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Dual Intent: Coming to Canada Before Permanent Residence

‘Dual intent’ refers to individuals who are awaiting a decision on their application for Canadian permanent residence, who also wish to apply for a temporary visa to Canada. The applicant has intent to live in Canada permanently, over the long-term, but they also have intent to to visit Canada temporaily, in the short-term.  The conditions that applicants must meet to visit Canada temporarily often directly contradict the conditions they must meet to immigrate permanently. In order to get both, the individual needs to prove they have dual intent.


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To clarify, let’s review Canadian visas. Generally speaking, Canadian visas can be divided into two broad categories: temporary visas and permanent visas.

Temporary Visas

Unless you are a citizen of a visa-exempt country, or a lawful permanent resident of the United States with a valid Green Card, you must apply for a temporary visa in order to visit Canada. In order to be granted a temporary visa, you must prove that you intend to leave the country at the end of your visa.

Permanent Residence Visas

If you are applying for a permanent residence visa, then you must prove that you intend to stay in Canada permanently.

Dual Intent

Although it might seem contradictory, individuals are able to apply for, and be granted, both a temporary visa and a permanent residence visa as long as they can prove that they have dual intent.

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website states:

“An intention by a foreign national to become a permanent resident does not preclude them from becoming a temporary resident if the [visa] officer is satisfied that they will leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay.

When deciding whether or not to issue a temporary visa, visa officers must assess whether the applicant has the genuine intent to leave the country upon the expiration of their visa. Even if the applicant has an ongoing application for permanent residence, the visa officer may grant a temporary visa if they are convinced that the applicant will respect the terms on which the temporary visa is issued.

In the event that the applicant is not able to convince the visa officer that their dual intent is genuine, the visa officer may refuse the temporary visa application. In these types of cases, the visa officer might suspect that the applicant is only applying for a temporary visa in order to live, work, or study in Canada while their application for permanent residence is processed. Therefore, they have no intent to leave the country when their temporary visa expires. Being refused for a temporary visa does not mean that the applicant’s permanent residence visa will be refused.

International Students

Student visas are temporary visas. Foreign nationals who wish to study in Canada must convince the visa officer that they intend to respect the conditions of a temporary visa. Namely, that they intend to leave the country at the expiry of their student visa.

However, the federal government of Canada has an interest in retaining international students following the completion of their studies. Programs like the Post-Graduation Work Permit and the new ‘Canadian Educational Credentials’ component of Express Entry are designed and promoted to make it easier for international students to remain in Canada once their program of study is completed. This would seem to directly contradict the conditions that international students must meet in order to be issued a student visa.

This is a common example of where dual intent applies. When applying for a study permit, the foreign national must clearly demonstrate that he or she intends to respect the requirement that study permit holders leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay. That foreign national’s desire to apply for permanent residence before or during the period of study in Canada does not automatically preclude them from being issued a temporary visa, as long as they meet this condition.

Visa officers must distinguish between applicants who hold genuine dual intent and those who have no intention of leaving Canada if the application for permanent residence is refused. It’s up to the applicant to convince the visa officer that they have dual intent.

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The Canadim Team!

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