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Does Canadian immigration law allow dual intent?

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Under the dual intent doctrine, a foreign national who has applied for permanent residence in Canada may also apply to enter Canada under a temporary visa, such as a visitor, student, or worker. In Canadian immigration law, the dual intent doctrine is available to all temporary visa types.

Under Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Section 22(2), an intention by a foreign national to become a permanent resident does not preclude them from obtaining a temporary resident status (e.g., worker, student, or otherwise) if the officer is satisfied they will leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay.  This means, even if you have a pending permanent residency application in progress, you may still apply to enter Canada as a visitor, worker, or student if you can show a genuine intent for temporary residence.

For example, in a spousal sponsorship application, a foreign national applicant may apply for a temporary resident visa (TRV), or visitor visa, to enter Canada while their permanent residency application is pending.  Applicants may provide evidence of retaining ties to their home countries and inform the officer what their plan is should their application for permanent residence be refused. If the applicant persuades the officer, on a balance of probabilities, that they will leave Canada by the end of their authorized period of stay if their permanent residency application is refused, they may be granted a visa.

Assessment of dual intent will take into account an applicant’s individual facts, such as the following:

  • The length of time the applicant applies to be spending in Canada;
  • The applicant’s means of support;
  • The applicant’s obligations and ties to their home country;
  • The applicant’s purpose and context of their stay;
  • The credibility of documents and information submitted; and
  • The applicant’s history of compliance with immigration laws in Canada and other countries.

Proving dual intent is often challenging, and the applicant must persuade the examining officer that their intent in applying for the temporary status is genuine for the purpose of the permit (e.g., to study, work, or visit), and is not simply for the purpose of living in the country while the permanent residency application is being processed.

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