What is the Residency Determination?

The Residency Determination is a questionnaire sent to you during a PR card renewal application. If your listed days in Canada on your Permanent Resident Card renewal application fail to meet the residency obligation for permanent residents or the information you provide raises suspicions, you will be sent a Residency Determination. You may even receive a Residency Determination questionnaire as a result of a random selection of your application on the part of immigration officials.

 

Why Did I Get the Residency Determination?

Here are some of the reasons that you may find yourself having to fill out The Residency Determination. Remember, this a two-part form where IRCC (CIC) is seeking more information from you when you apply to renew your PR card. This may be because of the following:

  • If your country of citizenship issues more than one passport at a time, this may raise suspicions at IRCC. Essentially, it raises a red flag over the possibility of identity theft, or passport fraud. The immigration authorities will thus need to confirm that you are the legitimate holder of both your passports. If you use different passports to enter Canada at different times, for example, this may raise red flags at IRCC – provided you gave them permission to get your record of entry from CBSA – and cause them to consider sending you a Residency Determination Questionnaire when you renew your PR card.
  • If you are a dual citizen, this can cause similar problems with IRCC, especially if you enter Canada on different occasions and use either one of your passports to enter Canada. Try to always use the same passport when entering Canada as a new arrival or as a permanent resident. This is the best way of avoiding having a Residency Determination Questionnaire sent to you.
  • If you are sent a residence questionnaire during an application for Canadian citizenship, and you then – for any reason – withdraw your citizenship application, the IRCC may decide your behaviour is suspicious. This can result in your receiving a Residency Determination questionnaire when you next renew your PR card. To avoid this, it is always best to fully answer the residence questionnaire before you abandon your citizenship application. Even so, abandoning a citizenship application – even if it is for valid reasons – may raise red flags at IRCC which can have consequences when you renew your PR Card.
  • If you are self-employed and have to travel a lot outside of the country, you should be careful of how many days outside Canada you spend in any given 5 year period. You are allowed a maximum of 1095 days outside of Canada every 5 years (see below). But if you spend over 750 days (almost 2 years) outside of Canada during a 5 year period, you may find yourself having to fill out a Residency Determination questionnaire when you renew your PR card. If you spend even more time outside the country – close to the 1095 day limit – then you will almost certainly receive a Residency Determination questionnaire when you renew. The best way to avoid this is to limit your time travelling outside Canada, if at all possible.
  • Some countries are considered by the IRCC to be higher risk countries for things like immigration and/or document fraud, and even terrorism. As a self-employed permanent resident who happens to be a citizen of one of these countries, you may very well find you have to fill out a Residency Determination questionnaire when renewing your PR card. The longer you stay in Canada and the less you travel, the less your chances of this happening.
  • If, when you applied for a new PR card, you did NOT consent to let the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) share information on your entries to Canada with IRCC, you will be more likely as well to receive a Residency Determination questionnaire form. You should always consent to this sharing of information as it will make your life as a permanent resident (and hopefully later on as a citizen of Canada) much smoother.
  • If, when filling out your renewal application, you leave gaps in your personal history, this is a red flag for Canadian immigration authorities. Any missing information will make it very likely that you will receive a Residency Determination questionnaire. Make sure you include every address you have resided at as a permanent resident, even if you have to research and contact people to obtain information you have forgotten. Keep careful records in general as a permanent resident. They may prove helpful or even necessary when you renew.
  • If – for any reason at all – you have spent 900 or more days outside of Canada during your 5 years as a permanent resident then you’re begging for the IRCC to send you a Residency Determination questionnaire. Avoid travelling too much outside of Canada unless you absolutely have to. It is best to keep your time spent outside of Canada to some number of days LESS than 750 days every 5 years.

 

What are the residency requirements for Permanent Residents?

