What is permanent resident status?

Permanent residence is a kind of immigration status in Canada. As the name implies, it allows a foreign national to live in Canada permanently, to work, study, and access social services. Having permanent residence gives a foreign national most of the rights and privileges of a Canadian citizen, however a permanent resident does not automatically become a Canadian citizen, but rather retains his or her original citizenship.

Permanent residents also have certain legal obligations that do not apply to Canadian citizens. One of these is to physically reside in Canada for at least two years out of any five year period. This residency obligation is intended to encourage new permanent residents of Canada to settle in the country and to become employed or otherwise contribute to Canadian society.

There are also ways that permanent resident status can be lost that do not apply to Canadian citizens. For example, permanent residents convicted of serious crimes can lose their status as a result. Also, as described above, there is a residency requirement for permanent residents, and those who do not comply with this requirement might also lose their status.

One of the benefits of being a permanent resident is that it allows for eventual transition into Canadian citizenship. For a permanent resident to obtain citizenship they must physically reside in Canada for a certain number of years, then must pass a test showing they understand either the English or French languages, and have an adequate understanding of Canada and its history and culture. Once they become citizens, former permanent residents can obtain a Canadian passport and no longer need to comply with the residency requirement.

FAQ General Immigration