If you want to maintain your Permanent Residence status in Canada, you have to meet residency obligations.
Basically that means that, out of any five year period, you must have spent two years (730 days to be exact) in Canada. This is a cumulative period and does not have to be consecutive days.
There are, however, some exceptions to this rule.
- Once you have "landed" in Canada as a permanent resident, any time that you spend living with a Canadian citizen spouse or common law partner outside of Canada is counted as time lived inside Canada for the purposes of meeting your PR residency obligations.
- If you are a child who is under the age of 22 years and if you have PR status, any time that your spend living with a Canadian citizen parent outside of Canada is counted as time lived inside Canada for the purposes of meeting your PR residency obligations.
- If you are a PR and work outside of Canada for a Canadian company or for the government of Canada or the government of a Canadian province, any time that you spend outside of Canada is counted as time spent inside Canada for the purposes of meeting your PR residency obligations. However, this concession does not include those who are hired outside Canada by a Canadian controlled company. It is intended to cover those hired in Canada and then seconded to another country.
- Spouses, common law partners and children under the age of 22 who are PRs and are accompanying their PR partners and parents outside of Canada may count that time as if it were spent in Canada, provided that the PR partners and parents whom they are accompanying are meeting their own residency obligations.
- If you have a valid Returning Resident Permit (RRP), you may count time spent outside of Canada as if it were spent in Canada for the purposes of meeting PR residency obligations. Almost all RRPs expired by 28 June 2004, and so this criterion will cease to be relevant by the end of June 2009.
- In some very limited circumstances it is possible to retain residency on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds.
Regulations before 28 June 2002
These regulations date from 28 June 2002. Prior to that there was a very different legal background, where the two factors were:
- intention to abandon Canada (or not) was a key factor; and
- absence from Canada for more than 6 months (183 days) in any 12 month period.
Loss of permanent resident status was not automatic but was at risk based on these two factors.
Spouses of Canadian citizens
If permanent resident status has not been formally revoked under the pre-2002 legislation, it can be reassessed under the current rules. This has assisted many spouses of Canadian citizens who used to reside in Canada to retain their permanent resident status in a quicker, simpler and cheaper way than applying for a new spouse immigration visa.
A person in this situation should apply for a "Travel Document for Permanent Resident Abroad". For example, the website of the Canadian High Commission, London has information on this option.
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