What it Means to Be a Permanent Resident (PR) of Canada
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people move to Canada with the goal of staying there for good. Some apply for permanent residence (PR) right away, while others come to Canada temporarily, such as on work permits or study permits, and later qualify for PR. Getting a permanent residence is the first step toward becoming a legal Canadian, and many people who get permanent residence then apply for citizenship.
But what does it mean to live in Canada all the time? This article talks about a permanent resident in Canada. We also talk about the rights of Canadian permanent residents and how to get a PR card and keep your status as a permanent resident.
Permanent residence in Canada
A permanent resident (PR) of Canada is someone who has moved there and has been given the right to live there permanently. This means that you don’t need a visa or a temporary residence permit to live and work in Canada, and you can stay there permanently as long as you keep your PR status.
As a permanent resident, you are still a citizen of another country, but you may be able to apply for Canadian citizenship once you meet the physical residence requirement and other criteria. With a few exceptions, permanent residents have most of the same rights and freedoms as Canadian citizens.
Permanent resident status is usually given for a period of five years. If you don’t apply for citizenship during that time, you can renew your PR status as long as you’ve lived in Canada for at least two of the last five years.
Difference Between Permanent Residence and Canadian citizenship
Permanent residence in Canada is different from being a citizen of Canada in many ways, such as:
- Your citizenship status lasts forever, but you have to keep and renew your permanent residence. For example, if you are a permanent resident of Canada and decide to go back to your home country for a few years, you might not be able to renew your PR status if you do not meet the physical residency requirement.
- Permanent residents don’t have the same rights as Canadian citizens. Unlike PRs, for example, Canadian citizens can vote in elections, get a Canadian passport, and run for public office.
- A Canadian citizen’s child who is born outside of Canada can get Canadian citizenship right away. But if a Canadian permanent resident gives birth outside of Canada, the child does not automatically qualify for citizenship.
As a permanent resident, you can become a citizen after you have lived in the country for at least 1095 days or three full years. Note that you may be able to count some of the time you spent in Canada before you became a permanent resident. You must also pass the citizenship test, show that you can speak the language, pay your taxes (usually for three years), and take the citizenship oath.
Canadian permanent resident card
A permanent residence card is a form of ID that shows that you are a PR in Canada. To get back into Canada after traveling to another country, you’ll also need your PR card and your foreign passport.
You can also show your PR card or Confirmation of Permanent Residence as proof of your status in Canada when you apply for provincial health insurance, a Canadian driver’s license, school registration for your children, or certain financial products.
Getting a permanent resident card
You can only get a PR card if you’ve been chosen to live in Canada permanently.
You must first come to Canada with your passport and Confirmation of Permanent Residence (CoPR) to get your permanent resident card. Depending on where you’re coming from, you may also need a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to enter Canada.
Before processing your PR card application, immigration officers will look over your documents and talk to you briefly at your port of entry, which can be an airport or the Canadian border. You’ll need to give a Canadian address, which can be where you’re staying temporarily. In a few weeks, you’ll get your PR card in the mail.
If you’re already living in Canada on a work permit or study permit and just got approved for permanent residence, the IRCC will send you an email to confirm your PR status through the IRCC portal.
Your rights as a permanent resident of Canada
You will have certain rights and freedoms in Canada once you are a permanent resident. These things are:
- The freedom to go anywhere in Canada and live there without any limits.
- Access to social benefits, such as free public education for kids, free health care in your province, etc.
- Permanent residents who qualify can sign up for programs like Old Age Security (OAS), the Canadian Pension Plan or the Quebec Pension Plan (depending on your employment status), the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), and more.
- To be able to buy a house in Canada. A two-year ban on buying property in Canada by non-residents and temporary residents (with some exceptions) went into effect on January 1, 2023.
- The right to work in Canada for any company. You must, of course, go through the hiring process and get a job offer from the employer first. But Canadian employers don’t need an LMIA to hire PRs.
- The freedom to go to any college or university in Canada to study. Different schools have different requirements for who can study there, and you must first be accepted into a program and pay domestic tuition fees. But most of the time, domestic students pay much less than international students.
- The chance to become a Canadian citizen after meeting other requirements and living there for a certain amount of time.
- The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Canadian law gives people freedom and protection.
Restrictions for permanent residents in Canada
Permanent residents in Canada have to follow certain rules. These are things that permanent residents can’t do but Canadian citizens can, such as:
- You cannot vote in federal, provincial, or municipal elections.
- You are not eligible to run for office.
- You cannot get a Canadian passport.
- Jobs that need a high level of security clearance are out of reach.
- You can’t be asked to serve on a jury.
Maintaining your permanent residence status in Canada
Unlike citizenship, being a permanent resident of Canada is something you have to keep up with. To keep your PR status, you must have lived in Canada for at least 730 days (two years) in the last five years. The 730 days don’t have to be in one long stretch.
In some cases, time spent outside of Canada may also count toward your physical residency requirement to keep your PR status. For example:
- If you worked full-time for a Canadian company or government abroad.
- If you went abroad with your spouse or partner who is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident who works full-time abroad for a Canadian company or government and is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
- If you are a child who needs to travel abroad with a parent who is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident working full-time abroad for a Canadian company or government, you will need a visa.
Renewing Your PR Card in Canada
Most PR cards are good for five years, during which time many newcomers apply for and get Canadian citizenship. But if you don’t meet the requirements for citizenship or don’t plan to apply for it, you may need to get your PR card renewed.
Your PR card can only be renewed if you meet all of the following:
- You lived in Canada for at least 730 days in the five years before the application.
- Your PR card is no longer valid or will be in nine months.
- You haven’t given up or lost your PR status, nor have you become a Canadian citizen.
- You are in Canada right now.
- To renew your PR card, you’ll need to fill out an online application through the IRCC portal and pay a $50 processing fee.
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