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Permanent Residency in Canada

Updated: April 24th, 2023


Edited by Kirat Sekhon

If you immigrate to Canada, you can be categorized as a temporary or permanent resident. If you are a permanent resident of Canada, you may have Permanent Residency (PR), but this does not mean you are a Canadian citizen. At this point, you are most likely still a citizen of another country.

If you are temporarily studying or working in Canada as an international student or a foreign worker, you are not a permanent resident. This also applies if you are a tourist visiting Canada. Let's look at the requirements for Canada permanent residency (PR) and what you can and can't do as a permanent resident.

What Permanent Residency in Canada Means

Becoming a permanent resident means you have the right to live, work and study in Canada indefinitely. You are treated as a member of the Canadian population and are afforded all of the rights and responsibilities of the Canadian people.

As a Canadian Permanent Resident, You Can:
Receive social benefits (for example, access to Medicare, Canada's government healthcare program)
Live, study, or work in Canada (so long as you meet the requirements of the province or territory you choose to live in)
Apply for Canadian citizenship
Receive protection as a permanent resident (the Canadian government must protect you under their law system and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms)

But there are also things you are not entitled to do as a permanent resident of Canada. For example, you cannot vote, run for political office, or have a job with a high-level security clearance.

The Top Canada PR Programs

Now that you know what it means to have Canada PR, it's time to break down how you can get yours. Here are the three most popular ways of getting Canada PR.

Express Entry

According to CIC News, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued 46,538 Invitations to Apply (ITA) for permanent residency via the Express Entry system. This makes Express Entry one of the biggest immigration drivers in Canada, as the total goal of immigrants welcomed in 2024 is 485,000.

What is Express Entry?

Express Entry is an online immigration system that manages three federal programs:

Foreign skilled workers can apply through the Express Entry system to gain Canadian permanent residency.

Not only can you become a permanent resident, but you can do so within as little as six months, making the Express Entry system one of the fastest immigration programs in Canada.

How to Apply for Express Entry:

Step 1: Determine Eligibility

Determine if you meet the minimum requirements for Express Entry and which of the three programs you qualify for. If you meet the requirements, you'll get a list of instructions on what to do next. Included in that list is creating an online profile.

Step 2: Create an Express Entry Profile

To create an Express Entry profile, you must answer questions regarding your age, work experience, qualifications, language ability and other factors. You may need to submit supporting documents if required. You'll then receive a Comprehensive Ranking System(CRS) score based on your answers which will also determine your ranking within the Express Entry pool.

Step 3: Receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA)

If you meet or exceed the qualifying CRS score of a particular Express Entry draw, you'll receive an ITA. Getting an ITA means that you now have the opportunity to apply for Canadian permanent residency.

Please note that if you receive an invitation to apply, you must submit your application for permanent residence within 60 days.

Provincial Nominee Programs

One of the best ways to get permanent residency in Canada is through the Provincial Nominee Program(PNP).

The PNP is designed for skilled foreign workers with the skills, education, and work experience to contribute to a province's economy and who want to live in Canada permanently.

An agreement was made between the local provinces and the government that enables the provinces to nominate skilled foreign workers to become permanent residents. Depending on your skills and the needs of a particular province, you can apply to these 11 provinces and territories:

How to Apply for a Provincial Nomination

This will depend on the PNP stream you're applying to. You may apply via the paper-based process or online via the Express Entry process.

Paper-based Process:

  • Apply to the province or territory for nomination under a non-Express Entry stream;
  • You need to meet the eligibility requirements of the province that nominates you;
  • Once you've been nominated, you need to submit a paper application for permanent residence to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC); and
  • You are required to pass a medical exam and get a police clearance certificate. You must do these checks regardless of where you plan to live in Canada.

Good to know:

This route to permanent residency takes much longer than through Express Entry. Express Entry Process:

You have two choices when applying via the Express Entry system. You can either:

  1. Contact the province or territory and apply for an Express Entry stream nomination. If the province agrees to nominate you, you create an Express Entry profile and show you that you've been nominated; or
  2. Create an Express Entry profile and show the provinces you're interested in. If the province sends a notification of interest to your profile, you can contact them directly. You may also apply to their Express Entry stream.

