How risky is it to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit at your Port of Entry when you arrive in Canada?
To answer that question, the first thing you have to understand about a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) is that it is NOT the same as a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV). A TRV is an official approved visa stamped in your passport that allows you to enter Canada on a temporary basis for one of 3 reasons:
- Work temporarily.
Please note that a Temporary Resident Visa is NOT a study permit or work permit and has to be obtained along with your study and/or work permit.
If you're looking for a mere visitor visa to Canada, a TRP is not for you.
Who should apply for a TRP?
So, we know what a TRP is not, but what is it in fact? As we have mentioned here at IMMIgroup, a TRP is for people who:
- Are considered inadmissible to Canada for a number of potential reasons, including
- Having a criminal record which can include relatively minor offenses like Driving under the influence (DUI) or more serious crimes;
- Having health problems which may be considered a risk to Canada;
- Having been involved with extremist activities or groups that promote violence;
- Having been involved in criminal groups or criminal activity;
- Having been involved in violations of human rights;
- Having provided false or inaccurate information to immigration authorities;
- Not having financial means to visit Canada without depending on government aid.
- Haven’t complied with some part of the IRPA (Immigration Refugee Protection Act) or IRPR (Immigration Refugee Protection Regulations). This may be a minor administrative error, or it may be something more serious.
In other words, a Temporary Resident Permit allows people to come to Canada who would normally not be allowed in due to inadmissibility - which essentially means you are seen as a burden or danger to Canada - or due to not complying with the requirements of the IRPA and/or IRPR. It is usually given because of the reasons you present for having to visit Canada, and because those reasons are seen as valid enough to outweigh concerns about your inadmissibility on the part of immigration officials.
As will be explained below, the reasons for your needing to visit Canada are balanced against the severity of the causes of your inadmissibility.
Applying for a TRP
There are two ways to apply for a TRP:
- At a Canadian Consulate overseas. (In the U.S. you can only apply through the consulates in Los Angeles or New York City.) This normally takes several months and can even take 6 months or longer depending on your particular case.
- At your Port of Entry (generally the airport you arrive at in Canada, but it could also be a border crossing or a port). This will normally result in a decision in a matter of hours which means that it’s a much faster way of getting your TRP.
However, while there may be occasions when you can successfully apply for a TRP at your Port of Entry (POE), beware. A TRP is entirely at the discretion of immigration officials and can be cancelled at any time. Applying for a TRP at your POE is a risky strategy that could find you being put on the next flight back to where you came from. Proceed with caution and at your own risk, as they say.
Still want to try applying for a TRP at your POE? Let’s see how good your chances are.
People who can’t apply for a TRP
If any of the following applies to you, then you should NOT bother applying for a TRP as it will be rejected out of hand. We’ll assume for all of these cases that you are abroad as we are assessing the feasibility of applying for a TRP when you arrive in Canada.
- If you are a failed refugee claimant for whom:
- It's been less than 12 months since your last claim for refugee protection with the RPD (Refugee Protection Division) was rejected, withdrawn, or abandoned, AND
- No appeal has been made to the RAD (Refugee Appeal Division), AND
- No application for leave and no judicial review has been made to the Federal Court.
- If you are a failed refugee claimant who has made an appeal to the RAD and an application to the Federal Court, then you may NOT apply for a TRP until 12 months from the latest date of the following:
- The last rejection of the claim by the RPD
- The last rejection of the claim by the RAD
- The last decision on leave and judicial review by the Federal Court
- (However, there is an exception in the case of Human Trafficking where the refugee claimant believes they have been a victim of human trafficking when IRPA’s Section 24 (4) applies as in this case.)
- If you are what is called a Designated Foreign National which essentially means that immigration authorities in Canada have evidence or believe that you were smuggled into Canada illegally. That is, you entered the country without undergoing any of the border control processes in place for arrivals to Canada.
- If you are a person whose claim for refugee protection has been deemed to be ineligible to be referred to the RPD (Refugee Protection Division) AND who has a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) application pending.
How your TRP Application is Assessed
Now it’s time to consider how immigration official will assess your TRP application in order to see which cases or situations, if any, might be more suitable for applying at your POE.
In the first place, serious inadmissibility issues require the decision of a senior official in order to grant a TRP, making it more likely you will be rejected if you apply for a TRP at your Port of Entry. These are the following:
- Section A34 of the IRPA which involves:
- Espionage & Subversion
- Terrorism & acts of Violence causing harm to Canadians
- Membership in Groups believed to engage in these types of acts.
- Section A35 of the IRPA which involves:
- Violation of Human or International Rights
- Being part of groups or governments believed to engage in these types of acts.
- Section A36(1) of the IRPA which involves:
- Serious criminality which would be punished by 10 or more years if it were committed in Canada.
- Section A37 of the IRPA which involves:
- Organized criminality
- Transnational crime.
If any of the above describes your situation, then clearly you would be best to avoid even trying for a Temporary Resident Permit, much less attempting to apply for one at a Port of Entry where the most likely outcome would be your immediate arrest and detention by the authorities.
What are some of the other factors which immigration officials consider when deciding whether to grant you a TRP?
