How to change from a Visitor Visa to a Work or Study Permit in Canada.

The first thing to note is that a visitor visa ALONE is not a permanent relocation visa. So, it’s important to be sure you have what it takes to change your status while visiting Canada.

I am increasingly getting questions from those who have a Canada Visitor Visa and looking for options to change that to another status while visiting. The intention is to use this to stay back in Canada legally and perhaps become a permanent resident or citizen eventually.

Note that while Canada allows you to apply for another status while visiting, there are requirements to meet. Let’s talk about that.

1) Visitor Visa to Work Permit

Those on a Visitor Visa can apply for a work permit (after getting an eligible job). The temporary policy allowing this has been extended to February 28, 2025. You can read more about this here.

To do this, a Visitor must:

  • have a valid visitor status
  • have a valid job offer (mostly supported by LMIA from an employer), or a job exempted from LMIA listed here
  • apply for an employer-specific work permit.

What this means is that if you are a visitor in Canada, you cannot legally work with that Visitor Visa ALONE. You must first get a valid job offer, get the LMIA you will likely need through the employer, apply for, and get a work permit.

Take note of this and plan accordingly.

The Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is what will show that there is a need for a foreign worker OUTSIDE Canada to fill the job. It will show that no Canadian worker is available to do the job after the job has been advertised for some time.

The process of getting an LMIA is possible, but as you may already be thinking, it is not an easy hurdle to cross. It is difficult, although not impossible. Details available here

SGRC Job FairPutting their skills

If you and the employer then cross this hurdle, the employer wishing to hire you as a temporary foreign worker will then pay a processing fee of $1,000 CAD for the LMIA request, and a “privilege fee” of $100 CAD. Once you have the LMIA, you can then apply for a work visa.

It is important to note that, it is the employer that must pay the $1,100 for the LMIA. An employer can also not charge the applicant for a job offer. It is against the law. So, if someone is telling you (as the employee) to bring money for a job offer and LMIA in Canada, I will urge you to really proceed with caution.

After getting your valid job offer and other necessary documents like the LMIA from your employer, you can then apply for your work permit from Canada (without leaving the country).

2) Visitor Visa to Study Permit

Those on a Visitor Visa can also apply for a study permit while visiting Canada.

To do this, a Visitor must

  • Have a valid visitor status
  • Have an admission and acceptance letter from a Designated Learning Institution
  • Apply for a study visa online.

You will find a detailed post on how to apply for a study visa online in the link here.

What this means is that applying for a Study Visa while visiting Canada is similar to applying from outside Canada. The process is not any different whether you apply for your study visa inside Canada or outside Canada.

You must still apply for the study visa online on the IRCC portal, and after your approval, you will then present yourself at a Port of Entry to get a Study Permit.

After your online study visa application has been approved, you will be required to send your passport for a study visa to be attached to the passport. After that, you can then either exit and re-enter Canada by air and present yourself as a new student (for a study permit to be issued). Or go to a land border (between USA & Canada) to get the study permit through flagpoling.

All information you need to apply for admission, scholarships, and a visa in Canada can be found in the compiled resources. It’s a Do It Yourself (DIY) community.

It is important to note these requirements so you can prepare ahead and plan right before making the decision to immigrate on a Visitor Visa.

The length of stay as a Visitor is also expected to be for a maximum of 6 months (each time you visit).

So, keep this in mind and plan accordingly.

Lastly, if you are Visiting Canada as the Spouse of a student (who is doing a program eligible for Post Graduate Work Permit – PGWP). If you are the Spouse of an International Graduate who is already on a PGWP, or you are the Spouse of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you have an exemption.

Spouses of International Students who are doing a program that is eligible for PGWP, or who already have the PGWP, or spouses of Canadian citizens and permanent residents do not need a job offer/LMIA to get their own Spousal Open Work Permit.

NB: The posts and information on this website are not legal advice.

One Reply to “How to change from a Visitor Visa to a Work or Study Permit in Canada.”

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