You should always try to apply to a province or territory where your skills or occupation are in demand. This will increase your success in receiving a nomination and permanent residency. This map shows you which occupations are in demand in each of Canada’s provinces:

Family Sponsorship

The Family Sponsorship program allows Canadian citizens, persons registered under the Indian Act, and permanent residents of Canada to sponsor their family members. But first, let's look closer at the spouse, partner, and child sponsorship.

Sponsors must:

  • Be 18 years or older;
  • Be a Canadian citizen; person registered under the Canadian Indian Act or permanent resident of Canada;
  • Prove they aren't receiving social assistance unless it's for a disability; and
  • Provide for the basic needs of whoever they're sponsoring.

Persons eligible to sponsor may sponsor the following family members:

  • Their spouse;
  • Common-law partner;
  • Their conjugal partner; and
  • Their dependent children.

An advantage of immigrating to Canada via the family sponsorship program is that you can move to Canada as a permanent resident.

Temporary Residence to Permanent Residence in Canada

Suppose you can't fulfill the eligibility criteria for Canada PR or don't have time to wait out the processing times. In that case, you can still become a permanent resident from within Canada if you live and work there on a temporary residence visa. Likewise, if you're a worker, your work experience while studying does not contribute to the requirements of the CEC program.

The CEC offers prospective immigrants a chance to settle in Canada regardless of the NOC. If you are a student, you can apply for the CEC if you qualify for the work criteria. However, most students apply for a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) when they're done studying. This program is also a temporary visa but can lead itself to CEC or even Canadian PR through the Express Entry System.

If you still need to determine which Canada PR program is right for you, you should speak to a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC). RCICs are immigration experts certified by the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC) and can fully evaluate you to find the program. They can also fill out your application forms, set up your online profiles, help you gather and verify your required documentation, represent you with certain government authorities, and provide you with the guidance and support you need for a successful application.

How Do I Keep my Canada PR Status?

To remain a Canadian permanent resident, you must meet a residency obligation, meaning you must physically be in Canada for a specified time. The current residency obligation is for a permanent resident to be in Canada for at least 730 days within five years unless you meet any of the following exceptions:

  • Your spouse or common-law partner is a Canadian citizen, and you are accompanying them while outside of Canada;
  • If you are a child accompanying your parents outside of Canada;
  • You're outside of Canada for work purposes and are employed full-time by a Canadian business;
  • Your spouse or common-law partner is a Canadian citizen. You accompany them for work outside of Canada for business (full-time employment) or in public service in Canada or a Canadian province.

Your Canadian Permanent Resident Card

You must take your Permanent Resident Card if you wish to travel abroad. You can use it to provide proof that you are a Canadian permanent resident, and it can be used to re-enter Canada's borders.

If you have lost your Permanent Resident Card, you will need a permanent resident travel document to return to Canada. This document can only be used once to enter Canada.

Losing Your Permanent Residency in Canada

You cannot automatically lose your PR status in Canada, nor does it expire. However, your PR card can expire and need to be renewed. You must go through an official process for your permanent residence status to be lost.

You Can Lose Your Permanent Residency in Canada if You:

Applied with false documentation for either permanent residency, Canadian citizenship, or any other application
Gave falsified information from your sponsor
Gave falsified information for a refugee claim
committed a serious crime, either before or after becoming a Canadian permanent resident (unless you receive a pardon for your crime or meet other requirements)
Lived more than three years in five years outside of Canada
Are believed to be a danger to the Canadian government due to the following:
  1. Spying
  2. Treason
  3. Terrorism or
  4. Your classification as a security risk
Belonged to a terrorist or criminal organization or
committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, or human rights violations

10 Quick Tips to Submit a Successful Canada PR Application

  • Get a professional immigration evaluation.
  • Enlist the professional help of RCICs
  • Gather your documents in advance.
  • Double-check document expiration dates.
  • Read the Instructions Carefully
  • Never Lie on Your PR Application
  • Make sure to fill in all the gaps in your Canada PR application.
  • Prepare for your Canada immigration interview.
  • Know what PR fees to expect.

