You do not need to be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to lease or own property in Canada. Any foreign national is allowed to do so without restriction – they simply need to pay any required taxes, such as sales tax or land transfer tax, in order to take ownership of their Canadian property.
Rights of Foreign Property Owners in Canada
If you are a foreign national without a work permit or study permit, and you own property in Canada, then you will enter Canada as a visitor in order to go to your Canadian cottage or home. However, owning property in Canada does not give any foreign visitor the right to enter Canada, even to enjoy the property they have paid for. It is a privilege, not a right, for any person who is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to enter Canada – even if they are property owners.
If you are inadmissible to Canada, then you will not be allowed to enter Canada, even to go to a property you own. The most common reason for inadmissibility to Canada for Americans is criminal inadmissibility surrounding DUI charges. If you are an American citizen who owns property in Canada, you will be refused entry at the Canadian border if you have a criminal record. To overcome your inadmissibility and visit Canada, you will need to either apply for a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation.
Staying Legal While Visiting Your Canadian Property
If you enter Canada as a visitor, how long you are allowed to remain in Canada is determined by Canada Border Services Agency when you speak with them at the border. Nearly all visitors are given 6 months to remain in Canada. Unless CBSA tells you otherwise, then you are allowed to stay for 6 months from the day you have entered.
If CBSA wants you to leave Canada sooner than 6 months from entry, they will advise you verbally AND write the date you must leave on the stamp they put in your passport. You should also be given a visitor record, which is a paper document, which tells you the date you must leave Canada (your expiry date).
No matter how long you are given by CBSA at the time you enter Canada, you can apply to extend your stay as a visitor from within Canada without having to leave. As long as you apply BEFORE your expiry date, then you will have implied status, and will continue to be legal in Canada until a decision is made on the application to extend your stay. If the application is approved, then you are allowed to stay until the expiry date on your new visitor record. If the application is refused, then you must leave Canada immediately.
Even if your visitor extension application is refused, if you leave Canada on time as you are supposed to, then you should be able to re-enter Canada in the future without problems. It is extremely important to maintain valid status in Canada to prevent problems the next time you try to cross the Canadian border.
Relocating to Canada Permanently
Owning property in Canada does not give applicants for permanent residence any additional advantage. Applicants for economic immigration, based on work experience and education, still need to meet all eligibility requirements regardless of their country of nationality or any property ownership in Canada. Additional points are awarded for family members in Canada and English (or French) language ability.
There is no maximum age for immigrating to Canada. If you are over the age of 45, economic immigration to Canada via Express Entry can be much more difficult as the applicant will not be awarded any points for their age. However, there are still programs which applicants over 45 can take advantage of.
If you have family members in Canada, they also may be eligible to sponsor you for permanent residence under the Family Class.
Contact us to see which pathways to Canada are best suited to your circumstances.