How do I calculate time spent in Canada when applying for Canadian citizenship?

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: January 5, 2024

To be eligible for Canadian citizenship, most applicants must have been living in Canada for at least 1,095 days (3 years) during the 5 years immediately before the date they sign their citizenship application.

This is what Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) refers to as the physical presence requirement for Canadian citizenship. In most cases, the calculation of time spent in Canada only recognizes days that an applicant lives in Canada after becoming a permanent resident (PR).

Note: IRCC encourages citizenship applicants to “apply with more than 1,095 days of living in Canada in case there’s a problem with the calculation”

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However, applicants can also use some time spent in Canada as a temporary resident (TR) or protected person toward this requirement. To further assist prospective Canadian citizenship applicants, tools like this citizenship calculator can help estimate when you may be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship.

Full details on IRCC’s physical presence requirement for Canadian citizenship can be found here.

IRCC’s definition of a temporary resident and protected person

Importantly, IRCC defines the terms “temporary resident” and “protected person” using the following descriptions:

Temporary residents are foreign nationals “authorized to enter or stay in Canada as a visitor, student worker or temporary resident permit holder.”

A protected person is someone who either “was found to [need] protection or [was assessed as] a convention refugee by the Immigration and Refugee Board or received a positive decision* on a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment” from IRCC.

*Refugee claimants, including those added on a family member’s refugee claim, will only be credited time in Canada beginning after the claimant receives a positive decision confirming they are a protected person

How to calculate time spent in Canada depending on your status in Canada

In the case of TRs and protected persons across Canada, IRCC clarifies that “each day spent in Canada … within the last 5 years counts as one half day [for] physical presence” calculations.

In addition, it is important to note that Canadian TRs and protected persons can only use a maximum of 365 days towards their time spent in Canada. The rest of the time calculated toward this requirement must be time spent in Canada after becoming a PR.

Using examples, the following will illustrate how applicants with different statuses in Canada can calculate their time spent in Canada before applying to become a Canadian citizen.

Temporary Resident: Romesh

Romesh will be signing his Canadian citizenship application on March 24, 2024. After coming to Canada as an international student in September 2019, Romesh became a PR in 2022. He has remained in Canada every day since arriving as an international student.

Date application was signed: Romesh applied for citizenship on March 24, 2024

  1. The five-year period used to calculate Romesh’s physical presence in Canada is March 24, 2019, to March 23, 2024*
  2. Time before March 24, 2019, cannot be counted
  3. Romesh spent no time outside of Canada since arriving, but IRCC notes that any days where an applicant was NOT physically in Canada cannot be counted

*March 24, 2024 cannot be counted because citizenship applicants must meet the requirements the day before they apply for citizenship

Note: Romesh arrived in Canada as an international student on September 4, 2019, and officially became a PR on January 6, 2022

Time spent as a TR: September 4, 2019 to January 5, 2022 (855 days)

Since each day counts as 0.5 days towards this calculation (max. 365 days), Romesh can use 365 days spent as a TR towards his physical presence requirement.

Time spent as a PR: January 6, 2022 to March 23, 2024 (808 days)

All 808 days can be counted towards his physical presence requirement.

Therefore: 365 days (TR) + 808 days (PR) = 1,173 days

Protected Person: Kevin

Kevin came to Canada as a protected person in 2021. He will be signing his Canadian citizenship application on July 16, 2024. Kevin became a PR in early 2023. Kevin has remained in Canada every day since arriving as a protected person.

Date application was signed: Kevin applied for citizenship on July 16, 2024

  1. The five-year period used to calculate Kevin’s physical presence in Canada is July 16, 2019, to July 15, 2024*
  2. Time before July 16, 2019, cannot be counted
  3. Kevin spent no time outside of Canada since arriving

*July 16, 2024 cannot be counted because citizenship applicants must meet the requirements the day before they apply for citizenship

Note: Kevin arrived in Canada as a protected person on May 20, 2021, and officially became a PR on February 19, 2023

Time spent as a protected person: May 20, 2021 to February 18, 2023 (640 days)

Since each day counts as 0.5 days towards this calculation (max. 365 days), Kevin can use 320 days spent as a TR towards his physical presence requirement.

Time spent as a PR: February 19, 2023 to July 15, 2024 (513 days)

All 513 days can be counted towards his physical presence requirement.

Therefore: 320 days (TR) + 513 days (PR) = 833 days

Permanent Resident: Shelly

Shelly has been in Canada as a PR since 2017 and she will be signing her Canadian citizenship application on June 6, 2024. In 2019, between January 4 and August 18, Shelly was back in her home country attending to some personal matters.

Date application was signed: Shelly applied for citizenship on June 6, 2024

  1. The five-year period used to calculate Shelly’s physical presence in Canada is June 6, 2019, to June 5, 2024*
  2. Time before June 6, 2019, cannot be counted
  3. Shelly spent 227 days (January 4 to August 18, 2019) outside of Canada, meaning that these days cannot be counted towards her physical presence requirement

*June 6, 2024 cannot be counted because citizenship applicants must meet the requirements the day before they apply for citizenship

Time spent as a PR between eligible dates: June 6, 2019 to June 5, 2024 (1,827 days)

However, not all 1,827 days can be counted towards her physical presence requirement because time spent outside of Canada (227 days) must be subtracted from that total.

Therefore: 1,827 days (PR) - 227 days (Outside Canada) = 1600 days

Additional information about the physical presence requirement for Canadian citizenship

It is important to note that all adult applicants must meet the physical presence requirement to be eligible for Canadian citizenship.

Some minors applying for Canadian citizenship must also meet the physical presence requirement

Specifically, IRCC indicates that minors without a Canadian parent or a parent who is applying for Canadian citizenship at the same time are required to meet the same physical presence requirement as adult applicants.

Schedule a Free Canadian Citizenship Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

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