Settling Down In Canada or The US on A Visitor's Visa - Can It Be Done?

Amy Smith / 5 min read
Whether you are a family or an individual, settling down on a visitor’s visa can be a difficult or almost impossible process and there are several scenarios that could happen. Normally there are one of two reasons that you might want to settle on a visitor’s visa:
Whether you are a family or an individual, settling down on a visitor’s visa can be a difficult or almost impossible process and there are several scenarios that could happen. Normally there are one of two reasons that you might want to settle on a visitor’s visa: 

  1. Dual Intentions – You have deliberately applied for a visitor’s visa with the intention of staying because they are easier to obtain.
  2. Quick Decisions – Upon seeing the country and falling in love with it you have decided you want to stay here and never leave. 
  3. Change of Circumstances – For example if a family member is sick and you want to relocate to take care of them. 
With this in mind, here are the possible scenarios for settling down and both are the same process for Canada and the US. 

Dual Intentions
This is generally frowned upon within the immigration offices because it implies that you lied on your initial application, which subsequently harms future ones, however, this is what you can do if you find yourself in this situation: 

  1. Leave the country – Go back to your home country and apply for the right visa that would start the process to becoming a citizen from outside the US or Canada. This is seen as the most appropriate channel and the one that will look upon you more favourably, it can take some time but if you or a family member are a skilled worker it could expedite this process. Also note that the US is becoming stricter on family visas so it would benefit you to apply for each family member individually on their own merit to make your application more likely to be successful. 
  2. Overstay your visas – You could stay in the country longer, although this is not encouraged as you lose all legal rights (including to earn a wage) and if found out you will be deported and further applications denied. If you do this accidentally you must inform your nearest embassy or immigration office immediately. 
  3. Apply for new visas – You can hire an immigration lawyer to apply for new visa types within the country for you under certain circumstances. This is not always successful and can be expensive but if you aren’t willing to leave it should be done as soon as possible on your current visa. 
  4. Extend your visa – You can look into extending your visitor’s visa however this could encounter complications if you no longer have a valid reason to visit the country. In most cases the immigration office will encourage you to go home and apply for the proper visa.
It is important to note that there are special circumstances that apply to refugees who are in fear of their life if they were to return to their home country. If this is you, seek advice from the immigration office and apply for refugee status as this does not require a valid visa to get in the country. 

Quick Decisions/Change of Circumstances
Leave and reapply – This is the most favourable and genuine option as it shows that you came to visit the country and have a look, returned home and would like to return. This is usually the recommended course of action from the immigration office. 
  1. Overstay – Again frowned upon and would hinder future applications as well as resulting in fines and deportation. 
  2. Hire an immigration lawyer – They can give you the next best steps to applying for new visas while within the country and may be able to help you change your immigration status from visitor’s visas to temporary residence, particularly if you show you were not intending to stay. 
As you can see, it is always best to be honest and follow the correct application process to become a citizen. The best way to do this is provide proof and documents and not lie on applications because although some have been able to settle on a visitor’s visa, it is usually in extenuating circumstances.
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