What is Permanent Residence?

Permanent Residence is a status bestowed on foreigners in Canada by the Canadian government so that foreigners can live and work (and study) in Canada on a permanent basis, often with the goal of becoming a Canadian citizen. Think of it as the middle step between temporary residence and citizenship.

Canada grants permanent residence for three primary reasons: to work in Canada, to reunite families and to allow displaced persons to live safely and securely. Permanent Residence has to be applied for separately; if you are not yet a Permanent Resident, you cannot apply for a PR Card.


Becoming a Canadian Permanent Resident

You can become a permanent resident in Canada as a worker (“economic” applications), or by getting sponsored by someone is already either a Canadian permanent resident or citizen, or by qualifying for permanent residence as a refugee (either through the UNHCR or through private sponsorship).


Economic Permanent Residence Applications for Canadian PR

There are three main ways people can become permanent residents of Canada for “economic” reasons: because of work experience in Canada, because of education and skilled work experience abroad, and because they want to invest in Canada.


Canadian Work Experience Applications for Canadian PR

  1. The primary way foreigners with Canadian work experience (in certain occupations) can apply for Permanent Residence is through the Canadian Experience Class, now administered through Express Entry. Note: you must have work in a skilled occupation for at least one year to qualify.
  2. There is one occupation-specific stream: Live-in caregivers who have worked in Canada for the required amount of time can apply for permanent residence.
  3. Finally, the individual provinces are allowed to nominate certain workers with Canadian experience for permanent residence; though these programs are usually intended for people working in skilled jobs, there are some programs for “semi-skilled” occupations as well.


Foreign Skilled Workers Applying for Canadian PR

  1. If you have education and work experience in a skilled occupation, you may be able to apply for permanent residence in Canada without having worked here first; this program is now administered through Express Entry.
  2. There is a similar program for people with education and experience in skilled trades, also administered through Express Entry.


Foreign Entrepreneurs/Investors Applying for Canadian PR

  1. If you are rich enough, you can invest in Canada or open a business.
  2. Some provinces have their own business/investor programs, and these programs require a lower asset threshold than the federal program.


Family Sponsorship for Canadian Permanent Residence

Note: sponsorship programs are only for permanent residence, not citizenship.

There are three types family members permanent residents or citizens can sponsor for PR:

  1. Spouses
  2. Children
  3. Parents/Grandparents

Some of the provinces allow for other relatives to be sponsored, but usually require the permanent resident or citizen to own a business.


Refugees Applying for Canadian PR

Refugees come to Canada either through UNHCR or through private sponsorship.


Once you “land” in Canada as a permanent resident, you will be issued a PR Card.


Rights of Canadian Permanent Residents

Canadian Permanent Residents are entitled to most of the rights Canadian Citizens are entitled to, except that Permanent Residents cannot

  • vote in elections
  • run for public office
  • apply for certain government jobs which require citizenship.

Otherwise, Permanent Residents can live, work and study in Canada just as citizens can. They can own property and they must pay taxes.


Maintaining Canadian Permanent Residence

In order to remain a permanent residence, you must both comply with the Residency Obligation and comply with all Canadian laws. If you do not comply with either, you could lose your permanent residence.


Losing Canadian Permanent Residence

There are two main ways in which a Canadian Permanent Resident can lose their status in Canada:

Learn more about losing your PR status.

A third way is to give up your status voluntarily. You can learn more about why you might want to do that here.


What is a Permanent Resident Card?