Moving from one country to another seems like a simple process from the outside, but most of the time that isn’t the case at all. Part of the complexity of Canadian immigration is the multitude of different terms, phrases and designations that are intended to help immigrants and governments figure out which part of the process everyone is in. One such term is “Permanent Resident Status.”
What Is It?
In Canada, a permanent resident refers to someone who has immigrated to Canada and been given permanent resident status, but is not an official citizen. A permanent resident lives in Canada, but is still a citizen of another country.
People in Canada temporarily, such as foreign exchange students or workers, are not considered permanent residents. Refugees are eligible to become permanent residents, once their refugee claim is approved and then they successfully go through the permanent resident process.
Permanent Resident Rights
Once someone is granted permanent resident status, they assume certain rights. These include:
- Applying for Canadian citizenship.
- Living, working or attending school anywhere in Canada.
- Receiving health care coverage and other social benefits.
With these rights also comes the responsibility of paying taxes and obeying all applicable federal, provincial and municipal laws. Permanent residents are not able to run for public office, vote in Canadian elections or hold a Canadian passport.
Keeping Your Status
To retain your permanent resident status, you must live within Canada for a minimum of two years over a five year period. Living outside Canada is permitted, but if that period of time adds up to more than three years out of five, you may be in danger of losing the status. Being convicted of a serious crime and being told to leave the country is another way to lose permanent resident status.
The Permanent Resident Card
Permanent residents of Canada receive a small, plastic card called the permanent resident card, or PR card. If you are a permanent resident and leave Canada for any reason, you will have to show the card if you come back on a plane, boat, bus or train, but you can use other documents if you return in a private vehicle. Each card is valid for a period of five years, so it is important to check the expiry when leaving the country to ensure it is still valid for your return.
If you need any help with a PR card or receiving permanent resident status, contact the office and we will be happy to help you out.