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What are the residency requirements for permanent residents (PRs)?

As a permanent resident, you may travel outside Canada after you arrive. However, you must meet certain residency obligations to maintain your status as a permanent resident.

To meet these residency obligations, you must be physically present in Canada for at least 730 days (2 years) in every 5-year period.

This means that you can spend a total of up to 3 years outside of Canada during a 5-year period. However, if you leave the country for an extended period of time, it is up to you to prove to Citizenship and Immigration Canada that you will be able to meet your residency requirements.

If you are outside Canada for extended periods of time, you can accumulate residency days if you are:

  • Travelling with a Canadian spouse or common-law partner, or are a child accompanying a parent, or
  • Employed on a full-time basis by a Canadian business or the Public Service of Canada, or
  • The spouse, common-law partner or child of a permanent resident who is outside Canada and who is employed on a full-time basis by a Canadian business or the Public Service of Canada.

If you are in Canada and an immigration officer determines that you have not complied with your residency obligations, the officer may issue a departure order that requires you to leave Canada.

If you are outside of Canada and do not meet residency obligations, immigration officers abroad may inform you in writing that you have lost your permanent residence status.

If you lose your permanent resident status, you can appeal this decision. If you appeal, the officer may consider humanitarian and compassionate reasons before making a final decision about your permanent resident status.

If you know that you will be out of the country for an extended period of time it is very important that you contact Citizenship and Immigration Canada and let them know that you will be returning. Citizenship and Immigration Canada no longer issues Returning Resident Permits.

If you plan to apply for Canadian citizenship, please note that time spent outside of Canada cannot be counted towards the citizenship residency requirements. Currently, you must spend at least 3 of the last 4 years (1,095 days) in Canada as a legal resident of Canada to be eligible to apply for citizenship. For more information, read How do I apply for Canadian citizenship?

If You Need to Travel Outside of Canada

You should wait until you have your Permanent Resident Card. If you can’t do this, you will have to apply for a Travel Document (Permanent Resident Abroad) before you re-enter Canada. This application is for permanent residents outside of Canada who need proof of their status so they can return to Canada.
For more information about documents required to return to Canada, please read:

For More Information

  • Rights and Responsibilities of Permanent Residents - Find out what you need to know about living in Canada as a permanent resident.
  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) - The federal department responsible for Canadian immigration and citizenship. Its website has information on immigration policy, programs and services, application kits, and more.
  • CIC Help Centre - A tool that helps answer frequently asked questions on immigration matters. It offers several ways of searching through the information available, including search by keyword. From Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Last Updated: March 11, 2011
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