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Temporary Residency – Immigrating to Canada

Temporary residency is applicable to individuals who require entry to Canada for a temporary purpose, and do not have Canadian citizenship, nor are permanent residents. Individuals within this residency category may include international students, foreign workers and tourists, along with varying exceptions.

For alternative ways to immigrate to Canada, you should read our post on “Immigrating to Canada“. Given how complex an immigration application can be, you may want to consider using an immigration attorney. If so, you should read our article on “Hiring an Immigration Attorney“.

Types of Temporary Residence in Canada

Most travelers require a visitors visa and/or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) in order to travel in Canada. You may also need a visa if you are transiting through a Canadian airport on your may to your final destination. However, citizens of the United States do not need either to travel to Canada.


  • Almost all foreign workers looking to perform work in Canada are required to obtain a temporary work permit, though there are some exemptions. Canada will allow the foreign worker to work in Canada during the period for which the work permit is valid.
  • The Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program is a Canadian immigration option which allows individuals who are neither a Canadian citizen nor a permanent resident, to work in Canada in positions that are facing labour shortages and are unfilled by Canadians.
  • A Post-Graduate work permit can be obtained by graduates of Canadian academic programs; applicants must have previously had a Canada study permit, and their program must have lasted at least eight months in duration. Canada will issue the work permit for the same period of validity as the previous study permit.
  • The Working Holiday visa program is designed for youth seeking Canadian work experience. This visa does not require a job offer and can be valid for up to 2 years.
    An Open Work Permit for the Spouse or common-law partner of a Foreign Student may be obtained under conditional circumstances, providing the opportunity for employment that is not tied to a specific employer, or study at any Canadian educational institution.


  • You can apply for a Canadian Study Permit if you have been accepted at a recognized Canadian school, university or college.

Application Requirements for Temporary Residency

First time applications will need to be completed outside of Canada, usually in country of citizenship.

Work Permit

  • You are typically required to have a job offer.
  • A labour market verification is usually also required; known as a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Once an employer wishing to hire a foreign worker obtains a verified LMO the individual may apply for a Canadian work visa.
  • Certain categories of Canada work visas do not require an LMIA.  This is generally based on reciprocal treaties, the transfer of senior employees, or individuals who have been preliminary selected for Canadian permanent residence but have not yet received their visa.
  • Importantly, a foreign national must also be able to provide proof of credentials to perform the job in Canada. If the position is one of Canada’s regulated occupations, the foreign worker must be certified to practice their profession in Canada before they apply for their Canada work visa.
  • Lastly, the relevant applications with accompanying documents would need to be submitted for processing in order the gain a Canada work visa.

Study Permit

  • You can apply for a Canadian study permit after being accepted at a recognized Canadian school, university or college. Once you obtain the letter of acceptance, there are only a few additional documents which are required, these include:
  • A letter of acceptance from a recognized Canadian educational institution
  • Valid passport for the principal applicant and their accompanying dependent family members
  • Evidence that you will be able to financially support yourself and accompanying dependents for the duration of your studies in Canada. You will have to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to cover:
    • Your tuition fees
    • Any expenses relating to living in Canada – including food, rent, transportation etc.
    • Your return back to your country of citizenship at the expiration of your Canada study permit

Temporary Resident Visa (TRV)

  • Also referred to as a Visitors visa, applicants must have clear intentions of only entering Canada for holiday (vacation) purposes, to visit family, or to conduct business. Accepted visitors will be restricted with regard to length of stay, and subject to various conditions.
  • The requirement for this form of visa may also be applicable to persons who are transiting in Canada.
  • If you do not require a visa to enter Canada, you may require an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Find out if you need an eTA.
  • All foreign nationals must meet the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to be admissible to Canada.
  • Upon arrival at a Canadian port of entry, the foreign national must report to the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA).
  • Holding a TRV does not guarantee entry to Canada. The admission of foreign nationals into Canada as temporary residents is a privilege, not a right.

Rights of Canadian Temporary Residents


    • Students
      • Foreign national students in Canada are normally required to find private medical coverage; this can be a requirement in order to stay enrolled. Some universities may arrange for coverage through their own providers; however, this is typically only applicable for full-time students during the school year.
      • Eligibility requirements for this type of healthcare coverage usually includes being aged under 65 under and being neither a Canadian citizen or a permanent immigrant.
      • Coverage for spouse and children can also be obtained.
    • Foreign workers
      • The Canadian government requires companies to ensure their employees are covered by a health insurance plan. Once arrived in Canada, foreign workers can apply for provincial/ territorial healthcare but there may be wait times for up to three months before you are covered.
      • Even if individuals maintain a health plan from country of origin, it may only cover a portion of medical costs in Canada, requiring additional payment of extra fees. To avoid this, obtaining a Canadian travelers emergency medical insurance plan will help make sure you won’t have to pay extra for access to medical care.

Workplace Rights

    • For the protection of all workers, an employment contract should be signed; this forges a legal document containing the terms and conditions of work which both the employer and employee have agreed to.
    • All workers in Canada have the right to a safe workplace, with laws of protection against unsafe conditions.
    • By law, employers must: pay you for your work; ensure the workplace is safe; allow break times and days off; and respect the terms of your written contract.
    • By law, your employer cannot: force you to perform duties that you were not hired or trained to do; force you to work if you are sick or injured; take your passport or work permit away from you; have you deported from Canada or change your immigration status; or make you pay them back for fees they paid to hire you.
    • Foreign workers have the right to change employers without penalization or deportation threats; however, allocated work permits may only be valid for employment of the current employer. As such, workers may need to obtain permission by the Canadian government in order to change employers (n.b. workers under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program do not need to get a new work permit if they change employers).
    • Additional laws set out by the Canadian government in order to protect workers may depend on where you work in Canada. If you have questions about the laws that apply to you, you should contact the employment standards office in the province or territory where you are working.