Over the years, people from around the world have applied for the Canada Permanent Resident Visa. This high level of international interest in permanent residency in Canada is because, from the picturesque scenery of Banff, a world-leading education system, and amazing investment and business opportunities in thriving hubs like Toronto, Canada provides an excellent lifestyle for its permanent residents.
Meanwhile, the Government of Canada has earned a reputation for being welcoming to new immigrants of all nationalities. Additionally, becoming a permanent resident can be the first step in obtaining Canadian citizenship.
If you’re wondering how to get permanent residency in Canada, this article will provide the answers that you need. We will take you through the entire Canadian immigration process and explain how you can immigrate to Canada and become a permanent resident. The contents include:
- Eligibility requirements
- Family sponsorship
- Canadian immigration law
- Advantages of becoming new permanent residents in Canada
About the Canada Permanent Resident Visa
The Canada Permanent Resident Visa allows individuals to reside in Canada permanently, only needing to report to Canadian immigration once every five years. This program is comparable to a Green Card in the United States. As soon as your application is approved, you are given a Permanent Resident card (PR card), permitting you to relocate to any Canadian province with your family members.
Canadian permanent residency also comes with the same rights as Canadian citizenship, except those who become Canadian citizens receive the right to vote and hold public office. Upon approval for the visa from Canadian immigration authorities, you can choose to immigrate to Canada. Please note that individuals living in Canada as students or foreign skilled workers are not considered permanent residents by the Canadian government.
The Benefits of a Canada Permanent Resident Visa
Canadian permanent residents enjoy the following rights and freedoms:
Reside and work in Canada
One of the friendliest and safest countries in the world, Canada offers its permanent residents an exceptional quality of life. As a PR card holder, you can move freely across provinces in the country. Once you become a permanent resident in Canada, you also have access to many investment and work opportunities in the Canadian economy.
Inclusion of family members
By acquiring Canadian PR, your family members, including a common-law partner and dependent children, can reap all the benefits. They can reside, study, and work in the country indefinitely.
Education and healthcare infrastructure
One of the main reasons that so many people want to become permanent residents is access to the social services provided by the Government of Canada. If you are granted permanent resident status in Canada, your children will be eligible for free education until class 12 (16-17 years old), consisting of primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of education. Canada’s education system is ranked as the fourth best in the world. Additionally, permanent residents pay lower tuition fees than foreign nationals living in Canada temporarily.
On top of that, permanent resident card holders and every sponsored family member have the right to free medical care (under the universal healthcare program) and, in some cases, free drug prescriptions. The federal Government of Canada funds public health care coverage through taxes, so all permanent residents and Canadian citizens receive access to free medical services.
The Canada permanent residence card provides a smooth Canadian immigration journey with a validity period of five years. By maintaining a clean criminal history and good behavior, your card renewal will be approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Please note that there are no restrictions on the number of visa renewals an individual can have.
A person is eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship by living in Canada for three years out of the last five years after obtaining permanent resident status. To be granted Canadian citizenship, the applicant must also pass a citizenship test based on general knowledge of Canada and prove their language skills in English or French.
For more details on Canadian citizenship and the path to acquiring it through investment, read our article: A Guide to Canada Citizenship by Investment. You’ll also find information on how the Canadian passport, which you would receive once granted Canadian citizenship, has placed eighth on the Global Passport Index.
If you are a permanent resident in Canada, you have permission to start your own business as a single proprietor, partner, or corporation. You are not required to be a Canadian citizen to incorporate a new business. PR removes business ownership restrictions that must be adhered to in Canadian immigration programs like the Start-Up Visa.
Permanent Residence in Canada
Once you obtain the Canadian permanent resident visa, you are given a permanent resident card that you should carry along with your passport, especially when traveling abroad. The card is seen as proof of your PR status upon re-entry.
Rights for permanent residents
Standard work rights and reasonable concessions on taxes are guaranteed for all permanent residents in Canada, including those who obtained their status through family sponsorship. Permanent residents also have the right to monetary assistance after retirement and disability and survivors’ benefit schemes. Furthermore, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects all permanent residents from discrimination.
