Temporary residents often get confused between the terms Visa and Permit. While in many other countries the words “visa” and “permit” are used interchangeably, in Canada, these are two very different things. Many new international students, work permit holders, and visitors have this question and this blog post is intended to explain the difference between the two in simple terminology.
A Visa is a stamp on your passport, that will allow you to board a flight to Canada. When a person has been approved a visa, their passport is affixed a counterfoil which states the expiry date of the visa. This expiry date is the last date until which you can legally enter Canada by any mode- plane, car, bus, train, or cruise ship. It does not define in any way until when you can stay in Canada.
A Permit, on the other hand, defines for you, the duration until which you have legal authorization to stay in Canada. It also defines what you are authorized to do while you are here. A student/ work visa holder can stay in Canada as long as their study/ work permit is valid, and study/ work respectively, based on the conditions of their permit.
Simply put, the difference is, if you are in Canada, and your visa expires- it does not make you illegal in Canada. However, if you are in Canada, and your permit expires or becomes invalid, your status expires, and any day of your stay in Canada post that, is considered an unauthorized stay.
A visitor visiting Canada, unless otherwise specified by the CBSA officer meeting them at the port of entry, can stay in Canada up to six months legally, despite the visa expiry date on the passport- without the need of any kind of a permit. There are no Permits for visitors in Canada, however, if a visitor seeks to extend their stay in Canada, beyond their initial authorized say of say six months, they must apply for a Visitor Record, before the expiry of their initial authorized stay.
For any clarities or questions on your stay, or how to extend your stay in Canada, visit Immigrate Now
If your status has expired and would like to know the ways to restore your status, read our post on Restoring your Status in Canada or contact us.
If you are unsure about whether or not your Study Permit is valid after completion of your Canadian Education, read our post on Study Permit Validity or contact us.