A permanent resident has been issued a permanent resident visa by the Canadian government and resides in Canada, but is not a Canadian citizen. A permanent resident is a citizen of another country. A person in Canada temporarily (a student, worker or visitor) is not a permanent resident.
As a permanent resident, a person has the right to:
- Most social benefits available to Canadian citizens, like health care coverage, and the right to live/work/study anywhere in Canada,
- Apply for Canadian citizenship (after living in Canada as a permanent resident for a specific amount of time), and
- Protection under Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Further, permanent residents are responsible for respecting all Canadian laws at all levels (federal, provincial, municipal levels).
Permanent residency does not need to be renewed: it remains indefinitely unless the holder applies for and is granted Canadian citizenship or loses the status of permanent resident status. One can lose permanent resident status by failing to meet the residency obligation, which requires a permanent resident to accumulate 730 residency days in a five-year period. To accumulate residency days while outside Canada, a permanent resident must be:
- Accompanying a Canadian citizen who is their spouse or common-law partner, or their parent (in the case of a child),
- Employed full-time by a Canadian business or the Canadian government (at any level – federal, provincial, municipal), or
- Accompanying a permanent resident that is their spouse or common-law partner or their parent who is employed full-time by a Canadian business or the Canadian government.
Acquiring a permanent resident card is not necessary for one to uphold their permanent resident status, however it is required in the absence of a travel document to board a common carrier to Canada (if the individual travelling is not a Canadian citizen).
One can obtain permanent residency through a variety of portals:
- Family sponsorship programs
- Canadian Experience Class (for individuals with work/study experience in Canada)
- Federal Skilled Worker Program (note: this program is currently under reconstruction)
- Federal Skilled Trades Program
- Provincial Nominee programs
- Business and Investor programs
- Quebec Experience programs
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