July 11, 2017
Maintaining My Permanent Resident Status – Can I Come Back Later?
The procedure of applying for permanent residence and then waiting for your file to be processed can be long and frustrating – sometimes it takes several years. Immigration and Refugees Citizenship Canada(IRCC) is working diligently to improve processing times but it remains a work in progress.
Once a person becomes a permanent resident after landing in Canada, there are a number of obligations that everybody must observe in order to maintain this precious and hard sought status. We receive many questions regarding this topic as many newcomers are reluctant to give up good jobs overseas, but at the same time, do not want to lose their permanent resident status. Here is a common question:
Q: I came to Canada together with my wife and two children two years ago. I tried hard to find a job in my profession, but nothing was satisfactory and I had to go back to my birth country to continue my work with the company I worked with, before coming to Canada to support my family. How can I maintain my permanent resident status, as in the end, we want to be able to settle in Canada?
A: Your dilemma is not uncommon amongst new immigrants to Canada, especially when one enjoyed a rewarding position overseas and once in Canada, discovers he or she may face significant challenges in securing similar employment. Or, that you must pass a series of exams/tests so that you finally can be admitted in a professional organization recognizing your education and credentials. This can take several months or even longer. In the interim finding work is a significant challenge. In the past several years the outcomes for new immigrants is improving as IRCC has improved in securing immigrants that have a better path to employment upon arrival or many are already in Canada working before becoming permanent residents. The focus has been broadened not just on entry but resettlement as well. Nevertheless, it is not an easy process and for some returning to the comfort of a position back home seems like the only viable path forward. But this may not be without its consequences.
A permanent resident, as per the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), must comply with a residency obligation with respect to every five-year period. In short, the permanent resident must satisfy IRCC that within a five-year period, they are:
- physically present in Canada for at least 730 days,
- outside Canada accompanying a Canadian citizen (parent, spouse);
- outside Canada and employed full-time by a Canadian business or Canadian public service;
- outside Canada accompanying a permanent resident (parent, spouse) employed by a Canadian business or Canadian public service;
Failing which a permanent resident may lose his or her permanent resident status. Many people find themselves in this situation every year. So, any planned return to your originating country must be done with a view to these legal requirements. Otherwise a removal order may be issued against you, or you may not be able to renew your permanent resident card or be issued a travel document abroad. This is not a situation you and your family want to find themselves in and good planning can avoid very complicated consequences. So, the best answer to your question is if there is no other way, plan your return for short time but ensure you maintain the 730 days (2 years) in the 1825-day (5 years) period allowing for a maximum 1095-day period outside of Canada. Good luck!