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best way for my American girlfriend to move to Canada (establish common law)

BC29

Member
Apr 4, 2015
14
0
hi everyone,

I've been reading this forum for a while and have got some useful advice, but would like to share our scenario to get more specific information. Quick background:

I was born in Canada and have fulltime employment, earning an above-average salary. My girlfriend is American. Our relationship started online in July 2013 and we first met in person in December 2013 when she visited for 5 days. She visited again for 3 weeks in spring 2014 and 2.5 months in summer 2014. In Oct 2014, she moved to Washington state to be closer to me. We now see each other weekly, on average taking turns to visit each other for 2-3 days at a time.

The reason I'm posting is after reading this forum, many have suggested having my girlfriend move to Canada is as easy as visiting for under 6 months, then applying for a visitor visa, then extending as long as necessary to establish common law, then applying for PR as outland. Which sounds great in theory, but so far our experience is that on earlier visits, my girlfriend gets grilled at the border to the point that she's not even sure if they'll let her in. Part of this is our fault, for her summer visit, to save paying for a checked bag, she shipped her clothes. Saved money, but sure as hell didn't save hassle! Also, last year she had just finished school. Now she has employment in WA. Even now for some of her shorter visits, they've been warning her that she's pushing up against the limit of how much time she can spend up here. So right now we're being extra careful, with me visiting her in WA more often than she visits me in BC. Having her come to stay to establish common law seems impossible without first getting a visitor visa. Given the trouble we've had, I don't understand how anyone can come to visit for ~5 months before applying for a visitor visa.

That all said, what's the best way to proceed? Currently, we're thinking that she'll apply for a visitor visa even before coming up here to establish common law, so she can avoid any hassles at the border about visiting too often (a border guard has already suggested this). Then we'll apply to extend as needed. Are they likely to keep extending a visitor visa for an American for up to 18 months? Our current timeline is that she will keep working in WA until Aug 31, 2015, at which point she can get out of her lease without penalty. During this time she'll keep visiting every week or two. After Aug 31, we'd like to have her come to Canada to begin establishing common law. While she's here, I can easily cover all expenses and healthcare coverage for her. We're going to look at getting a storage locker for her stuff and she's going to keep her car so she can return to life in WA if need be. She also has family elsewhere in the US.

One final question, roughly how long does it take to get a visitor visa after applying online (or is there a quicker way to do it)?

I hope that's enough info to start. Thanks in advance for any advice!
 

canuck_in_uk

VIP Member
May 4, 2012
31,558
7,196
Visa Office......
London
App. Filed.......
06/12
Hi

A few things:

1. A visitor visa, called a Temporary Resident Visa or TRV, doesn't give status in Canada. It allows a non visa-exempt person to board a commercial carrier to come to Canada. The CBSA officer at entry decides how long to grant the person VISITOR STATUS for.

2. As Americans are visa-exempt, they don't even qualify for TRVs.

3. The officer may have been referring to a Visitor Record. This is granted at the border on entry and cannot be applied for beforehand.


The only way to proceed is for her to enter as she usually does to visit you. If they don't stamp her passport or they stamp it with the entry date, she can stay 6 months and apply for an extension of her visitor status before that time. If they stamp it with a future date less than 6 months, she can still apply to extend her status before that date. Understand that it is CIC that will decide on her visitor extension once she is in Canada; it is a MUCH DIFFERENT process than the examination at the border by CBSA. Different agencies, different procedures.

Provided you guys can show sufficient proof of funds to support her extended stay, you should have no issues applying for an extension of her visitor status.
 

Rob_TO

VIP Member
Nov 7, 2012
11,427
1,551
Toronto
Category........
FAM
Visa Office......
Seoul, Korea
App. Filed.......
13-07-2012
AOR Received.
18-08-2012
File Transfer...
21-08-2012
Med's Done....
Sent with App
Passport Req..
N/R - Exempt
VISA ISSUED...
30-10-2012
LANDED..........
16-11-2012
As mentioned, since US citizens are visa-exempt it is not possible to apply in advance for a "visa" to come to Canada, as that does not exist. All entries to Canada for visa-exempt travelers are basically decided on the spot by CBSA officers upon crossing the border.

