Visa officers have the discretion to extend the time limits on visa that have been issued.

The 2018 decision in Austin v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) illustrates this point.  There, a person was issued a permanent resident visa that expired 35 days after it was issued.  The person booked an airline ticket, however, she was unable to depart as scheduled because her car broke down.  She booked a new ticket but was not allowed to board a plane to Canada because her visa had expired.  She then wrote to Canadian immigration officials asking that they extend the validity period of her visa.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada refused, writing that:

An immigrant visa was issued to you with an expiry date of October 25, 2017. The onus was on you to travel prior to the expiry date of your visa or to notify this office if you were unable to travel prior to the date of expiry.

Your medicals have now expired and we are unable to re-open your file.

We regret to advise that your file is now closed and no further processing can be carried out.

The internal Global Case Management System notes further stated that:

FILE REVIEWED Rec’d the following email from applicant. PA was issued COPR valid to 25Oct2017. Satisfied PA rec’d landing docs in time for travel as she indicated she was booked to travel 19Oct2017 but did not travel. No reasonable explanation has been submitted as to why PA did not travel on 19Oct2017. In addition PA did not notify our office until today, two days after the expiry of her COPR that she was unable to travel. PA is not a landed immigrant to date and now 23yrs old so not eligible to be spr’d in the future. PA: Advise PA that onus was on her to travel prior to the expiry date of COPR or to notify this office she was unable to travel prior to expiry. File is now closed, no further processing can be carried out. Meds expired and we are unable to re-open file.

The Federal Court found that this approach was unreasonable, and stated that:

  • visa officers do have the ability to extend a landing visa / confirmation of permanent residence; and
  • there is no restriction requiring individuals to ask for the extension before the expiry date.