Understand permanent resident status

Permanent residents (PRs) of Canada must carry and present their valid PR card or permanent resident travel document (PRTD) when boarding a flight to Canada, or travelling to Canada on any other commercial carrier. If you do not carry your PR card or PRTD, you may not be able to board your flight, train, bus or boat to Canada.

It is your responsibility to ensure that your PR card is still valid when you return from travel outside Canada, and to apply for a new PR card when your current card expires. If your PR card expires, it does not mean you have lost permanent resident status.

A permanent resident is someone who has been given permanent resident status by immigrating to Canada, but is not a Canadian citizen. Permanent residents are citizens of other countries.

A person in Canada temporarily, like a student or foreign worker, is not a permanent resident.

Refugees who are resettled from overseas become permanent residents through the Government-Assisted Refugee Program or the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.

Someone who makes a refugee claim in Canada does not become a permanent resident at that time. To become one, the Immigration and Refugee Board must first approve their claim. Then, they must apply for and get permanent resident status.

The permanent resident (PR) card

Your PR card can be used to show that you have permanent resident status in Canada. If you travel outside Canada, you will need to show your card and your passport when you come back on a commercial vehicle, like an airplane, boat, train or bus.

PRs traveling outside Canada who do not have a valid PR card, or who are not carrying it, need to apply for a permanent resident travel document before returning to Canada by commercial vehicle.

What permanent residents can do

As a permanent resident, you have the right to:

  • get most social benefits that Canadian citizens receive, including health care coverage,
  • live, work or study anywhere in Canada,
  • apply for Canadian citizenship,
  • protection under Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

You must pay taxes and respect all Canadian laws at the federal, provincial and municipal levels.

What permanent residents cannot do

You are not allowed to:

  • vote or run for political office,
  • hold some jobs that need a high-level security clearance.

Time spent living in Canada

When you are a permanent resident, you can live outside of Canada, but must live in Canada for at least two years in a five-year period. If you live outside of Canada for longer, you may lose your permanent resident status.

For more information on how long you have to live in Canada, see Appendix A: Residency obligation of the PR card application package.

Losing your permanent resident status

You don’t lose your permanent resident status when your PR card expires. You can only lose your status if you go through an official process.

You can lose your permanent resident status if:

  • an adjudicator determines you are no longer a permanent resident after an inquiry or PRTD appeal;
  • you voluntarily renounce your permanent resident status;
  • a removal order is made against you and comes into force; or
  • you become a Canadian citizen.

Even if you don't meet the residency obligation, you are still a PR until an official decision is made on your status.

Voluntarily giving up (renouncing) permanent resident status

Losing your permanent resident status does not happen automatically.

There may come a time when you no longer want to be a permanent resident of Canada.  If so, you can apply to voluntarily give up (renounce) your permanent resident status.

For example, if you:

  • know you have not met your residency obligations by being outside of Canada for a long period of time, and
  • would like to visit Canada, and
  • do not want to wait for a visa officer to do a formal assessment of your permanent resident status

OR

  • would like to avoid processing delays at the Port of Entry

You may not be able to enter Canada until your permanent resident status is resolved either by receiving a permanent resident travel document or by voluntarily giving up your permanent resident status.

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