Do you know your rights as a Permanent Resident?

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What is a Permanent Resident?

A permanent resident (PR) is a citizen of another country who is granted the privilege of permanently living in Canada. Just like a citizen, you have the right to enjoy social benefits (such as healthcare, pensions, and other benefits) and protection under the law. You are also expected to pay your taxes and observe the law under the federal, provincial and municipal levels.

It is important to note that persons who are in Canada to work or study temporarily are not PRs. Refugees are not automatic PRs; they would have to undergo a process and apply for the status.  They can become PRs through the Government-Assisted Refugee Program or Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.

Essentially, the difference between a PR and a citizen is that PRs cannot:

  • Vote
  • Hold public office
  • Hold some jobs that need high-level security clearance

To keep your PR status, you are expected to be physically present in Canada for a minimum of 730 days during the last five years as a minimum residency requirement. The 730 days do not have to be continuous.

Remember that permanent residency is a privilege granted to you by the government of Canada.  It can be withdrawn if you do not meet residency obligations, or are convicted of a serious offence (in which case you may be deported). However, this does not happen automatically.  The Government of Canada observes an official process to determine whether or not you are no longer a PR.  If, for any reason, you wish to give up your permanent residency voluntarily, you can check out how you can apply for it here.

What are your rights as a PR?

As a PR, you have the following rights:

  • Receive most social benefits offered by the government to its citizens
  • Protection under Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
  • Live, work, or study in Canada

The Permanent Resident card

The PR card is tangible proof that you are a permanent resident of Canada. You will need to show this card to immigration officials for you to enter and stay in Canada when you return from another country. Usually, the card is mailed to you if your address in Canada is included in your application for permanent residency.  If not (or if you lose your card), you can apply for it. Your PR card is valid for five years, after which you may apply to renew it. Please note that you don’t lose your permanent residency status when you lose your card or when the card expires. You have to undergo an official process if you want to renounce your PR status.

Citizenship eligibility

Permanent Residents can apply for citizenship as long as they meet the eligibility requirements, one of which is that they must have stayed in Canada for at least three years (1,095 days) in the past five years. Go to this page to calculate your time lived in Canada: Physical Presence Calculator. You will have to take a test if you are 18-54 years to show that you know enough about Canada and that you understand the rights and privileges of citizenship. Read Applying for Citizenship: A step-by-step guide to help you sort out the process.
Adapted from the Government of Canada/CIC Understanding Permanent Residency Status.

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Community Resources

To know more about the process of applying for immigration to Canada, go to the Immigration and Citizenship page of the Government of Canada site.

Looking forward to being a Canadian citizen? Read Canadian Citizenship to know all about eligibility requirements, the application process, and the Citizenship Ceremony.


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