  • If you have been a permanent resident of Canada for 5 years or more: you must have been physically present in Canada for a minimum of 730 days.
  • If you have been a permanent resident of Canada for less than 5 years: you must show that you will have met the 730 days of physical presence in Canada within 5 years of the date on which you became a permanent resident.
  • As of August 1, 2014; IRCC’s definition of a “child” changed to under 19 years of age. It was previously under 22 years of age.
  • Keep the above definition of child in mind for the following situations where time spent outside Canada does count towards your residency requirements:
  • If you accompanied a Canadian citizen outside of Canada AND that person is your spouse, common-law partner, or parent (you are the child). Documents accepted as evidence in such a case include:
    • Marriage licences
    • Birth certificates, baptismal certificates
    • Passports or Travel documents
    • Canadian Income Tax NOA – Notice of Assessment from CRA – from the past 2 years
    • School or employment records
    • Documents proving Canadian citizenship of person you are accompanying (mandatory)
    • Evidence of the residence of the person you are accompanying for 5 years before the application (mandatory).
  • If you were employed outside Canada you may count each day employed outside Canada towards your residency requirements if the following applies:
    1. You are an employee or are under contract to a Canadian business or a Canadian public service of the federal or a provincial or territorial government.
    2. You are assigned to a full-time position outside of Canada or to an affiliated enterprise outside Canada or to a client of the company or public service outside Canada. Supporting documents include:
      • Letter signed by an official of the business or service giving the complete details of your work and position as well as the business itself. It should prove your work abroad is not a make-work project to help you satisfy your residency requirements.
      • Articles of incorporation or partnership agreements
      • Tax notices and income tax NOA
      • Pay statements
      • T4 slips.
  • If you accompanied a permanent resident outside of Canada AND the person you accompanied was your spouse, common law partner, or parent (you are the child) AND that person was outside of Canada due to: being employed by a Canadian business or public service on a full-time basis. Supporting documents must prove that:
    1. The person you are accompanying is a permanent resident of Canada
    2. You are the spouse, common-law partner, or child of that person
    3. The person you are accompanying meets their own residency obligations.
  • You may be granted an exemption from meeting your residency requirements on the basis of humanitarian and compassionate grounds. You must present compelling factors concerning your individual case to the IRCC to enable this judgement to take place.

 

Explaining your Residence Questionnaire

As explained above, if you are renewing or replacing your PR card and the IRCC decides that you have not have met your residency requirements or may not have been forthcoming on your application, then you will be sent a Residence Questionnaire. It comes in two parts:

  1. The Absence History Document is form requesting details of your travels outside Canada as well as a section on personal information. You generally have 30 to 60 days to answer this.
  2. IMM 5511 form: This usually is sent after the Absence History Document, if immigration officials feel they need more information.

Receipt of the IMM 5511 usually means you will then be interviewed by an IRCC official. If the official is not satisfied with the answers you provide in the interview, the next step is an interview with a judge. The judge has the power to revoke your status and order you deported if he or she sees fit, but you have the right to appeal.

 

If your appeal is rejected then you lose your permanent resident status and are subject to a removal order.

 

If you are outside of Canada and are applying for PR card renewal or for a Permanent Resident Travel Document, immigration officials in Canada proceed as follows:

PR card applicationRefer to local IRCC office?Can residency determination be made based on paper review?Does applicant need to apply for temporary travel document (PRTD)?Residency determination overseasIssue 5 year or 1 year PR card?Mail to applicant or in person collection?
Application complete and residency requirements metNoYes, positive determinationApplicant may need to apply for PRTD to return to Canada to pick up PR cardNot applicable5 year cardIn-person collection at IRCC office
PR card application requires further investigationYesYes, positive determinationApplicant may need to apply for PRTD to return to Canada to pick up PR cardNot applicable5 year cardIn-person collection at IRCC office
PR card application requires further investigationYesNoYesPositive determination5 year cardIn-person collection at IRCC office
PR card application requires further investigationYesNoYesNegative determination1 year card as result of appealIn-person collection at IRCC office
PR card application requires further investigationYesNoYesNegative determinationNo appeal refuse applicationNot applicable
PR card application requires further investigationYesNoYesApplicant does NOT apply for a PRTD but appears for interview in Canada5 year card if positive
1 year card if negative
In-person collection at IRCC office
PR card application requires further investigationYesNoYesApplicant does NOT apply for PRTD nor appears in Canada within 180 daysDeem application abandonedNot applicable

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