Start Your Journey to An Amazing Life in Canada

Navigating the Canadian immigration system can be tedious, with many forms and documents to complete and strict submission dates to adhere to. But that's what we're here for. At, we take the stress and hassle out of planning to relocate abroad. Our accredited RCICs are ready to evaluate your eligibility, review all documentation, and submit all documentation on your behalf.

Using an RCIC gives you the best chance of receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residency in Canada and will make the entire process simple and stress-free. We handle the paperwork while you prepare to live your Canadian dream and eventually become a Canadian permanent resident. It's just that simple.


How Long Do You Need to Spend to Keep Your Permanent Resident Status in Canada?

If you are a permanent resident, you must spend at least two cumulative years in five years in Canada. Suppose you spend more than three years in another country, not Canada. In that case, you can lose your permanent resident status.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Permanent Resident in Canada?

This, firstly, depends on the immigration program you've chosen; for example, processing times for Express Entry ranges from 6 to 8 months, whereas other programs, such as Family sponsorship, can take up to a year or longer. It also depends on whether Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have the necessary documents to complete the application process.

On average, it takes about 45 days to process PR cards for new applicants once IRCC has received everything they need to process the application. Renewed cards can take around 104 days to process.

Can You Stay in Canada While Waiting for Permanent Residency?

Yes, you can, as long as your status remains legal. Those with temporary residence status can stay in Canada for a specified time. This must remain valid while waiting for your Canada PR status approval.

Do I Need a Visa if I Have Canadian PR?

No. You can enter Canada without an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) or visitor's visa. However, it is recommended that you always carry your PR card when traveling.

Can I Get PR in Canada After one year?

Yes. There are various ways to do this, but perhaps the best way, if you don't qualify for an immigration program, is to get a Canada work visa or study a 1-year course in Canada and apply for a PGWP. Then, once you have at least one year of Canadian work experience, you can apply for permanent residency through the CEC.

Can I get PR in Canada After Studying in Canada and Completing a 2-year Program?

No, but studying in Canada can open the doors to permanent residency. All students who have completed at least an eight-month study program at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) may be eligible to apply to stay and work in Canada through programs like the PGWP Programs.

This will allow you to get the necessary Canadian work experience to apply for permanent residence in Canada through programs like the CEC.

Can I Go To the USA With Canadian PR?

All Canadian permanent residents will need a nonimmigrant visa to enter the US unless they are from a participating country in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), meet the VWP requirements, and want to visit for 90 days or less under the program.

Can I Work in the USA With Canadian PR?

No. You can't work in the USA with a Canada PR card. You will need a US visa to work in the US as a permanent Canadian resident.

Which Countries Can I Travel to With a Canadian PR Card?

The great part about being a Canadian permanent resident is the benefits you receive in Canada and when you leave. If you enjoy traveling, you will be able to travel to the following countries visa-free just by being a Canada PR holder:

  • All Dutch Caribbean territories (90 days)
  • Bermuda (maximum six months)
  • British Virgin Island (up to 6 months)
  • Cayman Islands (60 days)
  • Costa Rica (30 days, PR card must be valid for more than six months)
  • Cuba (30 days, PR card, and a current and valid passport required)
  • Dominican Republic (60 days)
  • El Salvador (not applicable to all nationalities)
  • Georgia (90 days in 180 days)
  • Guatemala (not applicable to all nationalities)
  • Honduras (not applicable to all nationalities)
  • Jamaica (up to 6 months)
  • Mexico (6 months)
  • Nicaragua (90 days within 180 days, not applicable to all nationalities)
  • Panama (30 days or 180 days)
  • Philippines (30 days)
  • Qatar (30 days)
  • South Korea (30 days when in transit, not applicable to all nationalities)
  • Taiwan (30 days, online registration required, only applicable to certain nationalities)
  • Turks and Caicos Islands (90 days)

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