Canada Permanent Residents – Residency Obligations

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has identified the following rights for the permanent resident visa holder, his spouse and children:

  • To receive the most social benefits that Canadian citizens receive, including health care coverage.
  • To live, work or study anywhere in Canada.
  • To apply for a Canadian citizenship.
  • To protection under Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

He must pay taxes, and respect all Canadian laws at the federal, provincial and municipal levels.

As a permanent resident, he and his dependants cannot:

  • Vote or run for political office
  • Hold certain jobs that have a high-level security clearance requirement
  • Remain in Canada if you are convicted of a serious criminal offence and have been told to leave the country

Losing your Permanent Resident Status

There are several ways where in you could lose your permanent resident status:

  • A permanent resident who does not meet his residency obligations could lose permanent resident status.
  • If convicted of a serious crime, a permanent resident may be deported from Canada.

Maintaining a Permanent Resident (Canada Residency) Status

The Permanent Resident Status allows the holder to live in Canada. To retain and maintain the status as a permanent resident, he must live in Canada for at least two years (a total of at least 730 days) within a five-year period. The counting of number of days within Canada starts from the first day of landing on a permanent resident status in Canada. This period of stay need not be in one single stretch and is the cumulative number of days that a resident has lived in Canada during the 5 year period.

This is a considerable improvement over residency maintenance requirements, valid just a few years back where the resident had to stay for 183 days, every year to retain his status.

However, the circumstances may require him to stay outside of Canada for more than the permitted three years (during the five years period) and more often than not, he will loose the residency status. The law recognizes a few situations and circumstances that permit the resident to be outside Canada for more than three years and offers some exceptions. But if he fails to meet the two out of five year’s requirements, the onus to prove that he deserves to be given relaxation under such exceptions lies with him.

Following could be situations where some of the time spent outside Canada by the residents would be considered as the time spent physically in Canada for the purpose of maintaining a permanent residency:

  • For the purpose of accompanying a Canadian citizen who is their spouse or common-law partner, or in the case of a child, their parent.
  • Where the permanent resident is employed by a Canadian Business or if he or she is employed in the public service of Canada or of a province and as such the time spent outside Canada is related to work activities. This is especially beneficial for permanent residents who took residency under business and investor programs and have business interests outside of Canada and including in their country of origin. Their travels outside of Canada on behalf of their Canadian business and its promotion can be counted for all practical purposes as time spent within Canada.
  • Taking the above exceptions forward, if the resident has been residing abroad with a permanent resident spouse, partner or parent employed by a Canadian business or in public service of Canada or a Canadian province, he can calculate this period as part of his residence.

Besides the above situations, appeals for reconsideration of lost residency status may also be considered on humanitarian and compassionate grounds such as family reunification, especially in the best interest of the child. Appeals of residents who lost the status since because they were out of Canada to care for sick relatives may be accepted. Another instance is where a child would have left Canada when he was a minor and hence, is not in a position to understand such legal areas and who returns immediately on reaching the age of majority. He too could appeal and such an appeal may be accepted.

The key considerations for majority of such cases are his ties in Canada and the longer time spent by him in Canada prior to his departure. Ties could mean residences owned, jobs held, taxes paid and local qualifications earned by the applicant. Perhaps, the most important tie is the remaining family especially, the spouse and the children who continue to be Canadian residents or citizens. Post first landing into Canada, longer the duration the applicant has spent in Canada; the more are the chances that minor deviations would be sympathetically looked into by the Immigration authorities.

The least sympathetic situation where the applicant does not have any ties in Canada and has spent majority of his time outside of Canada in the (home) country of origin and working for local home country employers. It will be very difficult for him to prove that his intention was temporary and he did not abandon Canada as his primary residential choice. Even permanent residents who lost status while being employed overseas (for example – USA) and not necessarily in home country and with employers other than Canadian employers, are also unlikely to be considered sympathetically.

In conclusion, the ground rule is simple. People spend years and huge amounts of money trying to attain the resident status on the first place. It is therefore, unfortunate that those having it do not value the residency status. Hence, we simply recommend you to follow the simple requirements of staying for two years during the five years period and enjoy the rights that Canadian Permanent Residency status offered to you and your family. Maintain your status the proper way and avoid the hardships that come with the appeal processes and the deportation proceedings.

Canadian Permanent Resident Status is a valued one, maintain it the rights way and become a Canadian Citizen. When you become a Canadian citizen, you are no longer a permanent resident and residency obligations in terms of minimum stay within Canada are no longer applicable.



  • abdul wahid

    family migratin

  • cal t


    After getting a PR status, does the spouse and family members also need to meet the min requirement of staying in canada(2 yrs out of 5 yrs) in order to enjoy the PR status for all? Can they reside in the home country while the main applicant stay in Canada only until the member finish their high school in home country.



  • admin am a great fan of your articles.I have read many of your articles.they are always the best in informative quality.there is a lot to learn from you.thanks

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