Can I travel outside Canada after submitting my citizenship application? 

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: February 26, 2024

All Canadian permanent residents (PRs) may leave the country, and return, after mailing their citizenship application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

However, IRCC clarifies that there are certain steps PRs must take to ensure they remain eligible for citizenship while outside Canada.

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Specifically, to ensure that they remain eligible for Canadian citizenship, IRCC indicates that PRs must:

Be a Canadian PR at the time they apply for citizenship

Only Canadian PRs can apply for citizenship. In other words, temporary residents of Canada, including foreign workers and international students, are not eligible to become Canadian citizens.

Continue to meet the residency requirement to maintain PR status

As part of being a Canadian PR, foreign nationals must reside in Canada for a minimum of 730 days over the past five years to maintain their status.

This is what IRCC refers to as the residency requirement for Canadian PRs. Note that the 730 days needed to meet this requirement do not need to be continuous and some time spent outside of Canada may count towards this total.

Maintain PR status until they take the Oath of Citizenship

Further to the residency requirement described above, to remain eligible for Canadian citizenship, Canadian PRs must “not lose PR status before [taking] the Oath of Citizenship.”

Click here to learn about your obligations as a Canadian permanent resident, including additional information about what PRs can and cannot do while residing in Canada.

Travel outside of Canada with their PR card for simple re-entry

Travelling outside of Canada with your PR card will make it much easier to re-enter the country. This is because IRCC requires that Canadian PRs have a valid PR card when returning to Canada by plane, train, bus or boat.

Therefore, Canada’s immigration department advises all PRs to renew their card before leaving Canada if they know it will expire during their travels.

IRCC notes that PR cards can only be renewed in Canada and that the department will not “send PR cards to non-Canadian addresses [or] allow third parties to retrieve them” for an applicant.

Travellers without a valid PR card must apply for and obtain a Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTD) to re-enter Canada. Unlike PR cards, IRCC only allows PRTDs to be applied for from outside of Canada.

IRCC also indicates that Canadian PRs who attempt to return without either of these documents may be denied entry onto their flight, train, bus or boat travelling to Canada.

Important notes from IRCC regarding the citizenship process for Canadian PRs

IRCC notes that there are certain things Canadian PRs should keep in mind about how the department handles communication with applicants and organizing appointments/events.

For instance, IRCC notes that they “usually only [mail] letters, notices and other documents to addresses in Canada.”

IRCC may also email Canadian immigration applicants. The department emphasizes that recipients of any IRCC “letters or emails [must reply to these communications] within a specified amount of time.”

Failure to do so without providing “an acceptable reason for not being able to keep your appointment [with us] or providing requested information” may result in IRCC deciding to “stop processing [an individual’s] application.”

IRCC also notes that immigration applicants must attend their appointments and events – including their citizenship test, ceremony, interview or hearing – at IRCC offices across Canada.

Applicants who are unable to attend such appointments or events are required to “either email or write to the local office that sent [them] the event notice” and IRCC indicates that applicants can contact the immigration department using this online web form.

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

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