Residency Requirements

Residency Requirements

Immigrants to Canada are granted Canadian permanent residency after they meet certain requirements set by the Canadian government. All these permanent citizens are people belonging to other countries.

PR Cards

The approval of a person for Canadian permanent residency means they can now apply for a Permanent Resident (PR) Card. Application for the same is submitted to the IRCC – Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. This card is the official proof of that person’s PR status in Canada. It can be used to travel in and out of Canada.

Once they gain permanent residency, these people are able to avail many advantages offered in Canada. These are:

  • They can study, work, live, and move anywhere within the Canadian borders.
  • They enjoy the protection offered by Canadian law and its Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • They have the right to avail Canadian healthcare and social services.
  • They are eligible to apply for the citizenship of Canada once certain requirements are met.
  • They can leave Canada and return using specific documents that show their residency proof.

Residency requirements

As mentioned, being a permanent resident enables you to travel outside Canada post your arrival into the country. There are, however, some obligations you must meet if you want to keep your status as a permanent resident intact.

You have to be physically present in Canada for at least two out of every five-year period. This period is evaluated on a rolling basis and the IRCC looks at the time you spent in the last five years in Canada to ascertain it.

So, you are free to spend three years outside Canada in a five-year period. But if you have to leave Canada for a long time and your residency is less than five years, you will have to prove your ability to meet the residency requirements to the IRCC.

How would you do that?

Residency days can be amassed if you are:

  • A full-time employee of a Canadian public service or business and have been positioned outside Canada or the child, spouse, or common-law partner of a permanent resident who is an employee of the same
  • Traveling with a Canadian common-law partner or spouse
  • An under-age (below 19 years of age) child accompanying a parent

In case you are in Canada and it is established by an immigration officer that residency obligations have not been met by you, a departure order may be issued to you to leave Canada.

Also, in case you are abroad and have not met the residency obligations, the Canadian immigration officers there will inform you of the loss of your permanent residency status.

It is vital to inform the IRCC about your plan to leave the country for an extended time period and your expected date of return. Do know that the IRCC does not issue Returning Resident Permits anymore.

Loss of status

In case of the loss of your status as a permanent resident, you can submit an appeal within two months. It is up to the officer to take the final decision on your application, albeit they keep humanitarian and compassionate factors in mind before they say yay or nay.

Traveling Abroad

In an ideal scenario, you should wait until you receive your PR Card. If the travel is imperative and you haven’t gotten it yet, apply for a Travel Document, called Permanent Resident Abroad. You will require this to be able to re-enter Canada. This document is meant as status proof for permanent residents to return to Canada.

Renewal of PR Card

While most PR Cards have a validity of five years, some are issued for just one year. It is important to keep track of the card’s expiration date and apply for renewal within six months of expiry.


If you wish to become a Canadian citizen, you will have to fulfill certain set criteria – which are inclusive of having a valid PR status. One thing to note here is that permanent residents have to meet different criteria for citizenship than if they were looking for PR renewal.


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