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January 31, 2024

Is there a residency requirement for Canadian citizenship?

Part of maintaining your permanent resident (PR) status in Canada is meeting a residency requirement.

In other words, to avoid losing PR status, those who immigrate to this country must reside in Canada for a minimum of 730 days* over the last five years.

*The 730 days (two years) used to meet the PR residency requirement do not need to be continuous

In some cases, time spent outside of Canada may count towards the 730-day residency requirement for Canadian PRs. As an example, this may conditionally apply to PRs who work outside of Canada (for a Canadian business or organization or for a federal, provincial or territorial government) or travel abroad with their spouse/common-law partner. Time spent abroad may also count towards the residency requirement for dependent children who are PRs in Canada but must travel with their parent(s).

Schedule a Free Canadian Citizenship Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

Details on who is eligible to have their time abroad counted towards Canada’s PR residency requirement can be found on this Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada(IRCC) help centre page.

Is there a residency requirement for Canadian citizenship?

While a residency requirement is imposed on those with valid PR status in Canada, it is understandable that some foreign nationals – particularly people who are in the early stages of considering the transition from PR to Canadian citizen – may be unclear about whether there is a similar requirement once they obtain citizenship.

More: If I gain Canadian permanent residence, do I have to become a citizen?

Simply put, there are no residency requirements placed on Canadian citizens. As a Canadian citizen with a Canadian passport, you can travel abroad for as long as you would like without fear of losing your citizenship (more on that below).

Reasons you may lose your Canadian citizenship

Briefly, IRCC notes that there are three reasons that a Canadian can have their citizenship revoked. These include:

False Representation/Misrepresentation
Knowingly concealing material circumstances

Note: “Material circumstances” may include such things as the amount of time spent residing or being physically present in Canada

Click here for more details on Canadian citizenship revocation from the Government of Canada.

More key information about PR status in Canada

The following will cover other key areas of focus related to understanding PR status in Canada. More details can be found on this Government of Canada page.

The importance of a PR card

A Canadian immigrant’s PR card is proof that they have obtained PR status. It serves as a mandatory identification document when leaving/returning to Canada and must be presented alongside a passport or refugee travel document by any PR travelling abroad and returning on a commercial vehicle (airplane, train, bus etc.).

Those who are travelling outside of Canada without a valid PR card must apply for a Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTD) prior to returning to Canada.

What Canadian PRs can and cannot do

As a Canadian PR, you may not vote or run for political office in Canada. Additionally, PRs in Canada cannot obtain certain jobs that require high-level security clearance.

On the other hand, there are several benefits that you can enjoy in Canada as a PR. They include:

Eligibility for “most social benefits that Canadian citizens receive”, including a social insurance number (SIN) to work in Canada, and health care coverage
The ability to live, work or study anywhere in Canada
Eligibility to apply for Canadian citizenship
“Protection under Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”

Why PRs may lose their status

The four primary reasons that a PR may lose their status in this country include:

If an IRCC officer “determines [the individual is] no longer a PR after an inquiry or PRTD appeal following a refusal”
If someone voluntarily renounces their PR status
If someone becomes the subject of an enforced removal order
If someone becomes a Canadian citizen

Note: PRs in Canada do not lose their status if their PR card expires and will remain a PR until an official status decision is passed down by IRCC even if they do not meet the residency requirement

Click here for more information on why a Canadian PR may lose their status.

Schedule a Free Canadian Citizenship Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm