TRV for UK spouse visiting in Canada on an ETA.


New Member
I am having a massively difficult time finding clear info online. My husband (UK citizen) is visiting on an eTA right now. It is only good for 6 months at a time. We want him to live here for 1.5-2 years and also be able to work. A temporary visa seems the most appropriate as it allows living here for up to 3 years and makes him eligible to apply for an open work permit. The problem is, the visa application will not allow us to complete it towards this end. If we put "visit" as our intention, It says to select Canada if he is currently here, but won't give an option for TRV if we select that. We have tried options for changing status etc for his visit status, any number of combinations - none offer a TRV option. If we put Scotland, it only gives an option for family sponsorship (PRV). If we put move here, it says we cannot select temporary visit and it has to be PR. The Canadian government website explicitly states you must be outside Canada to complete an application for a TRV yet there's a form I found dated 2020 from another government page with the form titled "temporary resident visa (in Canada application). There is very unclear information scattered all over the IRCC website that does not align with what's available or possible through using their forms in an online application.

This is what we want to achieve:
UK citizen visiting on an eTA (good for up to 6 months at a time, no eligibility for work permit)

We would like for him to be eligible to apply for an open work permit (where he can find employment without having his visit status associated with it)

We only want to live in Canada for the next two years as a maximum, with intention to move to the UK together at that point

A TRV seems the most obvious option as it allows him to stay up to 3 years and eligible for work permit.
A PR is super involved and also like 3x the cost.

How does a person achieve what we're looking for? You can't get a hold of a soul at any offices with IRCC, visa application centers.

Desperately needing help!

Thank you to anyone that can give advice from personal experience or expertise on the subject!

Riley Haas

Staff member
Hi, let me try to clear up the confusion.

A "visa" is a travel document, i.e. it is permission to travel to Canada. Your husband is not eligible for a temporary resident visa for two reasons, one of which is that he is already legally in Canada. (The other reason is because is British and does not require one normally, as he can apply for an ETA, as he has already done.)

Nobody can live here on visitor status for "up to 3 years". It's up to 6 months at a time. Before the end of those six months he has to leave (driving to the US, in normal times, counts as leaving). When he is readmitted the CBSA officer will decide how many months the next time; it could be 6, it could be 3, it could be 1. (There was an informal formula a number of years ago regarding this: 6 months the first time, 3 months the second time, 1 month the third time, and then no entry the fourth time, if that entry was within a short enough time of the first entry. I haven't been able to confirm this is still a practice.)

Your husband is only eligible for an open work permit if a) he is young enough for International Experience Canada or your status is also temporary (worker/student). If you are a citizen or PR, the only way your husband would be eligible for an open work permit is for you to sponsor him for PR.

If you did sponsor him for PR, there's no obligation to stay here permanently. He can renounce his PR when you move to the UK. But if he wants to work here without PR he will have to apply for a work permit with a valid Canadian job offer like everyone else.

Does this make sense?