Residency Obligation Requirements for Permanent Residents

Find out what requirements you need to meet to get permanent residency in Canada, and how it applies to you.

Canada is a land brimming with opportunities; that’s a given. Hence, thousands of people desire to become permanent residents and get their permanent resident cards. The Canadian government has supported this desire immensely by increasing the number of successful applicants each year. It also plans to invite about 431,000 people to become permanent residents in 2022 through several pathways. However, like any opportunity, this comes with certain rules; residency obligation requirements, that applicants must meet to be eligible.

In this article

Who is a Canadian Permanent Resident?

A Canadian permanent resident is one who isn’t a citizen of Canada but has a permanent resident status by immigrating to Canada. Permanent residents are citizens of other countries. However, a person who lives in Canada temporarily, like a student or a foreign national is not a permanent resident.

Benefits of becoming a Canadian Permanent Resident

There are many benefits that many foreign nationals look forward to when they become permanent residents in Canada. Some of these benefits include:

  • Right to live and work in Canada: Canada is ranked as the second-best country in the world to live and work. Imagine what it’ll be like to live in a country with strong economic influence, entrepreneurship, and high quality of life. Once you achieve PR status, you can live and work anywhere in this beautiful country.
  • Extend or renew your resident status: Most Canadian PR cards are valid for five years. You can renew your card after every five years for as long as you want.
  • Bring your family to Canada: This is valid you’re above 18 years of age. As a PR, you can sponsor close family members to immigrate to Canada too and become permanent residents.
  • Free education for children: Yes; free education! The Canadian government provides this privilege up to grade 12 for all children (below 18 years) of permanent residents. In addition, university tuition fees are subsidized for permanent residents.
  • Safe and Secure Environment: Canada was named the most peaceful country in the world by the Economist in 2007. Permanent residents have all the rights under Canadian charter 6 to be protected by the government and authorities.
  • Freedom to start a business: Permanent residents in Canada can start their own enterprise or invest in a franchise.
  • Universal Healthcare: As a permanent resident in Canada, you can get free medical care. It also covers tax-paid prescription drugs. You can also apply for public health insurance as a Canadian permanent resident.

Residency Obligation Requirements for Permanent Residents

To maintain their status, permanent residents must meet the residency obligation requirements. Canada’s residency obligation for permanent residents requires a person to be physically present inside of Canada for a minimum of 730 days (i.e. two calendar years) within a five-year period. Therefore, if you wish to apply for permanent residency in Canada, you should try to meet this requirement.

You must also demonstrate this requirement when you renew your PR card or apply for a PR travel document abroad. If you don’t, the authorities could revoke your resident status.

Exceptions to the Residency Obligation

As it is with most rules in the world, there are exceptions to the Canada residency obligation requirements. There are four possible ways you can maintain your residency status while not meeting the residency obligation requirements. They are:

#1. Accompanying a Canadian spouse or common-law partner or parent abroad:

This case is valid if; you are a permanent resident, and your spouse or common-law partner is a Canadian citizen; or you’re under 18 and your parent is a Canadian citizen. Hence, you may be able to maintain your permanent resident status by counting the days you spent outside of Canada with your Canadian spouse, partner or parent.

#2. Working for the Canadian government or a Canadian business overseas:

If you work for a Canadian company or one of the provincial/territorial governments, you can credit the days you spend outside the country against your residency obligation requirements. In that case, however, you must meet the following conditions:

  • You work full-time for a Canadian corporation, the federal government, or a provincial or territorial government
  • You were sent to work full-time in another country
  • When you return to Canada, your employment with this company or government agency will continue.

If you don’t meet any of the foregoing conditions, you cannot count the time spent abroad for the residency obligation requirements. Business travels, for example, may or may not qualify, depending on the circumstances.

#3. Accompanying a Canadian permanent resident abroad:

You can include the days spent overseas with your spouse/partner towards the residency obligation if; you are a permanent resident and your spouse/partner is also a permanent resident and is employed full-time by a Canadian business or the Canadian public service while you are living with them abroad. In addition, this also holds if you are under the age of 19 and your parent is a permanent resident of Canada who works for a Canadian corporation or the federal or provincial government in another country.

#4. Humanitarian and compassionate grounds:

If you have exceptional circumstances, IRCC may enable you to retain your status even if you have not met your residency requirement. A person caring for an ill parent overseas who maintains strong residence links to Canada is an example.

Purpose of Residency Obligations

The purpose of the residency obligations requirements for permanent residents are:

  • Prescribing flexible, clear, and objective rules and criteria for establishing and ensuring compliance with residency obligation provisions of the IRPA
  • Helping decision-makers in assessing factors related to residency status determinations and to increase clarity and consistency in decision making
  • Defining rules for calculating days of physical presence in Canada with the aim of checking compliance with the residency obligation

How the Residency Obligation is Enforced

The Canaian government uses various applications to enforced the residency obligation. There are three types of applications than can trigger enforcement. They are:

  • Canada entry application.
  • PR Card renewal application
  • Permanent Resident Travel Document application.

What happens if you don’t meet your Residency Obligations?

If you are in Canada and an immigration officer finds that you have not met your residency requirements, the officer may issue an expulsion order ordering you to leave. However, if you are outside of Canada and do not meet the residence criteria, the government cancels your permanent resident status and notifies you in writing.

If you lose your permanent resident status, you have 60 days from the date of the judgment to seek an appeal. Although, if you submit an appeal, the official may consider humanitarian and compassionate factors before making a final decision about your permanent resident status.

Before applying for Canadian citizenship, keep in mind that time spent outside of the country will not count toward your residence requirements. To be eligible to apply for citizenship, you must have spent at least 3 of the previous 5 years (1,095 days) in Canada as a permanent resident.

Determination of Status

Only by a formal determination of status may a Canadian permanent resident lose their resident status. A visa officer will undertake an authorized determination of status whenever a permanent resident applies for a PR card renewal or a permanent resident travel document (PRTD) to see if the individual has satisfied their residency requirements and has no additional hurdles to renewal.

A person will technically remain a permanent resident of Canada until this official determination is done. Hence, you don’t automatically lose your permanent resident status when a PR card expires. If a permanent resident becomes aware that they have not fulfilled their residency requirement, they may apply to voluntarily renounce their permanent resident status.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can a PR stay outside Canada?

Canadian permanent residents can stay outside Canada for 3 years within a five-year period.

Can you lose your Canadian permanent residency?

Yes, you can lose your permanent resident (PR) status. If you haven’t been in Canada for at least 730 days during the last five years, you may lose your PR status.

What is the difference between a permanent resident and a Canadian citizen?

A permanent resident is someone granted permanent resident status who is not a Canadian citizen. Permanent residents are citizens of other countries. A person in Canada temporarily, like a student or foreign worker, is not a permanent resident.

Can the IRCC reject PR Renewal?

Yes, it can. However, a refusal of a Permanent Residence Card Renewal can be appealed to the Immigration Appeal Division within 60 days of the refusal. If the refusal is based on security reasons or misrepresentation, then the right to appeal is limited.

What is residency determination?

The Residency Determination is one-way Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) determines whether or not Permanent Residents have met the Residency Obligation.


Canadian permanent residents who merely fulfill the residency requirements by remaining in Canada for fewer than 1000 days are more likely to get a residency determination request as part of their PR card renewal procedure. Therefore, to prevent any problems, we propose that you spend at least 3 years (1,095 days) physically present in Canada during a five-year period. We hope you found the article informative enough.