By Fatima-Zahra Fahmi
I am staying in the USA on a visitor visa and I want to know if I can apply to immigrate to Canada from here as I am not willing to go back to my home country.
According to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, applications for permanent residence must be submitted to the visa office responsible for:
• The country where the applicant is residing, if the applicant has been lawfully admitted to that country for at least one year; or
• The applicant’s country of nationality, or if the applicant is stateless, their country of habitual residence other than a country where they are residing without having been lawfully admitted.
The applicant is not required to have been residing in the host country for one year at the time of application, but to have been lawfully admitted to that country for a minimum one year period at the time of application.
In the USA, visitor visas are generally issued for a period of six months but can be extended for another 6 months which makes it up to a total of one year.
If you have lawfully entered the USA and you are currently residing there on the basis of a 6 months visitor visa (B2) you would need to apply for an extension to meet the definition of been lawfully admitted for at least one year. If you already applied and were granted an extension, then you will be able to apply for permanent residence to Canada through the Buffalo visa office. You do not need to wait for the completion of the one year before you apply, you can submit your application as soon as you secure an extension. Also, if you lose your legal status after your application is submitted, whether or not your status is restored, you application will still be processed and assessed on its merits.
However, if you are not sure you can get an extension of your visitor status in the USA and the six months has not yet expired, you may consider applying for a temporary resident visa to Canada (Visitor, student or worker) and explore options to apply for permanent residence from within Canada. For a temporary residence visa, the rule of one year does not apply, yet you have to show that you were admitted lawfully.
Please note that this answer only covers the question on where an application can be submitted. A successful application will depend on whether you meet all the immigration requirements for the category you are applying under or not.