Expiring Passports and applying for immigration. What to do?


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Mary Keyork

BARRISTER & SOLICITOR - CERTIFIED SPECIALIST IN CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION LAW at Canada Immigration Alliance
Mary Keyork provides Immigration Law services for hundreds of immigration applications in all categories and has appeared before all three divisions of the Immigration and Refugee Board as well as at the Federal Court of Canada, successfully representing clients in complex immigration applications and hearings.
Mary Keyork
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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.

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