Limitations for permanent residents
As a permanent resident of Canada, you are not allowed to vote in the federal elections held in the country or run for political office. Besides this limitation, permanent residents are permitted to undertake any valid job offer, including those that necessitate high-level security clearance.
The residency time period in Canada
The residency obligation includes maintaining a presence in Canada for a minimum of 730 days over five years to maintain your permanent resident status. However, you’re not required to continuously stay in Canada for 730 days. There are two ways to monitor your stay period in the country:
- You can ask the Canadian border officer when you arrive in Canada.
- You can record the days from the date of renewing your Canada permanent residence card.
Canada Start-Up Visa program
If you are an international entrepreneur looking for business immigration programs in Canada, the Start-Up Visa program might be a perfect choice. This program gives entrepreneurs a PR visa and access to investment in the country’s private sector. Under this scheme, you get the opportunity to connect and network with angel investors, venture capitalists, and other business enthusiasts. This program makes it easier for immigrants to create and expand successful start-ups.
To be eligible for the Canadian Start-Up Visa program, the Canadian government requires applicants to prove their business ideas are innovative, creative, and ready to compete globally. Additionally, entrepreneurs must ensure their start-up creates job opportunities for Canadian residents.
Start-Up Visa Program – eligibility
You must meet the following eligibility criteria to be considered for the Canada Start-Up Visa program:
- You must show you are an owner of a qualifying business or that your idea is innovative.
- You must receive a Letter of Support from a designated organization willing to endorse and fund your business idea.
- You must fulfill the language requirements (if applicable).
- You must prove you have sufficient funds to support yourself and any family members while living in Canada before your business earns profits.
Canada Permanent Resident Visa – Other Options
You can gain Canadian permanent resident status through multiple programs. The best option for you will depend on your skills, experience, and location.
Canada Express Entry program
Under the Canada Express Entry program, foreign skilled workers can apply for residence in Canada. Express Entry is used to oversee PR applications for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canadian Experience Class program. Successful Express Entry program applicants can obtain permanent resident status in six months or less. The scheme consists of the following categories:
Federal Skilled Workers Program (FSWP): For qualified and experienced professionals
Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP): For qualified professionals with technical expertise and international work experience
Canadian Experience Class (CEC): For professionals who have already worked in Canada
Most candidates in Canada’s Express Entry system have their applications processed within six to twelve months. If an Express Entry profile isn’t processed within twelve months, it can be resubmitted to the Express Entry pool.
Some candidates may be able to immigrate to Canada if they receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) inviting them to submit an application for permanent residence with their Express Entry application.
As part of the family class program, Canadian citizens and people with permanent resident status in Canada can request permission for family members to visit or permanently immigrate to Canada. As a PR card holder in Canada, you can sponsor the following relatives:
- Common-law partner
- Dependent children
*You can only sponsor your brother/sister, nephew/niece, grandson/granddaughter if they:
- Have lost their parents and are dependent on you
- Are minors (below 18 years of age) and are not married
- Are a relative by a common law
Provincial Nominee Program
Under a provincial program, skilled workers and international investors can reside in specific provinces within Canadian territory. These special programs expand Canadian immigration options by encouraging development and migration to underpopulated and less developed regions in Canada, as well as those with an aging population.
Business Immigration Program
Through the Business Immigration Program, entrepreneurs and investors with valid experience and business ideas can apply for permanent resident status in Canada.
Atlantic Immigration Program
Under the Atlantic Immigration Program – formally called Atlantic Immigration Pilot, a highly-skilled foreign worker or international student who has graduated from a Canadian education institution can apply for permanent residence in Canada. This Canadian visa program aims to enable skilled foreign workers and graduates to occupy positions in provinces that locals cannot fill.
Do note that this program is only applicable in four provinces in Canada – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
You must first apply for permanent residence through the province or territory you were nominated by for the program. After a province or territory endorses you for permanent residency, you can apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for a permanent resident permit. An IRCC officer will assess your application and make a decision based on Canadian law on immigration.
