Soft Landing as a PR in Canada

Last updated: 5 June 2023
Soft Landing as a PR in Canada

Soft landings give new Canadian permanent residents (PRs) the opportunity to better prepare themselves for an eventual permanent move to Canada. Explore what a soft landing is, who can perform one, the pros and cons of the procedure, and much more.

Table of Contents


A soft landing is a procedure that allows all foreign nationals with a valid Confirmation of Permanent Residence (CoPR) to come to Canada prior to their permanent move. During a soft landing, incoming PRs will be able to complete their immigration processes and get a head start on building their new life in this country.

First, this page will cover what a soft landing is and discuss who is eligible to perform a soft landing.

Secondly, there will be a discussion about the documents required for a soft landing, which will be followed by a list of pros and cons related to this procedure.

CanadaVisa will then provide a look into what can be accomplished during a soft landing, including getting a PR card, opening a bank account and more.

Finally, this page will conclude with an FAQ after addressing a common concern among incoming PRs who are considering a soft landing – whether doing a soft landing will create problems when it is time to move to Canada permanently.

Is a soft landing possible in Canada?

A soft landing is a way for new Canadian immigrants to briefly visit Canada prior to their permanent move. This gives you the opportunity to complete your immigration processing and jump-start your new Canadian life.

A more detailed discussion of exactly what can be accomplished during a soft landing will follow later but, for now, it is important to know that soft landings are not only legal, but they are also the right of any foreign national that possesses a valid CoPR.

Who can do a soft landing?

A soft landing can be performed by any foreign national who possesses the following:

  • A valid CoPR
  • A permissible medical test result
  • A valid visa

      What documents do I need for a soft landing in Canada?

      To perform a soft landing, foreign nationals must have the following things:

      • Valid CoPR
      • Valid foreign passport and IM-1 visa (if needed)

      Beyond a valid passport, new Canadian immigrants who are not from visa-exempt countries receive a single-entry IM-1 visa. This visa expires on the one-year anniversary of the recipient’s medical result.

      • Proof of Funds

      Proof of settlement funds, upon entry into Canada for the first time, is required for incoming PRs who qualified for immigration to this country through the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and/or a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).

      Proof of funds can be established using cash, bank drafts, traveler's cheques, or an official letter from a bank.

      • Forms B4 & B4A

      These forms allow Canadian newcomers to avoid paying duties on the belongings they bring from their home country to Canada. In particular, the B4A form is crucial for a soft landing because it must include all belongings you intend to bring into Canada, both at the time of your soft landing and when you move to Canada later.

      What are the advantages of doing a soft landing in Canada?

      There are many benefits to performing a soft landing before your permanent move to Canada.

      Among them is that a soft landing gives new immigrants the chance to get their PR card prior to the time they immigrate here (more on this later). Additionally, because there is no limit to how long you can spend in Canada during a soft landing, this time also provides an opportunity for newcomers to familiarize themselves with their new community. Whether this involves finding the right neighbourhood to reside in or exploring the city you’ve already chosen to settle in, soft landings are a good opportunity to prepare yourself for an eventual permanent move to Canada.

      Because soft landings involve an eventual return to your home country, they also provide an opportunity for newcomers to continue working in their home country as they attempt to find a job in Canada from abroad.

      Returning to your home country after a soft landing will enable you to continue working in your existing job until you’re ready to move to Canada permanently (see FAQ below). This will help you grow your savings, which will be beneficial when you move to Canada permanently. Further, if you return to your home country in possession of your PR card and Social Insurance Number (SIN), you may also appear more appealing to prospective Canadian employers. This is because employers in this country tend to prefer hiring Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

      What are the disadvantages of doing a soft landing in Canada?

      While there are many benefits to a soft landing, performing one can also carry high up-front costs for newcomers. Instead of flying to Canada once for your permanent move to the country, soft landings will require that you incur the added cost of an extra flight to and from your home country. Additionally, you will be required to pay for any expenses related to accommodation, food and other necessities during your soft landing.

      In order to be eligible for PR renewal, immigrants must be physically present in Canada for at least two of the five years (730 total days) that their card is valid. Additionally, to eventually apply for Canadian citizenship, PRs must be physically present in Canada for at least three years (1095 total days) within the five years prior to submitting their application. The ability to fulfill these residence requirements is compromised by a soft landing because soft landings require newcomers to eventually return back to their home country.

      Can I get a PR card during a soft landing? 

      Although it takes a varying amount of time to process a PR card, because processing begins after the newcomer completes their landing interview, it is possible to obtain a PR card prior to leaving Canada at the end of a soft landing. Once again, the amount of time that someone can stay in Canada during a soft landing is completely up to the individual. Therefore, if possible, it is recommended that they stay in Canada until they receive their PR card in the mail. Otherwise, incoming PRs can have trusted friends and family in Canada receive the PR card on their behalf and ship it to their home country. 

      Note: Newcomers that do not or cannot stay in Canada until they receive their PR card must have their card shipped to them, as newcomers are required to be in possession of this card when they return to Canada for their permanent move

      Can I open a bank account during a soft landing?

      For Canadian newcomers performing a soft landing, it is possible to open a bank account using a valid CoPR in place of a PR card as government-issued identification. Doing so will allow you to, among other things, easily transfer money into Canada from your home country when ready to permanently move to Canada.

      What else can I do when I perform a soft landing in Canada?

      The following list outlines other tasks that an incoming Canadian PR can accomplish during a soft landing, on top of getting a PR card and opening a bank account.

      • Obtaining a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
      • Obtaining a Driver’s License
      • Obtaining a Canadian SIM card
      • Obtaining a Health Card
      • Building a Professional Network (to benefit later job search/community building)

      Can doing a soft landing create problems when I come back to Canada permanently later?

      Incoming PRs can rest assured knowing that performing a soft landing will not compromise their later permanent move and should also not create any problems at the border presuming that they present their PR card upon arrival. Any questions from the immigration officer upon arrival to Canada can be addressed by informing the officer that a soft landing had previously been performed.

      Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

      Yes. Newcomers who will be without a PR card at the time of arrival in Canada can apply for a Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTD) to use in place of the PR card.

      Canadian newcomers have three years to return to Canada after a soft landing if they wish to qualify for PR status renewal.

      Newcomers arriving in Canada to perform a soft landing can expect to be asked for their passport, CoPR and Canadian address. They will also be asked to verify answers to some “yes” or “no” questions from their CoPR, including marital status, criminal history etc.

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