It can be challenging to meet Canadian immigration requirements and there’s a lot to consider. While some permanent residents need to spend time abroad for several reasons including employment, family, and personal reasons, you will be happy to learn that there are ways to maintain permanent residency in Canada even if you frequently spend long stretches of time abroad.


Understanding Your Rights As a Permanent Resident in Canada

As a permanent resident of Canada, you have the right to enter and remain in Canada. But that’s not all, you also have additional rights. Below are the few of your rights as a Canadian Permanent Resident:

  • Live, work or study in Canada
  • Have access to social benefits that Canadian citizens receive
  • The opportunity to apply for Canadian citizenship
  • Protection under Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms


Permanent Residency Obligations To Keep Your Status

You’re likely aware that in order to maintain permanent residence status, you must spend 2 out of every 5 years or 730 days in Canada.

The 730 days do not need to be spent in Canada continuously or in a row. For instance you could spend 4 months inside the country one year,  spend 7 months another year, and so on and so forth. As long as the amount over 5 years equals 730 days.

An immigration officer determines if the time counts when you re-enter the country.


Exceptions to the 2 Out of 5 Year Rule

If you didn’t know, there are other ways to contribute to the 2 out of every 5 year rule without being physically present.

Consider the following actions outlined by Section 28(2)(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act:

Residency obligation

 28 (1) A permanent resident must comply with a residency obligation with respect to every five-year period.


(2) The following provisions govern the residency obligation under subsection (1):

(a) a permanent resident complies with the residency obligation with respect to a five-year period if, on each of a total of at least 730 days in that five-year period, they are

(i) physically present in Canada,

(ii) outside Canada accompanying a Canadian citizen who is their spouse or common-law partner or, in the case of a child, their parent,

(iii) outside Canada employed on a full-time basis by a Canadian business or in the federal public administration or the public service of a province,

(iv) outside Canada accompanying a permanent resident who is their spouse or common-law partner or, in the case of a child, their parent and who is employed on a full-time basis by a Canadian business or in the federal public administration or the public service of a province, or

(v) referred to in regulations providing for other means of compliance;


So, what does this mean?

We get it, some of the legal-speak can be tricky to comprehend. We’re here to help break it down into more accessible language. Here is an overview of the exceptions to the 2 out of 5 rule, by which you can remain a permanent resident in Canada:

  • Accompanying a Close Family Member Outside of Canada

If you are accompanying a close family member who is a Canadian citizen, then the time spent outside of Canada counts towards your 730 days.

  • Accompany Another Permanent Resident Outside of Canada

A permanent resident can accompany a spouse or partner who is also a permanent resident outside of Canada. The spouse or partner must be employed full-time by a Canadian business, public service of Canada, or a provincial Government.

The permanent resident doesn’t need to be working abroad, but could be on holidays or have another reason to visit, as long as they are employed full time at a Canadian business.

  • Employment Outside of Canada

If you are a permanent resident of Canada, but maintain employment abroad, in all of these cases your time spent outside Canada will contribute to the 730 day requirement:

  • You are a full-time employee of a Canadian business or the public service with the head office in Canada that controls international work assignments.
  • You are a contractor working overseas for a Canadian business.
  • Includes assignments to a client of a Canadian business located internationally or an affiliated enterprise


Permanent Residency Status is Your Responsibility

As a permanent resident, it is your responsibility to keep track of the time spent in and out of Canada and have present evidence on-hand. You must prove you meet the permanent residency requirements, otherwise you may be at risk of losing your residency status.

The types of evidence you should keep include:

  • Maintain records of trips outside of Canada
  • Keep a travel journal with details of your trip and the reason for your absence.
  • Keep a copy of plane tickets and hotel reservations. The stamps on your passport should also have a date to show as evidence.
  • Other types of evidence to showcase expenses in Canada: lease agreements, medical records, memberships, car insurance, school transcripts, pay stubs


Doss Law Can Help you Retain Your Permanent Residency Status

If you have any questions or concerns about maintaining your permanent residency in Canada, please get in touch with our knowledgeable immigration lawyers, serving the Durham Region and Greater Toronto Area. We can help you maintain your residency or put forth a strong application to renew your permanent residency status.