Canada permanent residence by investment
The Québec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP) was the only Canadian immigration program that allowed foreigners to make a capital transfer and receive permanent residence status without any work-related commitments. The program required applicants to have managerial experience, a high net worth (the minimum net worth to qualify was CAD 2 million, which is about $1.47 million), and invest at least CAD 1.2 million (about $880,000) through IQ Immigrants Investisseurs Inc.
Provided the investment is maintained for five years. Applicants can renew their permanent resident permits indefinitely.
Please note that the Québec Immigrant Investor Program has been suspended.
Live-In Caregiver Program: The Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP) is another program that has granted permanent residency in Canada to successful applicants, but it is no longer accepting new applicants.
To be eligible for permanent residence through the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP), you must have a minimum of two years of work experience within the program. You can apply if you are currently employed in Canada under an LCP work permit or if you received approval for your initial LCP work permit, which was based on a Labour Market Impact Assessment submitted to Employment and Social Development Canada on or before November 30, 2014.
Canadian Permanent Resident Visa – Application Process
There are many immigration pathways to obtain a permanent resident visa. One of the easiest is entering the country as a temporary resident through a study permit or work permit scheme. With this, you receive temporary immigrant status. Only some immigrants apply for permanent resident status before becoming temporary residents.
Over the years, Express Entry has been the popular option among immigrants to obtain permanent resident cards in Canada.
Here are the visa requirements to apply for the Express Entry program and gain permanent residence:
- Share your Express Entry profile. You will need to self-assess yourself.
- Your profile will be graded based on Canada’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Your profile will be assigned points with the help of a Canada Permanent Resident Visa points calculator.
- Top-scoring profiles will be allowed to submit their application through Express Entry draws that happen every two weeks.
- Qualified applicants who have received an Invitation to Apply (ITA) must submit their application for a permanent resident visa within 60 days.
Business Immigration Program
This program is relatively easy to navigate and only involves a two-step process. You just need to have a work permit. Once you meet all the work permit terms and conditions, you can apply for a permanent resident Visa.
Provincial Nominee Program
You must meet the following requirements to apply under the Provincial Nominee Program:
- Fulfill all nominee non-express stream requirements cited by the province or territory
- Be nominated under that stream
Atlantic Immigration Program
You must meet the following requirements to apply under the program:
- Proof of qualifying work experience
- Proof of qualifying education
- Fulfill language requirements
- Proof of financial stability that ensures that you can support yourself and each family member when you relocate to Canada
One crucial detail to note when planning to immigrate to Canada permanently is that IRCC has very specific passport photo requirements for permanent residence applications:
- A commercial photographer must take the photo
- The photo must be 50 mm x 70 mm in size
- The photo must be clear, sharp, and in focus
- The photo must be taken with a neutral facial expression
- The photo must be taken with uniform lighting and not display shadows, glare, or flash reflections
- The photo must be taken straight on, with face and shoulders centered and squared to the camera
- The photo must be taken in front of a white background with a clear difference between the applicant’s face and the background.
- The photo must reflect and represent natural skin tones and be unaltered
Visa-Free Travel for Permanent Resident Permit Holders
Not only do Canadian citizens with Canadian passports have access to visa-free travel, but those with permanent residence status can also access over 30 countries visa-free.
