Congratulations on being approved for Permanent Residence! Now that you’ve achieved this important milestone, we are pleased to share with you our best suggestions to make sure everything goes well from here.
Ensure you have actually “Landed” as a Permanent Resident
It’s not enough to receive notification that your PR application was approved, or to receive your Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) documents. Your COPR documents will have an expiry date and you must be “landed” as a Permanent Resident before that date.
Becoming a landed permanent resident can happen in different ways. If you are outside Canada when your application for Permanent Residence is approved, you will become landed when you arrive in Canada for the first time, either at a land port of entry or a Canadian airport. If you are flying to Canada, ensure you have at least 3 hours layover in the first Canadian airport you will enter. This is where an officer will complete the process for you to actually become a PR. You need plenty of time for this before you can board any connecting flights. This is the date your PR status will begin.
If you are inside Canada when approved for Permanent Residence, and you have valid temporary status, you can either make an appointment with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for a permanent resident landing interview; or you can leave Canada and re-enter either by flying back or driving to a land border with the US.
We recommend the first one, to get a landing appointment inside Canada – unless your temporary status is about to expire; then you will have to travel to a port of entry. To arrange a landing appointment inside Canada, contact the IRCC Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100 . You will be notified of the date and time of your landing interview at the IRCC office nearest you. This is more reliable than driving to a land border to be landed if you have the choice. The ports of entry are busy places staffed by enforcement officers (CBSA) whose job it is to catch people doing something wrong. It can be easy to find yourself in unexpected trouble. It is better to meet with an immigration officer inside Canada whose job is to administer the Immigration Act properly, and we have found the process generally goes more smoothly. Your permanent residency will start on this date.
You will need to provide a Canadian mailing address to allow IRCC to mail your first permanent resident card to you. IRCC will not send permanent resident cards to an address outside of Canada. You should receive your first permanent resident card in a few weeks.
COVID note: In Oct 2020, a new process was developed for landing as a Permanent Resident during the COVID pandemic. To reduce the amount of in person contact needed to finalize one’s PR status in Canada, immigration authorities started emailing a letter to applicants inside Canada whose applications for Permanent Residence were approved.
Spend time inside Canada
Once you officially obtain Permanent Resident status in Canada, you will need to live in Canada for at least 2 years out of every 5 year period. The 2 years need not be consecutive, meaning you could live one day in Canada and the next day somewhere else on a regular basis and you would still meet the residency requirement. The 5-year period of time is a rolling calculation, which means that every day starts a new 5-year look back period.
Keep a record of your travels outside of Canada
It is up to you to be able to prove the time you spend inside Canada. A good recommendation is to always keep your boarding cards when flying, and ask to have your passport stamped whenever possible. If you are travelling by car into the United States, stop and get gas on both sides whenever you cross the border. The receipts will prove when you entered the US and when you returned to Canada. Later, you will either need to renew your PR card or you will apply for Canadian Citizenship. In both cases, you will need to confirm all the dates you were inside and outside of Canada. It’s much easier if you keep good records starting now.
Know the requirements of the program that you were approved under
If your application for Permanent Residence required that you demonstrate a certain level of savings in order to be approved, you will need to demonstrate that you still have that level of funds during your landing appointment. Ensure that you provide recent bank statements, that you have monitored the currency conversion rates to ensure your savings meet the minimum required Canadian dollar equivalency, and that you have also checked the most recent settlement funds levels of IRCC if you applied in one calendar year but are landing in the following year (required funds are updated yearly).
In some applications, you are required to be moving to Canada immediately upon landing as a Permanent Resident (Spouse or common-law partner sponsorship), and in other applications, you can enter Canada to “land” but then return overseas and move to Canada at a later date, in time to meet your residency requirement.
If you are a Provincial Nominee, you are required to live in the province that nominated you and establish a permanent address there. Expect to get questions at the port of entry if your onward ticket is not to that province.
Keep your original Confirmation of Permanent Residence document
You will need your original COPR document when it’s time to apply for Canadian Citizenship. Make an electronic copy and keep the original in a safe place.
Don’t leave Canada until you have your PR card
It will take approximately 2 months to receive your first PR card after landing as a Permanent Resident. You will not be able to board commercial transportation to return to Canada without your PR card, even if you are from a visa exempt country. If you need to depart Canada before you receive your first PR card, keep in mind that you will need to wait overseas until you can have someone retrieve your mail and send the card to you; or you will need to apply for a Permanent Resident Travel Document from your nearest Canadian visa office.
Always maintain a valid PR card
Your first PR card will be valid for five years. Renewals can take up to 6 months, so plan to renew well ahead of the date that your first card will expire, because you won’t be able to travel to Canada by air unless you have a valid PR card. This also applies to those who are able to travel to Canada without a visa because of your country of nationality. With the introduction of the Electronic travel Authorization, or eTA, even visa exempt individuals are also required to have a valid PR card (except for US citizens). You can no longer travel with your passport alone, and you can’t obtain an eTA as a Permanent Resident.
Apply for Citizenship
If you are planning to make Canada your permanent home, we recommend that you apply for Citizenship as soon as you are eligible, particularly if you plan to raise a family in Canada. Permanent Residents can lose their status in certain situations that Citizens cannot.
You are eligible to apply for Canadian Citizenship as soon as you have lived in Canada as a Permanent Resident for a total of 3 years within a 5-year period of time, and you can include up to one year of the time that you lived in Canada before becoming a PR. Time spent in Canada as a temporary resident before obtaining PR status is counted as ½ days. For example, if you lived in Canada as a temporary resident for 2 years before landing as a PR, you can claim 1 year of residency towards your 3 out of 5 year Citizenship requirement, and apply for Canadian Citizenship after you have been a PR for 2 years.
File your Canadian taxes each year
Your tax filing documents are an important component to your future applications for Citizenship or PR card renewal. It’s important that you file your annual Canadian income tax on time.
Stay out of legal trouble
Permanent Residents are eligible to be deported if they are convicted of a crime inside Canada. If you are a Permanent Resident and find yourself in legal trouble, it’s very important for your defense lawyer to be familiar with the immigration implications of any proposed sentence in your case, BEFORE your criminal case is finalized.
At The Way Immigration, we are always available to answer your questions related to Permanent Residence in Canada, to help you with any issues that arise after you become a Permanent Resident, to help you sponsor family members from overseas, and to assist with your application for Canadian Citizenship.