Find out how questions about your status may come up

Do permanent residents lose their status if they spend time outside Canada?
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Find out how questions about your status may come up

You may need to prove to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that you're a permanent resident.

This can happen if you:

  • make an application to IRCC when you're in Canada
  • make an application to IRCC when you're not in Canada
  • return after leaving the country and apply to CBSA to enter Canada

You may need to prove that you've met your residency obligation.

Making an application from inside Canada  

If you make an application to IRCC, they can look at your travel history to see how much time you've spent outside Canada.

For example, IRCC looks at how much time you've spent in Canada when you:

IRCC does this to see if you've met your residency obligation. If this might be a problem for you, get legal advice before you apply.

You may be able to delay applying until you can show that in the 5 years before the date of your application you met your residency obligation.

Making an application outside Canada

If you leave Canada, you need to show proof of your permanent resident status when you come back. Usually, you do this by showing your permanent resident card.

If you're outside Canada and don't have a permanent resident card or your card expires, you can't get one while you're outside Canada. Instead, you can apply for and use a Permanent Resident Travel Document.

You have to apply to a Canadian visa office or Visa Application Centre for a Permanent Resident Travel Document. They check to see if you've met your residency obligation before they decide if they'll give you the document.

Applying to enter Canada

When you return to Canada, an officer from CBSA looks at your documents and can ask you questions. You must:

  • answer the questions, and
  • tell the truth.

The CBSA officer can decide to look at how much time you've spent outside Canada and whether you've met your residency obligation.

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Reviewed: March 12, 2019

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