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21 Tips for Permanent Residents in Canada

Welcome to Canada! Now you’ve arrived, here’s what you need to know about being a permanent resident (PR).

1. PRs have rights and responsibilities. 

As a PR, you:

  • qualify for health care and other benefits
  • can live, work or study anywhere in Canada
  • may apply to be a Canadian
  • must obey the law
  • owe taxes
  • cannot vote or run for political office
  • are excluded from certain jobs with high-level security clearances
  • and can be deported for committing a serious crime or using false documents to get PR status.

2. Criminals are not permitted to enter Canada.

So are foreigners and refugees with serious communicable diseases or criminal records in Canada or abroad. When you apply to immigrate here, you and any family members over 18 must submit a police certificate from every country or territory you have lived in for six or more months at a time. You may also be asked for photos, fingerprints, past addresses and details about places where you have lived.

3. You could be asked to leave (let’s hope not).

You could lose your PR status if you fail to meet Canadian residency requirements or Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) deports you under a removal order.

4. PRs can apply to be citizens.

You can live here permanently, but you are not a Canadian citizen. You have to apply for Canadian citizenship and be accepted.

5. You can travel outside Canada.

You can travel as long as you live in Canada 730 days, or two years, out of every five years. 

6. You can become a citizen after three years.

You can apply to be a Canadian after 1,095 days, as long as you have lived here three of the last five years. 

7. You can track your own residency hours or ask a border officer.

Keep track of your hours while you’re in Canada or ask Canadian Border Services Agency when you re-enter the country. 

8. IRCC needs to know if you will be gone a long time.

Inform IRCC if you plan to return to Canada by contacting their local office.

9. Frequent travel or absences may affect your PR status.

The more you travel or are out of country, the more likely IRCC will think you plan to give up your Canadian residency. You may have to prove your absences were temporary.

10. Some exceptions apply.

Days you spend outside Canada can be counted towards your PR or citizenship status if you:

  • travelled with a Canadian spouse or common-law partner
  • are under 19 and travelled with a parent
  • you, your spouse, common-law partner or parent work full-time for a Canadian business or Public Service of Canada in another country
  • you were abroad for humanitarian and compassionate reasons.

11. Yes, you could be deported if you are away too much.

You may be forced to leave Canada if you stay away too long. You can be ordered to depart if you are still in Canada. If you are out of country, IRCC may advise you in writing.

12. You can appeal a departure order.

You have 60 days to appeal your PR status. You may plead humanitarian or compassionate reasons during your appeal.

13. You need a PR card or official travel document to re-enter Canada.

Your PR card is proof you can re-enter Canada. The federal government will mail the wallet-sized card to you when you arrive here. If your address changes or you did not give one, you have 180 days to notify government or pay a fee to reapply. 

14. Unless you travel by car, you have to show your PR card to return.

Show your card to CBSA when you travel by airplane, boat, train or bus. A record of landing or confirmation of permanent residence documents will do if you are entering Canada by car. 

15. You may need a passport to re-enter.

PRs from visa-exempt countries need a passport to re-enter Canada by air.

16. Canadian government offices elsewhere can advise you on travel requirements.

Contact a Canadian visa office or CBSA if you don’t have your PR card and want to return. You may have to apply for a PR temporary travel document.

17. You can renew your PR card if it expires.

PR cards can be renewed. You do not lose residency status if your card expires. But replace it as soon as possible in case you need it to travel.

18. Temporary residents are not PRs.

You are not a PR just because you are in Canada as a student or foreign worker.

19. Refugees can be PRs.

Refugees can apply for PR status if they are approved as a protected person by IRCC. Refugees resettling from overseas receive PR status through the Government-Assisted Refugee Program or Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.

20. You can renounce your PR status if you want. 

If you change your mind, let IRCC know. You can also renounce your status if you failed to meet the residency requirements but want to visit Canada without living here or being delayed at the border. 

21. You are no longer a PR if you get Canadian citizenship.

Now you’re a Canadian.

Swear a Statutory Declaration by Video Call

Axess Law’s Ontario commissioners of oaths can swear or affirm statutory government declarations for PRs. Make a virtual video call appointment by calling 1-877-522-9377 or in Greater Toronto to 647-479-0118 or use our online booking form. Commissioners can meet you in person at our Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices.
Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s commissioner of oath and notary public services.

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