If you are relocating to Canada temporarily (six months or less), you would be considered a visitor, and, unless you are required to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa before entering the country, you would not need to apply for any other type of legal status in Canada other than the entry stamp in your passport. The usual stay is six months, but immigration officers are free to limit this to a shorter period, and in some cases, you may be authorized to stay longer. The officer who stamps your passport will tell you how long you may stay in Canada.
If you are relocating to Canada as a student you must apply for a study permit. Study permits are granted to those who have been accepted as a student at a recognized Canadian college or university. If you are a U.S. citizen, you can apply for the study permit at the point of entry when arriving in Canada, but you must bring with you the official letter of acceptance from the educational institution to which you have been accepted, a valid passport, a list of your household and personal effects (if you want to bring your belongings with you), and proof of funds. If you are a citizen of any other country you will need to apply for the study permit at your nearest Canadian consulate or visa office. They will provide the necessary information regarding which documents you should bring with you to the point of entry.
If you are relocating to Canada for work-related purposes, you will need to apply for a work permit. You will likely be applying for the permit outside of Canada, and in order to do so you will need to have an offer of a job from a Canadian employer. If you are applying for the work permit from within Canada, you will most likely be a student with a study permit, and in this case applying for the work permit is simple and processing times are relatively fast. It is important to keep in mind that your work permit may limit the kinds of work you may do in Canada. For example, you may not be authorized to work with children, or you may be limited to a certain number of hours per week or month (particularly true if you are a student holding a work permit).
Perhaps you have arrived as a visitor in Vancouver and now find yourself utterly captivated by the area, and wish to stay permanently. Or maybe you have decided to make Canada your permanent home, while still living in your home country. In both cases you will need to begin the process to immigrate to Canada. Canada permits immigration under certain classes (circumstances) and even encourages it from citizens of certain countries. If you are already in Canada, you must return to your country of residence in order to begin the immigration process. An exception to this rule would be if you have gotten married in Canada, to a Canadian citizen, in which case your spouse can sponsor you and your dependents for permanent residency. You must, however, be able to prove that the marriage is genuine and lasting, and that you did not get married for the purpose of gaining permanent status in Canada. There are several classes under which one can apply to immigrate, and these will be discussed in greater detail in subsequent sections.