Canada Immigration FAQ

To maintain your status as a permanent resident, you must live in Canada for at least two years within a five-year period. During this time, you must be here physically.The two years may not need to be continuous. An officer can confirm if your time in Canada counts when you:

  • Re-enter Canada, or
  • Apply for a permanent resident card.

Time spent outside Canada may also count towards the two years if you are:

  • Travelling with your spouse or partner who is a Canadian citizen,
  • A dependent child travelling with his or her father or mother who is a Canadian citizen,
  • An employee of (or under contract to) a Canadian business.

It may also count if you are:

  • Travelling with your spouse or partner who is a permanent resident and works full-time for:
  • A Canadian business, or
  • The public service of Canada or a province,
  • A child travelling with his or her father or mother who is a permanent resident and who works full-time for:
  • A Canadian business, or
  • The public service of Canada or a province.
  • An employee of (or under contract to) the public service of Canada or a province and you are on a full-time assignment to:
  • A position outside Canada,
  • A partner business outside Canada, or
  • A client of the Canadian business or the public service outside Canada.

The travel journal is an easy way to record your time outside Canada. It can help you fill out the permanent resident application form.

Permanent residents (PR) of Canada must carry and present their valid PR card or permanent resident travel document (PRTD) when boarding a flight to Canada or travelling to Canada on any other commercial carrier. If you do not carry your PR card or PRTD, you may not be able to board your flight, train, bus or boat to Canada.

It is your responsibility to ensure that your PR card is still valid when you return from travel outside Canada, and to apply for a new PR card when your current card expires.

When IRCC approves an immigrant for permanent residence in Canada, IRCC will give them a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) document. An immigration officer at the port of entry or an IRCC office signs and dates this document when permanent residence is finally granted. Permanent residents use this document to show to provincial and territorial organizations to access services. There is an immigration category printed on this document.

Once you are granted citizenship, you are no longer a permanent resident (PR) and your PR card will no longer be valid. IRCC will collect your PR card at the citizenship ceremony.

A permanent resident is someone who has been given permanent resident status by immigrating to Canada but is not a Canadian citizen. Permanent residents are citizens of other countries.

A person in Canada temporarily, like a student or foreign worker, is not a permanent resident.

Refugees who are resettled from overseas become permanent residents through the Government-Assisted Refugee Program or the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.

Someone who makes a refugee claim in Canada does not become a permanent resident at that time. To become one, the Immigration and Refugee Board must first approve their claim. Then, they must apply for and get permanent resident status.

As a permanent resident, you have the right to:

  • Get most social benefits that Canadian citizens receive, including health care coverage,
  • Live, work or study anywhere in Canada,
  • Apply for Canadian citizenship,
  • Protection under Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

You must pay taxes and respect all Canadian laws at the federal, provincial and municipal levels.

You are not allowed to:

  • Vote or run for political office,
  • Hold some jobs that need a high-level security clearance.

You don’t lose your permanent resident status when your PR card expires. You can only lose your status if you go through an official process. You can lose your permanent resident status if:

  • An adjudicator determines you are no longer a permanent resident after an inquiry or PRTD appeal.
  • You voluntarily renounce your permanent resident status.
  • A removal order is made against you and comes into force. or
  • You become a Canadian citizen.
  • Even if you don't meet the residency obligation, you are still a PR until an official decision is made on your status.

Express Entry FAQ

Not necessarily. But, to get points for your education under the Comprehensive Ranking System, you must either:

  • Have been educated in Canada, or
  • Have a valid Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) for your completed foreign education.
  • You may also need an ECA to meet the requirements of one of the programs included in Express Entry. For example, the Federal Skilled Worker Program requires you to have an ECA.

To get the most points possible for your education under the Comprehensive Ranking System, you should get your highest degree, diploma or certificate assessed (PhD, MA, BA). If you have more than one credential, you may want to get both assessed if it would give you more points.

Canada assesses everyone using the same standards, no matter their language of origin, nationality or ethnicity. Every candidate must take a standard test by an objective third party. This is to make sure your language skills are assessed in a fair and unbiased way. Even someone from an English-speaking country, who speaks English as a first language, needs to take a test. Likewise, someone from a French-speaking country, who speaks French as a first language, needs to take a test. You need to submit third-party language results for all programs under Express Entry. You will have to include the results of your test(s) in your Express Entry profile. Language tests have been required for our skilled immigration programs for many years.

IRCC only accept these tests for Express Entry:

For English

  • CELPIP: Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program – CELPIP-General 2014
  • (If you took the test before April 1, 2014, you would have had to take the “CELPIP-General (CELPIP-G)” test.)
  • IELTS: International English Language Testing System – General Training.

For French

  • TEF : Test d’évaluation de français

To qualify for the broadest range of programs, including the Federal Skilled Worker Program, you should include work experience for the last 10 years. IRCC also need this information for an application for permanent residence, no matter which program you are applying under.

Yes. Depending on the information in your profile, you may be eligible for more than one program through Express Entry.

In that case, you will be invited to apply for one program based on this order:

  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC),
  • Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), then
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).

For example:

  • If you met the criteria for all three programs, the system would send you an invitation to apply for the CEC.
  • If you met the criteria for CEC and FSWP, you would also get an invitation to apply under the CEC.
  • If you met the criteria for FSWP and FSTP, you would get an invitation to apply under FSWP.

You can’t choose which program you are invited to apply for. The system will sort profiles based on the information you enter.

If you decline the invitation, the system will not re-invite you under the next program. You will go back in the pool, and if IRCC invite you again, the same order will apply.

Generally, a valid offer is for a job that is:

  • Full-time and non-seasonal,
  • For at least one year,
  • In a skilled job listed as Skill Type 0, or Skill Level A or B in the 2016 National Occupational Classification.

A job offer must be in writing, and must set out details of the job they are offering you, such as:

  • Your pay and deductions
  • Your job duties
  • Conditions of employment, like your hours of work.

In most cases, a valid job offer must be supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The employer has to apply for one from Employment and Social Development Canada/Service Canada.

If they get a positive LMIA, they must give you a copy and a written job offer.In some cases, your employer does not need an LMIA to support your job offer. Find out more about jobs that are exempt.

Under Express Entry, a valid job offer will give you additional points in the Comprehensive Ranking System.

A work permit on its own is not a job offer, even if it is an open work permit.

When you create your Express Entry profile, include the LMIA number to show that you have a valid job offer.

If you get invited to apply, IRCC may ask you for the original document, so keep it in a safe place.

A job offer is not valid if your employer is:

  • An embassy, high commission or consulate in Canada, or
  • On the list of ineligible employers.

If your employer is not eligible, does not get a positive LMIA, or is not LMIA-exempt you will not meet the requirements of a valid job offer for arranged employment.