- Some TRP holders are eligible for permanent residence after a certain number of years of continuous residence in Canada:
- TRP holders with medical inadmissibility are eligible for permanent residence after 3 years of continuous residence in Canada. That is, if after 3 years – despite having a medical condition that initially at least was deemed to be a health risk to Canadians – you become eligible for PR status.
- TRP holders who were inadmissible due to accompanying family members with medical inadmissibility are also eligible for PR status after 3 years of continuous residence in Canada.
- TRP holders who are inadmissible for reasons other than those listed above (security threats, serious criminality, human rights violations, organized criminality) are eligible for PR status after 5 years continuous residence in Canada.
- A TRP holder whose Temporary Resident Permit is valid for at least 6 months (and up to 3 years which is the maximum validity period for a TRP) can apply for a work or study permit.
- Immigration officials are encouraged to seek alternatives such as rehabilitation or record suspension in the case of criminal inadmissibility before a TRP holder reaches the 3 or 5-year threshold for permanent resident eligibility.
Though it might seem counterintuitive, the above factors can work against you as an immigration official might be unwilling to allow you the rights that temporary resident status confers, but this would also depend on the seriousness of your inadmissibility. As well, these are complex issues that immigration officials have to decide and applying at a Port of Entry puts them under even more pressure, making it likely that your application for TRP may be refused unless your reason needing to travel to Canada is compelling.
Some further assessment factors that are considered by officials are:
- Do you have a history of non-compliance with the IRPA/IRPR? Have you deliberately and flagrantly failed to follow the rules and regulations or was it accidental and careless?
- How credible or believable are you in interviews with officials?
- Have you been previously removed from Canada? And have you corrected the reasons for that removal?
- Is yours a complex and highly sensitive case? It will be generally be referred for further review if it is.
- Is there a risk you will require social assistance from the government if you are eventually granted permanent residence?
- What are the reasons for your needing to come to Canada?
Finally, if you, as a refugee, have received a final determination on your claim or on a Pre-removal Risk Assessment (which tries to determine if you would be at risk if you were sent to a country where you would be at risk of persecution) then officials will assess your TRP application without considering the following risks:
- Whether you are a convention refugee who fears returning to your country or some other country of residence;
- Whether you are a protected person who fears torture or cruel and unusual punishment if you are sent to your country or to another country of residence.
In other words, if your refugee claim has been denied but you are able to travel to Canada anyway and you apply for a TRP at your Port of Entry, you won’t be able to argue that your fears of persecution or torture or mistreatment are sufficient reasons to allow you into Canada on a TRP.
Pre-removal risk assessments, on the other hand, are generally for people in Canada who face removal due to a failed claim and don’t apply to someone who’s arriving in Canada and applying for a TRP at their Port of Entry.
Summing up the Evidence – Should you try to apply for a TRP at your POE?
Given what we’ve seen on how immigration officials decide a TRP application, the default answer is no you shouldn’t try, unless you feel your case is fairly clear and your reasons for inadmissibility are not serious ones but rather a case of carelessness or unintentional mistakes.
How to apply for a TRP at your Port of Entry (POE)
A port of entry is any border crossing into Canada, including airports and harbours.
Please note that the U.S. and Canada share data on visitors and immigrants of all types so any violation of immigration rules and regulations that you may have committed in the USA will likely appear on Canadian border officials’ computer systems, making the granting of your TRP very unlikely, unless you have good reasons for those previous violations and have taken steps to remedy them.
You should have the following when you arrive at the Port of Entry (POE):
- A valid passport or travel document (if possible).
- Any documentation that supports your application. For example, if you are inadmissible to Canada due to a DUI, any documentation (police records, insurance records) that show it was only one instance and you have a good driving record and an otherwise clean police record will help.
- A detailed letter signed by you that explains why you need to travel to Canada and why you are not a risk or threat to Canadians and Canada.
- Cleary a presentable appearance and a positive, polite attitude are helpful as well as previously reviewing and studying the details of your case so you can answer most questions a border official will ask you when you ask to apply for a TRP.
- A valid Credit Card or Canadian Debit Card in order to pay the $200 processing fee (unless your situation means that you are exempt from paying the fee).
Remember the border official is judge, jury and executioner and you are pleading your case before them. As well, they have to make an important decision within an hour or two which they have to then justify to their superiors. Do not get impatient, angry, or frustrated. Answer all questions politely and truthfully no matter if the official is aggressive in their manner of questioning.
You will have to fill out an application form which is similar to a criminal rehabilitation form. Carefully and truthfully answer all the questions and fill in all the required fields. Any inconsistencies (whether accidental or deliberate on your part) will most likely result in the rejection of your application. Make sure you answer as accurately as possible.
A Final Caution
Of course, the best way to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit from outside Canada is to do so at a consulate and endure the processing time (up to 6 months in most cases) if you can. However, because sometimes certain situations (maybe a funeral of a family member in Canada for example) require immediate travel, there may be occasions when you have no choice but to apply at your port of entry. Be aware that this is a fairly low-probability strategy and you may very well be rejected and turned away at the border.