Make sure on every crossing, your partner brings ample proof of ties to US. So she should always have a record or proof of her current employment and lease. Also she should have proof of funds that would support her length of stay in Canada

On her "final" entry to Canada for when you guys intend to start the 12 months cohabitation clock to qualify for common-law, still make sure she acts like a visitor. If she mentions to CBSA she quit her job and ended her lease, they may feel strongly she intends to "live" in Canada. So make sure she has luggage reflecting just a visit, and also show any ties to US. Note that any status she has in Canada (either the initial 6 months status given by CBSA, or an extension of 6-12 months status given by CIC), ends the second she leaves, and she needs to re-qualify for new status upon re-entry. She will need to repeat the same each and every time she wants to travel back to US for a short visit and return to Canada during your 12 months of common-law qualifying and while outland PR app is in process.

And finally if she intends to drive her US car into Canada and use it here for a long time, make sure she talks to her insurance company to make sure she will continue to have coverage here during extended stays.
 

BC29

Member
Apr 4, 2015
14
0
Thanks for the replies! And that's why we've been so confused... last time they stopped her at the border for extra questioning, the border guard told her she could avoid trouble like that by getting a "visitor visa." The guard told her that would allow her to come and go as she pleased as much as she wants without issue. We were wondering if there is a limit to how many times you can apply for a visa, and that is why we haven't taken that route yet.

My girlfriend is also quite concerned about the 12 consecutive months she is required to be here to establish common law. She would personally have no problem staying the full year, but she does have close aging family members and is concerned about needing to go home for emergency situations. Is there any way she would be allowed to do that without jeopardizing everything we'd done up until that point?

I am also concerned about her staying the 12 months because the guards always ask when she is returning. My primary concern is the "final" entry since the border guards are so insistent on knowing a return date. Last summer when she visited for three months, there was a big hassle with them wanting proof she was leaving and getting stopped every time we went across the border. It just seems like there is no way to answer that question honestly in order to stay to get common law. Should she just tell them that she's attempting to get common law status or what? The responses to my original post just seem to not be the most legal way of doing things.

Also, since coming up would mean giving up her job and apartment, if they look at her paperwork, how would she be able to get around that?
 

Celandrius

Star Member
Apr 11, 2014
84
2
Category........
Visa Office......
Ottawa
Job Offer........
Pre-Assessed..
App. Filed.......
July 11th. 2014
AOR Received.
SA- August, 28th, 2014
File Transfer...
August 28th, 2014
Med's Done....
Upfront
Interview........
None
Passport Req..
None
VISA ISSUED...
April 23rd, 2015
LANDED..........
April 28th, 2015
It can be literally as simple as this,
She goes across border, says she's gonna visit you, gets passport stamped.
File for an extension of her visit 1 month or so before visitation expires (she can stay until it is processed).
All you have to do, when filing (which I suggest you do online since it is SO much easier) is let them know you are going to be working toward common-law.
If they don't give her the time you need, just re-extend it. It costs like $100 or so.
I only know this because I'm currently visiting my husband on my extended visitation (I'm also a US citizen).
Just make sure that she doesn't say she's going to live with you, she's just visiting.
 

Panamai

Hero Member
Oct 3, 2013
495
30
Kingston, Ontario
Category........
FAM
Visa Office......
Ottawa
App. Filed.......
29-01-2015
AOR Received.
28-03-2015
File Transfer...
31-03-2015
Med's Request
upfront
Med's Done....
16-01-2015
Interview........
waived
Passport Req..
DM 05-11-2015
VISA ISSUED...
17-11-2015
LANDED..........
23-11-2015
I'm going to recommend a NEXUS card here. It might take a few months to get it, but it's been a lifesaver for me! At the airports, I only go through a kiosk (don't even have to talk to a person). At the border, we went through the NEXUS lane with my car full of stuff and the only question she asked was "where is the car registered?" and let us through. I've been "visiting" in Canada since December 2013. In March 2014, my partner and I flew back to the US to empty out my apartment and drive my car back. We flew out again in August to visit my kids in the US and then I flew alone in January 2015 to visit the US for 5 days. We were able to apply in January 2015 under common-law. :) Hoping to get my COPR by late summer. I'm flying down in July to pick up my kids and bring them for a 5 week visit here. Good luck!