As a Canadian permanent resident, you may travel within and out of Canada, anytime you wish. But, you have to meet some residency obligation requirements to maintain your status as a permanent resident.
To meet these residency obligations or requirements, you must be physically present in Canada for at Two years in every Five (5) year period. You should note that the Five (5) year period is assessed on a rolling basis. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will assess your time in Canada over the previous of five (5) years.
This means that you can stay outside of Canada for a total of up to Three (3) years during a Five (5) year period.
But, if you have been a permanent resident for less than 5 years and decide to leave the country for a period of time, it is up to you to show to IRCC that you will be able to meet your residency requirements.
Residency Obligation Requirements For Permanent Residents
If you are out of Country for extended periods of time, you may accumulate residency days if you are:
- Traveling with a Canadian spouse or common-law partner, or are a child under Nineteen (19) years of age accompanying a parent, or
- Employed on a full-time basis by the Public Service of Canada or by Canadian business and are assigned a position outside of Canada, or
- The spouse or common-law partner of a permanent resident who is outside Canada and who is hired or employed on a full-time basis by the Public Service of Canada or by Canadian business.
On the other hand, If you are in Canada and an immigration officer determines that you have not fulfilled your residency obligations, the officer may issue a departure order that requires you to be removed from Canada.
If you are outside of Canada and do not comply with the residency obligations, immigration officers abroad may notify you in writing that you have lost your Canadian permanent residence status. But you have 60 days to appeal this decision.
Therefore, if you know that you will be out of Canada for an extended period of time, we always suggest that one should contact IRCC and inform them that you will be returning. The IRCC no longer issue Returning Resident Permits.
Finally, If you plan to apply for Canadian citizenship, you should note that you must spend at least three (3) of the last Five (5) years in Canada as a legal resident of Canada to qualify to apply for citizenship. To learn more about this, read How do I apply for Canadian citizenship?