Canadian Residency Requirements

By Josie Sison Livingstone
Canadian permanent residents need to meet physical presence requirements.

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Immigrants who come to Canada as skilled professionals, business immigrants or sponsored immigrants can apply for the privilege of becoming permanent residents of the country. But this privilege carries a responsibility: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) requires permanent residents to follow residency requirements in order to maintain their permanent resident status.

Physical Presence

You must be physically present in Canada for at least two years, or 730 days, out of each five-year period. The 730 days do not need to be consecutive.

Absence from Canada

The number of days you spent outside Canada may be counted towards your residency obligation if you are accompanying a Canadian citizen who is your spouse or common-law partner. If you are less than 22 years old, and you are accompanying your Canadian citizen parent, your days outside Canada can also be counted as fulfilling residency obligation. You must, however, provide documents to prove your relationship to the person you are accompanying and to prove that the person you are accompanying is a Canadian citizen. Acceptable documents include a marriage license, birth certificate and school or employment records. If you are accompanying a permanent resident, your days outside Canada will only count if the person you are accompanying is a spouse or parent who is employed full time by a Canadian business or by the federal or provincial governments of Canada. Your days outside Canada also count if you worked abroad for a Canadian business or Canadian federal or provincial public service. You must, however, provide a letter of declaration signed by an official of the business stating the details of your assignment and the nature of the business.

Serious Crime

If you were convicted of a serious crime, such as drug trafficking, assault or a weapons offense, you may be deported from Canada, and lose your permanent resident status.

Permanent Resident Card

The CIC automatically gives you a permanent resident card as part of the immigration process. This card is the official proof of your permanent resident status in Canada; you need to show this if you are re-entering Canada. If you became a permanent resident before June 28, 2002, you did not receive a permanent resident card: instead, you were issued an Immigrant Visa and Record of Landing. You may need this document if you want to obtain a permanent resident card. You can apply for a replacement card if yours is expired, lost or stolen (see Resources).

About the Author

Josie Sison Livingstone is a real estate agent based in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. She worked as a journalist for more than 15 years—as a reporter for ABS-CBN, the Philippines' largest broadcast network, as an associate producer for Rogers TV, and as a writer for “The Daily Gleaner” and “Riverside Neighbors." Josie holds a Bachelor of Science in commerce from De La Salle University.

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