Move to Canada but work abroad

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  • From time to time, someone comes to the BE forum and asks if he/she can immigrate to Canada, maintain a home in a Canadian city, but work abroad for a good deal of the time.


  • There are various kinds of workers to whom this arrangement sometimes appeals -- people who work in the shipping industry, people who work in the oil industry, and so on.


  • The answer is that it is difficult, if not impossible, to implement a proposal like this, depending on how exactly you plan to go about it.


  • If you got a job in Canada for which no qualified Canadian residents were available, you could get a temporary work permit(TWP). With a permanent Canadian job offer in hand, you could potentially apply for Permanent Residency later if you qualify.


  • Once you were a PR, whether straight away or after gaining a work permit, you would have to spend two out of every five years in Canada, in order to maintain your PR status. See the Wiki article called Residency Obligations.


  • The Wiki on Residency Obligations does mention a few exceptions. One of them is as follows:

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.


  • Working for a shipping line or working for a Middle East oil company would not help you to meet your Canadian residency obligations.


  • You could repeatedly re-enter Canada as a visitor. As a visitor, you'd be allowed to buy a residence in Canada.


  • But you would not be eligible for a provincial health care insurance plan or (un)employment insurance. If you had children, they would not be entitled to free schooling in Canada. You might not be allowed to register a vehicle depending on the Canadian province, and you would not be allowed to get a provincial driver's licence. (You can, however, drive on a UK driver's licence for some months. Some Provinces allow this to be longer for people who hold an International Driver's Licence.)


  • The other thing to keep in mind is that, if you come to Canada as a visitor, the immigration officer (IO) at your port of entry always has the right to bar you from entering Canada on that occasion. The IO can let you into Canada, but restrict the amount of time that he/she lets you spend in Canada on that visit.


  • IOs usually admit British citizens for six months (that is the maximum time frame that is permitted for a visitor). But you can never take it for granted that an IO will admit you, and you also cannot take for granted the period of time for which he/she will admit you.


  • In summary, you could buy a home in Canada, but you wouldn't be entitled to social services, and you would bump into some other limitations as well.