Basic residency obligations
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.
Please note that Section 28 (1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states, A permanent resident must comply with a residency obligation with respect to EVERY five-year period.
Some permanent residents are under the impression that they have the automatic right to return to Canada when they've been out of the country for more than three years out of the previous five years. They think that if they then live in Canada for two continuous years, they'll be back on track with respect to their PR status. That is not so.
Failure to meet residency obligations does not automatically lead to loss of PR status, but whether immigration authorities are aware of that or not, it provides a straightforward basis for revoking PR.
If it is later discovered that the person entered Canada fraudulently (by lying when an immigration officer at a port of entry asked them a question or even by omitting to tell an immigration officer pertinent information), their PR status can be revoked, and they can be deported from Canada.
There is no time limit on deportation for fraudulent entry into Canada. Revocation of status and deportation for fraudulent entry into Canada can be imposed even after a person has been granted Canadian citizenship.
There are some exceptions to the above-mentioned 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.
- Note, however, that time spent with a Canadian citizen spouse / partner outside of Canada does not count towards your eligibility towards Canadian citizenship.
- 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 Canadian citizen partners and parents outside of Canada may count that time as if it were spent in Canada.
- 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 (permanent resident abroad).
When does clock start ticking?
The clock starts ticking when you officially "land" in Canada and activate your permanent residence status.
Some people who have been granted permanent residence come to Canada on a recce trip without officially "landing" and activating their PR status. They return to the UK, sell their UK house, arrange for the shipping of their household possessions, resign from their UK job, and so on. Only when all that is organized do they fly out to Canada and "land" in the official sense.
But, if you fly out to Canada without officially landing and if you return to the UK to settle up your affairs there, you do have to consider that there is a limited window in which you can officially land and activate your PR status, this is the expiry date on your CoPR, which in turn is usually (but not always) one year from the time of your medicals.