Congratulations on becoming a Permanent Resident of Canada! Now that you’ve achieved this important milestone, we are pleased to share with you our very best suggestions to help ensure that your future in Canada is as successful as possible.
Ensure that you have actually “Landed” as a Permanent Resident
It’s not enough to simply receive notification that your application for Permanent Residence has been approved, and collect your Confirmation of Permanent Residence Documents (COPR). Your COPR documents 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 of Canada when your application for Permanent Residence is approved, you will become landed when you enter Canada for the first time, either at a land port of entry or in a Canadian airport. If you are flying into Canada, ensure that you have at least 3 hours layover in the first Canadian airport you will enter, as you will go through the landing process at your first Canadian stop and you need plenty of time to complete the process before you can board any connecting flights.
If you are inside Canada at the time you are approved for Permanent Residence, and you have valid temporary status, you can either make an appointment for a permanent resident landing interview at the nearest office of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC); or you can leave Canada and re-enter either by flying back in or driving to a land border with the US.
To schedule a landing appointment for Confirmation of Permanent Residence, you can call the IRCC Call Center and make the request. Except in cases where a client’s temporary status is set to expire very soon, our office always recommends a landing appointment at an inland IRCC office as the most attractive landing option for clients who are already inside Canada. Ports of entry, particularly land crossings, are busy places staffed by often grumpy enforcement officers (CBSA) and their job is to catch people doing something wrong. It can be easy to find yourself in unexpected trouble at a land POE. Inland IRCC offices are staffed by immigration officers whose job is to administer the Immigration Act properly, and you will find far fewer unexpected issues develop during landing appointments at a local inland office.
You will need to provide a Canadian mailing address during your landing appointment so that IRCC can send your first PR card to you. IRCC will not send a PR card to an address outside of Canada.
Note added Oct 2020: New processes were 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, Refugees and Citizenship Canada started simply emailing a letter to applicants inside Canada whose applications for Permanent Residence had been approved.
Spend time inside Canada
Once you officially obtain Permanent Resident status in Canada, you will need to live inside Canada for 2 years out of every 5 year period of time. This 2 year period does not have to 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 maintain proof of the time that 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. Then keep the receipt as proof of when you entered the US and when you came back to Canada. In future, you will either need to apply for a new PR card or you will apply for Canadian Citizenship. In both cases, you are going to need to provide a list of all of your travel 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 set by 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 maintain your residency requirement.
If you were approved for Permanent Residence as a Provincial Nominee, you are required to live in the Province that nominated you as a Permanent Resident. Expect to get questions at the port of entry if your onward ticket does not end up depositing you in the Province of nomination.
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 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 (except for US citizens). With the introduction of the Electronic travel Authorization, or eTA, even visa exempt individuals are also required to have a valid PR card – 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 to do so, 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 attorney 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.