What is a Permanent Resident?
A permanent resident is a person who is a citizen of another country that has received permission to stay in Canada indefinitely. While having permanent residence gives a foreign national several rights, permanent residents are not citizens of Canada.
For example, permanent residents are entitled to health care coverage and social benefits. They can study, work, or live anywhere in Canada, and may be able to apply for citizenship if they meet the qualifications. Permanent residents are also required to pay income taxes in Canada, but retain their foreign citizenship.
There are still some rights that are reserved solely for Canadian citizens, such as holding some government jobs, including serving as a political candidate. Only Canadian citizens can vote in elections or obtain a Canadian passport.
Who Can Apply to be a Permanent Resident?
Anyone may apply for permanent residence, provided that they qualify under one of the relevant categories. The main categories to apply for permanent residence are through the skilled worker Express Entry system, or through the family sponsorship categories.
If you are interested in permanent residence under the Express Entry, you can calculate your CRS Score to see how likely you are to receive an Invitation to Apply.
If you have a family member that is a permanent resident or Canadian citizen, they may be able to apply to sponsor you for permanent residence in Canada. You can be sponsored by your Canadian spouse, common-law, or conjugal partner. Canadian citizens or permanent residents can also sponsor their child, or, in some limited circumstances, their parent.
There are also some other ways of becoming a permanent resident, like by applying as a refugee or Protected Person.
Being found inadmissible – for example on medical or criminal grounds – will prevent you from becoming a permanent resident.
Permanent residence should be distinguished from temporary residence in Canada. Temporary residence pertains to visitors, students, and workers. This type of status is not permanent but for a limited amount of time, usually several months to a few years. People with temporary status may be able to transition to permanent residence in some cases.
How Do I Get My Permanent Resident Card?
Once you have been granted Permanent Resident Status, you will be issued a Permanent Resident Card (PR Card). Your PR Card will be directly mailed to your Canadian address. It is thus crucial that you submit your correct mailing address to IRCC. The card should arrive within a few weeks.
You are required to carry a PR card when entering Canada. Your PR Card proves that you are a permanent resident. If you are outside Canada without a PR card, you can apply for a Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTD) in order to return to Canada. The Permanent Resident Travel Document processing time is usually between 3-6 weeks.
Losing your PR Status or your PR Card:
If you lost your PR Card, in that it was physically lost, damaged, stolen, or expired, you have not lost your permanent resident status.
Losing your PR card, and losing your PR status, are two different things. Losing your PR Card does not mean that you stop being a permanent resident. If you lost your PR Card, you will have to apply for a new PR Card. If you are outside of Canada, you will need someone to forward you the PR Card, or apply for a PR Travel Document before being allowed to return to Canada on a commercial vehicle (airplane, train, etc.). If you drive into Canada in a personal vehicle, it may be possible to cross the border without your PR card.
Losing your permanent residency status means that you are no longer a permanent resident. One legal obligation of permanent residents is that they must physically reside in Canada for at least two years of the last five years. When someone loses their permanent residency status, it is often due to failing to meet this presence requirement. You can also lose your PR status for other reasons, such as being convicted of a serious crime.
If you lose your PR status, you have 60 days to appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division. There may have been a valid exception to the physical residency requirement, like if you were employed abroad, or there may be sufficient humanitarian and compassionate grounds to explain and overcome the breach of the physical residency requirement.
Permanent Resident Card Renewal:
The expiry date of your PR Card is printed on the Card itself. Some PR Cards expire after one year, but most only expire after five years.
A permanent resident card renewal application can take a long time. If your application is not delayed and you clearly meet all the requirements, it will take approximately three months to receive your new PR Card.
It is possible to apply for urgent processing of your PR Card if you are travelling within the next three months. However, there is no guarantee that your PR Card will be ready on time, even if you apply for urgent processing. It is important to apply early, and to provide accurate information to make sure your application isn’t delayed.
Permanent residents can become Citizens
Permanent residents can apply to become Canadian citizens if they meet the requirements. The basic requirements are to have lived physically in Canada as a permanent resident for at least 3 of the past 5 years, to have been filing income tax returns for the same period, and to speak moderate English or French. An application for citizenship usually takes about one year to process. Canada allows dual citizenship so the applicant can keep their original citizenship as long as their home country allows this.
A qualified and experienced immigration lawyer can help if you are applying for permanent residence, especially if you have a more complicated case. Consulting with an immigration lawyer is particularly important to ensure that you are in fact qualified to apply, and to make sure that your application is prepared, filed and processed properly.
At the Law Office of Matthew Jeffery, we are experts on Express Entry, Family Sponsorship, and all other types of permanent residence applications. We have years of experience successfully assisting our clients to navigate Canada’s complex immigration system.
You can use our FREE Express Entry CRS Calculator and Assessment Form, our FREE Family Sponsorship Assessment Form, or CONTACT US today to see whether we can assist you with your immigration matters.