I am a Canadian permanent resident, how long do I actually need to stay in Canada?

Julia Hornstein
Published: April 11, 2024

A permanent resident has many of the same benefits of Canadian citizens. However, unlike citizens, they must maintain their status by meeting certain requirements like the residency obligation.

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To maintain your permanent resident status, you must have been physically present in Canada for at least 730 days (2 years) within the past five years. This period of 730 days does not need to be continuous and will be assessed on a rolling basis.

In addition, some of the days you spend abroad may contribute to the 730 days. You may be able to apply some of your time spent outside Canada towards your permanent resident status if you fulfil one of the following conditions:

  • You work outside Canada
  • You travel with a spouse or common-law partner
  • You are a dependent child and travel with your parent

If you work outside Canada, you need to work full time for a Canadian business or organization or the Canadian federal, provincial, or territorial government for the days to count towards your physical presence in Canada.

If you travel with a spouse or common law partner, your spouse or common law partner needs to be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident working outside Canada full time for a Canadian business or for the Canadian government.

If you are a dependent child and travel with your parent, you parent needs to be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident working outside Canada full time for a Canadian business or for the Canadian government.

Can I leave Canada for more than 6 months?

You may leave Canada for more than 6 months, as long you meet the residency requirements stated above. However, it is recommended that you wait to do so until you have your Permanent Resident (PR) Card.

Your PR Card is your proof of residency in Canada. It can also act like a photo ID and is used at ports of entry to prove your status as a permanent resident to enter Canada when returning from abroad.

If you do not have a PR card, you will have to apply for a Permanent Residence Travel Document before you re-enter Canada. This document is for permanent residents outside of Canada who need proof of their status so they can return to Canada. This document is temporary and largely exists for the sole purpose of helping Canadian permanent residents who do not have PR Card yet or who’s PR Card has expired.

What happens if I don’t fulfill the residency requirements?

Typically, the issue of whether a permanent resident has met their residency requirement will be brought to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) attention when they submit a PR Card renewal application or when they are entering Canada through a port of entry.

If the IRCC officer finds that you have not met the requirement, you may be found inadmissible and can lose your permanent resident status. You will generally be able to appeal the decision to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada’s Immigration Appeal Division. This is called a residency obligation appeal.

The law makes exceptions for permanent residents who were outside Canada during a five-year period for allowable reasons. In order to win your appeal, you have three options:

  • Prove that you were in Canada for the required time
  • Prove that you had an “allowable reason” for being outside of Canada
  • Show that there are humanitarian and compassionate reasons for your appeal, even if you did not comply with your residency obligation

Discover if You Are Eligible for Canadian Immigration

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