of your valid visitor visa and the process and required forms are similar to that which you would have completed for your original visa.
If your visitor visa expires after you have applied to extend your stay, you will still be considered to have valid status as a visitor (also called implied status) until a decision is made regarding your application for an extension.
Once a decision is made, you will either receive notice of your approval for an extension and your new visitor visa expiry date or notification that your application has been denied. If your application is denied, you will be required to leave Canada as you will no longer have authorization to be in the country.
Our office is skilled at compiling strong applications packages for all types of immigration matters. If you would like assistance in applying to extend your visit in Canada, please feel free to contact us to make an appointment to speak with a lawyer.

I Have Applied For Visitor Visas On Several Occasions And Each Time They Have Been Refused?

A refusal of a TRV application can be the result of many factors and each refusal is usually accompanied by a list of reasons or issues that caused the evaluating CIC officer to render a refusal. The officer’s primary concern is usually that an applicant will enter Canada, but then will not leave at the end of the visa.
If you have been refused several times, it may be in your best interest to have an experienced professional look at the reasons for the refusals and the documentation that you provided in your application. If you have presented strong, well-documented applications that have addressed the question of your bona fide intention to visit Canada temporarily, you may wish to consider the other legal avenues available to you, including requesting a judicial review.
Our lawyers are experienced in preparing comprehensive TRV applications and would be happy to review your applications and refusals and advise you on the options available to you.

Please feel free to schedule a consultation during which our lawyers will be able to discuss the specific details of your case with you.



How Many Times Can You Extend Your Visitor Status Within Canada?

I have been in Canada for 1.5 years as I was able to extend my visa twice. Could I try for a third visa extension form, or will it be automatically refused?

There is no statutory limit on the number of times a person can extend visitor status. Instead, the officer will consider the history of the applicant, the purpose of the visit, and whether there is a valid reason to continue visiting. The primary concern of the officer will be that the applicant intends to remain in Canada permanently, in which case the extension would not be granted. In some circumstances, numerous extensions can be granted as they make sense in the overall context. For example, where a parent seeks extensions while waiting for permanent residence. In other circumstances, there appears to be no valid reason to remain in Canada, and the officer will deny further extensions. It is important to get legal advice based on your specific, individual situation.

Permanent Residence Refusal: Will I Get A Refund for the application?

Generally speaking, no, there will not be a refund. However, if you applied prior to the recent legislative changes, you may be entitled to a refund, depending on when you applied, and the reason for the refusal. If you applied before February 27, 2008, the date the major changes to the immigration law took effect, your application will be processed.

You will not get a refund unless you choose to withdraw your application before it is processed. If you applied on or after February 27, 2008, and your application is not eligible for processing, you will get a full refund. If your application is eligible for processing, gets processed but is then refused, you will not get a refund.