Canadian Immigration News

The Differences Between Permanent Residency and Citizenship in Canada

3.25 minute read
"Foreign nationals immigrating to Canada view permanent residence as a final goal in their immigration process. However, many confuse permanent residency with Canadian citizenship. When an individual has immigrated to Canada and attains permanent residence status, they are known as permanent residents. They are not citizens of Canada or temporary residents.Citizenship in Canada, on the other hand, is attained either by being born within the borders of the country or through a process known as Naturalization."
Written by My Visa Source Team
Published on:  Apr 30, 2021
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Foreign nationals immigrating to Canada view permanent residence as a final goal in their immigration process. However, many confuse permanent residency with Canadian citizenship

When an individual has immigrated to Canada and attains permanent residence status, they are known as permanent residents. They are not citizens of Canada or temporary residents.

Citizenship in Canada, on the other hand, is attained either by being born within the borders of the country or through a process known as Naturalization. 

There are several differences between being a permanent resident and a Canadian citizen. Citizenship is the next step after permanent residence.

Permanent residents can apply for Canadian citizenship if they meet certain residency requirements. However, to know if this is the best step for you, you need to know and understand the differences and benefits of both.

What are the Benefits of Being a Permanent Resident in Canada?

Permanent residency is the result of applying through an immigration stream such as a Provincial Nominee Program or Quebec Immigration

Permanent Residents are issued a permanent resident card (PR card) when they attain their status. This PR card is issued for a certain period. 

However, the expiration of your PR card does not mean that your status as a permanent resident expires. 

There are certain benefits and rights granted to the permanent residents of Canada:

  • Access to social benefits such as universal healthcare
  • Right to live, work and study anywhere in Canada
  • Protection under the Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
  • Right to apply for citizenship

Permanent residents must also comply with social responsibilities much like Canadian citizens. This includes filing taxes. 

Maintaining Permanent Residency in Canada

Permanent residents are required to carry their PR cards if they are traveling abroad. They must travel with a valid PR card and a passport from their home country. 

A valid PR card allows you to enter Canada without any restrictions. However, if your PR card expires while you are abroad, you can apply for a Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTD). An immigration official will assess your residency status before issuing a PRTD.

Residency Obligations require permanent residents of Canada to be physically present for at least 730 days out of 5 years in the country. 

If you fail to meet your residency obligation, you could lose your permanent resident status. 

You can appeal the decision to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). You are a permanent resident until a decision on your appeal is made. 

You can only lose your permanent residence status if:

  • It is determined by an adjudicator that you failed to meet the residency obligation after you applied for a PRTD
  • You voluntarily renounce your status
  • You transition to Canadian citizenship

How to Transition from PR to Canadian Citizenship?

Permanent residents can transition to Canadian citizenship through the naturalization process. Naturalized citizens are permanent residents who succeed in meeting the residency obligations and other criteria.

There are other ways people gain citizenship in Canada. If you were born abroad after April 17, 2009, to a Canadian citizen, you can receive Canadian citizenship according to the Canadian Citizenship Act.

Children of naturalized citizens will also be granted citizenship even if they are born abroad. Adopted children of Canadian citizens automatically receive Canadian citizenship.

What are the Differences in Benefits of Becoming a Canadian Citizen or a Permanent Resident?

There is not much difference in the benefits of becoming a permanent resident or a Canadian citizen. However, Canadian citizens have certain added benefits and responsibilities:

  • Vote in local and federal elections
  • Run for political office 
  • Hold governmental positions with high-level security clearances
  • No residency obligations
  • Canadian passport
  • Dual citizenship

Based on your interests, you can either retain your permanent residence or pursue Canadian citizenship. 

You will be required to meet all the requirements to enjoy the benefits of Canadian citizenship. 

You can only lose Canadian citizenship if you renounce it. However, taking the next step after gaining permanent residence is a big decision. 

Being a permanent resident does not mean you are obligated to become a Canadian citizen. So, consider your options and make the decision that is best for you.

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