Travelling to Canada as a permanent resident

Published on: Jul 26, 2022 | Tags: Permanent Resident, Canada eTA Application Form

For many people, travel to Canada means getting either a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), which demonstrates that you are exempt from the visa requirement. The main exceptions to these rules are Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Permanent residents can prove their status by showing a valid permanent resident card (PR card) when entering the country. However, not having a PR card doesn't mean that you are no longer a permanent resident. If you're a Canadian permanent resident, but you don't have a PR card, you have two main options for travelling to Canada.

Satisfying the residency requirement

If you no longer have your PR card, one way to make sure you can enter Canada without a visa is to get a Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTD). A PRTD allows you to enter Canada without a visa, just like a PR card. However, it only applies to a single entry. Once you're back in the country, you can apply for a new PR card, which you can then use any time you enter Canada.

In order to qualify for a PRTD, you must satisfy a residency obligation. In order to retain your permanent resident status, you need to have spent a total of 730 days in Canada over the last five years. These 730 days don't need to be a single continuous stay; they can be broken up over multiple visits. In addition, time spent outside Canada can sometimes contribute to the total. For instance, if you work for a Canadian business and your work requires you to spend time outside Canada, it may count toward your residency obligation. The same is true if you work for the federal government or for a provincial or territorial government. You may also be able to count time outside the country if you travelled with a spouse, partner or parent who is either a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident working for a Canadian business or government.

You can apply for a PRTD at any Canadian Visa Application Centre. The filing fee for this document is $50. Processing times can vary, so don't plan your trip until your application is complete. If your application is rejected (for instance, if you have not satisfied the residency obligation), you will have 60 days to appeal the decision. If you do not appeal, you will lose your permanent residency status at the end of the period.

What if I don't meet the residency requirements?

If you haven't satisfied the residency obligation, you won't be able to enter Canada as a permanent resident. However, you may still be able to enter Canada using a visa or eTA, in the same way as any other traveller from your country.

In order to do this, you'll need to renounce your permanent resident status. This is a voluntary procedure in which you declare that you don't want to remain a permanent resident of Canada. You don't need to visit a Visa Application Centre; you can download the forms and submit them by mail. Once you've confirmed that you are no longer a permanent resident, you can go about applying for an eTA or visa just like anyone else who wishes to travel to Canada.

Renouncing your permanent residency status is a big step, but it's the best choice if you don't satisfy the residency requirement or no longer wish to live in Canada long-term. You can't travel to Canada without either applying for a PRTD or giving up your permanent resident status, and the renunciation process is simpler, faster and cheaper than applying for a PRTD, receiving a rejection and waiting for the appeal period to expire.

Whether you're a permanent resident who no longer has a PR card or one who's decided to settle permanently somewhere else, there are methods available for you to travel to Canada. To ensure worry-free future travel, you just have to choose the path that's right for you.