Canadian Permanent Residency Obligations

Last updated: 12 June 2023

Canadian residency obligations

Permanent Residency in Canada grants foreign nationals many of the same rights and freedoms as Canadian citizens. 

However, Permanent Residence status can also be revoked, has certain conditions to be maintained, and provides a route to becoming a Canadian citizen. Read on to learn more.

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This page provides information for understanding Canadian Permanent Residency, including what it is, how to prove it, how one can lose their status, and how a permanent resident can become a Canadian citizen.

What is Permanent Residence (PR) status in Canada?

A Permanent Resident (PR) is someone who has been granted the right to live in Canada permanently by immigrating, though they are not a Canadian citizen. This means they are a citizen of another country but have many of the same rights and privileges as Canadian citizens.

PR status in Canada is granted and administered by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

How can you prove PR status in Canada?

If you are in Canada as a new PR, you can use your COPR or e-COPR as confirmation of your new permanent resident status before your PR card arrives. Once you get your PR card, this will be the de-facto government identification to prove your status in the country.

What is a PR card?

A Canadian Permanent Resident (PR) Card is an identification document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that includes a person’s photo and PR status. It allows Canadian permanent residents to prove their status both in Canada, and when re-entering the country after travelling abroad.

To learn more about a PR Card, and how to obtain one as a new PR in Canada, click here.

What can PRs do in Canada?

In Canada, PRs are afforded many of the same rights as Canadian citizens. They can:

  • Utilise most of the same social benefits as Canadian citizens, such as health care coverage;
  • Live, work, and study anywhere in Canada.
  • Apply for Canadian citizenship and enjoy the rights and protection of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

However, as a PR in Canada, you must still pay taxes and abide by all applicable laws at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels.

What are PRs not allowed to do in Canada?

Notably, there are certain things that PRs cannot do in Canada. They cannot:

  • Vote in political elections (provincial or federal); nor
  • Hold some jobs that require high-level security clearance.

What do PRs have to do to maintain their status in Canada?

To retain your permanent resident status, you must have accumulated at least 730 days of residence in Canada within the past five years. These 730 days do not need to be continuous, and some of your time abroad may count towards your total.

To better track your time in Canada, you can use the IRCC travel journal. Additionally, you may ask a Canadian border officer for details upon entering the country. Another way to track your time spent in Canada is to apply for a new PR card—this process also helps you learn whether you are eligible to remain a permanent resident.

How can a PR lose their status in Canada?

Importantly, your PR status doesn’t expire when your PR card expires. Additionally There are certain things that you can do to lose your PR status in Canada. A PR may lose their status if:

  • A determination of non-permanent residence status is made by an adjudicator after an inquiry or PRTD appeal;
  • They voluntarily give up their PR status (more on this later);
  • A removal order that is made against them and takes effect; and/or
  • They acquire Canadian citizenship.

Why would I want to give up my PR status?

As a Canadian PR, you may want to give up your status in the country if: 

  • You wish to accept a diplomatic or official position with a foreign government;
  • You seek to obtain citizenship or permanent resident status from another country and renounce permanent resident status in Canada as a prerequisite;
  • You know that you have been outside of Canada for an extended amount of time and understand the implications of not having met the residency obligations;
  • You don’t want to wait for a visa officer to assess your permanent resident status. You would like to apply for a temporary resident visa or an electronic Travel Authorization (eTA);
  • You would like to avoid delays when entering Canada; and/or
  • You no longer plan to reside in Canada permanently.

Note that you do not have to give up your PR status when becoming a Canadian citizen.

What happens if I give up my PR status?

If you choose to voluntarily renounce your permanent resident status, you will no longer be considered a permanent resident of Canada as of the day that your application is approved by an officer. It is important to note that the decision made by the officer is final and cannot be appealed to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD). Additionally, you will not be able to apply for Canadian citizenship; any application currently in process will be automatically refused.

How will my family be impacted if I decide to renounce my PR status?

Should you decide to renounce your permanent residence status, your family members are not obligated to follow in your footsteps; they may continue to remain permanent residents. It should be noted that when Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) receives your application to renounce permanent residency, any active family class sponsorship applications you have submitted will be put on hold. If your application is approved, any prior sponsorship applications being processed will automatically be denied, as will pending applications for permanent residence of any family that you have already sponsored. Additionally, processing fees will not be refunded.

How can I voluntarily give up my PR status?

There are also ways that a PR can voluntarily give up their status in Canada. Importantly to be eligible to give up PR status, you must be a current PR of Canada, and still a citizen or valid permanent resident of another country. In cases where the person in under 18 years of age, a legal guardian must provide written consent to the PR regarding their decision to renounce PR status.

To apply to renounce your PR status, you must fill out the application document (IM 5782), and include all necessary photocopies of necessary documents outlined in the document checklist.

Once your application is completed, you must submit it to the office included in your application guide. To find out where to submit your application you can use the IRCC web tool here. Note that for these cases, the full application to renounce PR status must be sent by mail (in hard copy) to the case management centre listed.

For more detailed information on the process of renouncing your PR status, click here.

When is a PR eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship?

Eligibility for Canadian citizenship for a Canadian PR requires that you:

  • Are a permanent resident;
  • Have resided in Canada for at least 3 out of the last 5 years;
  • Have submitted your taxes if it is required;
  • Have passed a test on the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizens and are knowledgeable about the country; and
  • Are able to prove your language proficiency.

How can a PR apply for Canadian citizenship?

The process for a PR to apply for Canadian citizenship (if eligible) is straightforward. Applicants must submit the application online or on paper to IRCC’s citizenship portal, or their office respectively—and pay any associated application fees.

Once the application is processed and approved, then applicants (above the age of 18) are required to register for, and take a citizenship test and interview session, either online or in-person. This test involves questions about Canada’s history, geography, economy, government, laws, symbols, and more, and can be studied for in a variety of ways.

Once this test has been passed, successful applicants will be invited for a citizenship ceremony and to take the Oath of Citizenship (either online or in-person again), where they can take the oath of citizenship and complete their journey to Canadian citizenship.

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