Here is a list of the visa-free countries for those with PR status:
- All Dutch Caribbean territories (90 days)
- Anguilla (90 days)
- Bahamas (90 days)
- Belize (30 days)
- Bermuda (180 days)
- British Virgin Islands (180 days)
- Cayman Islands (60 days)
- Costa Rica (30 days)
- Cuba (30 days)
- Dominican Republic (60 days)
- El Salvador (not applicable to all nationalities)
- Georgia (90 days in any 180-day period)
- Guatemala (not applicable to all nationalities)
- Honduras (not applicable to all nationalities)
- Jamaica (180 days)
- Kosovo (15 days)
- Mexico (180 days)
- Nicaragua (90 days in any 180-day period)
- Panama (30 days or 180 days)
- Peru [180 days (Chinese and Indian nationals only)]
- Qatar (30 days)
- Saint Pierre and Miquelon (90 days in any 180-day period)
- Singapore [96 hours visa-free transit to or from a third country (Chinese and Indian nationals only)]
- Saint Maarten (90 days)
- South Korea [(30 days when in transit (not applicable to all nationalities)]
- Taiwan [30 days, online registration required (only applicable to certain nationalities)]
- Turks and Caicos Islands (90 days)
Canada Permanent Resident Visa – eligibility
If you are thinking of immigrating to Canada, you must fulfill the following requirements to meet the eligibility criteria for a Canadian permanent residence card:
- You need to be physically present in Canada
- You must comply with the permanent residency obligations set by the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) — formerly known as Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). (see Appendix A: Residency obligation)
- You should not be a Canadian citizen
- You should have no criminal record
Frequently Asked Questions about the Canada Permanent Resident Visa
How do you get permanent residency in Canada?
There are several immigration programs available to gain a Canada Permanent Resident Visa and immigrate to Canada permanently. The Start-Up Visa, Express Entry, Provincial Nominee Program, and Quebec Immigration Investment Program all provide a path to permanent residence. If you receive a Canadian job offer and live in Canada as a foreign worker for three years, you can also apply for permanent residence.
Is it easy to get Canadian PR status?
If you meet all the eligibility requirements for one of the various Canadian immigration programs and have proper documentation, getting Canadian PR status and receiving your permanent resident card in Canada is straightforward.
How long does it take to get a Permanent Resident Visa in Canada?
Once you submit all your documentation, your Permanent Resident Visa should take approximately six months to be approved. The processing time can depend on various factors, including your home country. For more information about processing times, it’s advisable to check the IRCC website.
How much money do you need to immigrate to Canada?
If you are a single applicant, you will need around CAD 15,420 (about $11,360) to immigrate to Canada. You will also be required to show proof of funds and proof that you pay taxes. If your application includes a common-law partner, you will need about CAD 20,000 (about $14,700).
Can I move to Canada without a job?
You can move to Canada without a job if you are applying through the Express Entry system, a Start-Up Visa, or other business-related options relevant to Provincial Nominee Programs. The Quebec Immigration Investment Program (QIIP) has no work or director-related requirements.
Can I travel outside Canada during my permanent residence application?
You can travel outside the country while your application is being processed. But note that your application can be refused if you leave Canada frequently or for long periods of time.
Can I travel to the USA with a Canadian permanent residence card?
A Canadian permanent residence card is not a valid travel document to enter the United States. Whether you require a visa or visa waiver to enter the US depends on which passport you hold. You must always travel abroad with your passport.
Can Canadian permanent residents travel abroad?
There are no travel restrictions for Canadian permanent residents. The only requirement is a residency obligation of at least 730 days in Canadian territory within five years of the visa permit’s validity.
It’s important to note that individuals leaving Canada without a valid PR card or failing to carry one must obtain a permanent resident travel document before reentering Canada using a commercial vehicle.
Do you need a Canadian visa if you are a permanent resident?
A Canadian permanent residence permit removes all requirements for holders to obtain a visitor visa to visit Canada or a residency visa to live there. The only requirement new permanent residents should be aware of is to renew their permanent resident card every five years.
Should I seek advice from a Canada PR visa consultant?
Consulting a Canadian immigration consultant is advisable because they can provide expert guidance, help navigate complex immigration processes, and keep applicants updated on policy changes. They increase the chances of a successful application by ensuring it meets all requirements and is submitted correctly.
How do I become a Canadian citizen?
Once you have a permanent resident card, you can become a Canadian citizen by meeting residency requirements, demonstrating knowledge of Canada, and passing a citizenship test. Ensure you fulfill the criteria, maintain the required physical presence, and submit a complete application, including your permanent resident card, to initiate the citizenship process.
How many visa free countries for Canadian PR status holders are there?
There are around 30 countries that offer visa free travel to those with PR in Canada.
How long does Canadian PR last?
Unlike temporary status in Canada, PR does not expire.