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Once you become a Canada permanent resident, this status may be maintained indefinitely as long as you continue to meet the basic residency requirement: you must live in Canada for at least two years within a 5-year period.

The Government of Canada offers some exceptions to this requirement for permanent residents employed abroad by Canadian businesses or travelling outside of Canada with a qualified spouse, partner, or parent. Additionally, in the case of considerable hardship, a permanent resident unable to meet the requirement may apply to retain residency on Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) grounds.

 

How long must one live in Canada to maintain their permanent resident status?

In order to maintain permanent resident status, one must physically live in Canada for at least two years (or 730 days) within a 5-year period. The two years do not need to be continuous, meaning that any accumulation of 730 days of residency within five years counts towards the requirement.

Partial days in the country also count towards the Canadian residency requirement. If you are a permanent resident of Canada who works in the US several days a week but returns home to Canada each night, no days are lost towards your 730-day obligation. As long as the resident returns to Canada within 24 hours, 100% of partial days spent in Canada count towards the residency requirement.

The burden to prove that the residency requirement is met falls entirely on the resident. Thus, it is essential to maintain careful records of travel every time you leave Canada. This includes visa stamps, plane tickets, hotel bookings, and proof of work assignments overseas. It is recommended to maintain a travel journal to record all time spent outside of Canada for the 5-year (1825 day) period. 

If you do not have satisfactory proof, even if you meet the requirements, you may lose your permanent resident status. A visa officer will be able to confirm which days count towards the 730-day requirement when you re-enter Canada.

 

Can time abroad count towards permanent resident status? 

In certain situations, the Government of Canada allows time spent abroad to count towards the residency requirement.  

A permanent resident can maintain their official residence in Canada while employed abroad if the individual is one of the following:

  • A full-time employee in the public service sector of Canada or a province
  • A full-time employee of a Canadian business with a head office in Canada that controls assignments overseas
  • A contractor working overseas for a Canadian business

A “Canadian business” refers to an enterprise capable of generating revenue with anticipation of making a profit, held by Canadians. 

There is an additional consideration for permanent residents who travel abroad with a spouse or partner who is a Canadian citizen or resident:

  • If a permanent resident accompanies a spouse or partner who is a Canadian citizen outside of Canada, each day outside Canada counts towards the residency requirement.
  • If a permanent resident accompanies a spouse or partner who is also a permanent resident of Canada travel outside of the country, each day outside Canada counts towards the requirement if the spouse or partner is a full-time employee of a Canadian business or in the public service sector of Canada.
  • These requirements also apply to child permanent residents travelling with a parent who is a citizen or permanent resident of Canada.

If you fall into one of the exceptions listed above, you are responsible for keeping all supporting evidence to the satisfaction of the visa officer. When relying on an employment exemption, be sure to keep all relevant documentation from your employer.

 

Are there exceptions in which new immigrants will be exempted from the residency requirement?

In the case of considerable hardship that disallows a permanent resident from meeting the 730-day residency requirement, the individual may apply for an exemption based on Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) grounds. 

This is an emergency option that requires compelling circumstances and heavy documentation. Visa officers will consider factors such as how well you have established yourself in Canada, the medical condition of yourself and your immediate family, and any alternatives you could have taken to avoid this situation. 

Additionally, you will need to show how the loss of permanent resident status would cause further, disproportionate hardship to you or your family. 

Because this is a discretionary process, it is a good idea to hire an immigration lawyer before making a case to a visa officer as you only have one opportunity to make an H&C appeal. 

 

What if my permanent resident card expires while I am outside of Canada?

Permanent resident cards are typically valid for five years, though some are only valid for one year. If your permanent resident card is expiring within six months, you should apply to renew your card.

In the event that your permanent resident card expires (or is lost) while you are outside of Canada, you must apply for a permanent resident travel document (PRTD) in order to return to Canada. You can only apply for a PRTD from outside of Canada. 

A PRTD is normally only valid for a single entry. Once you resume residence in Canada, you should apply to replace your permanent resident card immediately.

 

Maintain permanent residence status and enjoy Canadian life!

Equitable immigration pathways, exciting employment possibilities, and relatively low cost of living make Canada a land of opportunity for many Hong Kongers—that is why Simard & Associates is dedicated to helping you and your family acquire and maintain Canadian residency. Our professional immigration consultants and lawyers can provide you with a wealth of information and advice on this topic.

We offer many services and programs including the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP) to help immigrants and their families enjoy high-quality lives and low cost of living in Quebec, Start-Up Visa Program and Ontario Entrepreneur Program (OINP) to bring entrepreneurs to Canada, as well as the Federal Skilled Workers Program and the Canadian Family Sponsorship Visa.

To find out more about the services and programs we offer, speak with one of our friendly team members directly. Please get in touch today.