Residency Obligations for Permanent Residents

Next month I will be speaking at the Canadian Bar Association’s National Immigration Law Section Annual Conference. Being asked to speak is an honour, however it comes with the requirement to submit a paper.  Finding time to research and write was an issue – much of the paper was written between basketball games in the hallway of a high school in Markham, Ontario, where my son was playing in a weekend tournament.

The topic, however, is one that I often get inquiries about. All sorts of things happen in life, and permanent residents who thought they were settling in Canada permanently sometimes find that they have not met the required residency obligation, due to travel or relocation outside of the country.  Where there are sufficient humanitarian and compassionate reasons for their absences, the breach of the residency obligation may be overcome.  However, for those who have simply chosen to take up more lucrative employment opportunities outside of Canada, loss of permanent residency is the likely outcome.  

There are exceptions to the physical presence obligation. For example, those residing outside of Canada with a Canadian spouse, and those working for certain Canadian businesses may maintain their permanent resident statuses. 

It is important to note that re-entering Canada without a valid permanent residence card can be very problematic, especially now that most visa-exempt nationals must have electronic travel authorizations (“eTA’s”) in advance.  Since permanent residents cannot apply for an eTA, without a valid permanent resident card, they will find themselves unable to board a plane flying to Canada.  Note US citizens do not need an eTA to fly to Canada. 

You can read my conference paper here.