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What’s My Status?


Immigrant? Refugee? Newcomer? Undocumented? Illegal*? Non-status?

All of these words used to describe immigration status can be really confusing!

Here’s a quick guide to some of the different immigration statuses that you could have. If you’re unsure of your status, please visit a community agency or a Legal Clinic.

Visitor – Usually someone who has been in Canada for less than six months. Often there is an “entry date” marked in your passport that allows you to stay for six months after this date (unless there is an additional exit date stamped in your passport). If you stay longer than this date, and you haven’t done anything to change your status, you will be non-status. People with visitor status are unable to work or study.

Refugee Claimant – Someone who is fleeing persecution in their country, and seeking refuge in Canada, and has filed a refugee claim with the Canadian government.

Convention Refugee – Someone whose refugee claim has been granted by the government after having a hearing with the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). A convention refugee may also be someone who has resettled as a private or government-sponsored refugee.

Refused Refugee Claimant – Someone who has had a negative decision on their refugee claim, they may be eligible to appeal to the IRB or to apply for judicial review to the Federal Court.

International Student – Someone who has applied for and received a permit to study in Canada. This permit allows them to study at an approved school or institution.

Temporary Resident Holder – Someone who has a temporary resident permit (TRP) – a special permit that is given to someone who has precarious status and in unique situations. This permit is usually valid for six months or to one two years.

Temporary Worker – Someone who has a work permit and a temporary resident visa. This status allows you to work in Canada for a period of time. There are many types of temporary worker programs and each carries different sets of guidelines and procedures.

Permanent Resident – Someone who has applied for and received permanent residence in Canada. This allows that person to stay in Canada permanently (with some exceptions).

Non-status (undocumented) – Someone who doesn’t have any of the statuses listed above (and is not a Canadian citizen). Someone in this situation may apply for permanent residence on Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds (called an H&C application). Please note there are some conditions to be eligible to apply for this application.

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  • please note that we in no way promote the use of this terminology as it is violent language and does not describe real experiences of immigration
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