What You Need to Know About Maintaining Permanent Resident Status

Once you become a permanent resident, you are authorized to live and work in Canada for the rest of your life. It is difficult to lose this status once you have acquired it. In fact, there are only two ways that you can lose permanent resident status:

  1. If you commit a serious crime; and
  2. If you fail to maintain physical residence.

Although it is unusual for permanent residents to lose status, all should be aware that certain acts could result in deportation. The only way to ensure that you can remain in Canada permanently, without condition, is to become a Canadian Citizen.

Crimes

Commission of a serious crime has become one of the most common reasons for deporting a non-citizen from Canada. What constitutes a crime that is worthy of deportation varies on a case-by-case basis. It is strongly suggested that any non-citizen who has been sentenced to time in jail seeks the counsel of an immigration attorney. The consequences of committing a crime as a non-citizen are serious, and require prudent legal advice from a qualified representative.

The Residency Obligation

In order to meet the Canadian residency obligation, you must be physically present in Canada for at least half of the last five years. If you haven't been a permanent resident of Canada for five years, then you need to show that you can meet the residence requirement at the five-year mark.

For practical purposes, you only need to show that you meet the physical presence requirement at the time that you apply for a new Permanent Resident Card - but it is something that you should be thinking about each time you take a trip outside of Canada. You need to be careful that you spend at least half of your time living in Canada, or you risk losing your permanent resident status.

If you are someone who spends a lot of time outside Canada, then you should be aware of some exceptions that might help you meet the Residency Requirement. Specifically, time spent outside the country while accompanying a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, or while working for a Canadian organization, may count as time spent inside Canada, in certain circumstances.

Employment Outside of Canada

You may count each day you worked outside Canada for a Canadian organization or affiliated organization or in the public service of Canada. You can also count time you spent outside the country as a client of a Canadian business or the Canadian public service.

To qualify, you must show that you worked in a full-time capacity, and you must be able to show an employment relationship or contract.

Accompanying a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident Outside of Canada

This exception is even more limited. It allows you to count days spent outside Canada towards fulfilling the residency requirement if you are accompanying your spouse or common law partner, or if you are a child under 22 years of age and you are accompanying your parent, but only if your Canadian citizen or permanent resident relative was employed on a full-time basis by a Canadian business or in the public service of Canada or of a province during the period you accompanied him or her. In addition, you must be able to show that your permanent resident relative meets his or her own residency obligation.

Let's break this down: You can count days spent outside of Canada in order to meet the residence requirement if you are accompanying your Canadian citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent, but only if your spouse or parent is employed by a Canadian organization during the specified travel, and only if your spouse or parent meets his or her own residency requirement.

In practice, it is hard to see how this exception could be helpful, unless you've spent so much time out of the country that every extra day counts.

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