Under Canada’s immigration law, permanent residents must be physically present for 730 days (2 years) every 5 years. You can appeal if an officer decides you have not met your residency obligation. You can prove to IRCC that you meet the residency obligation by submitting supporting documents.
Proof of your relationship to a Canadian citizen
No single document will prove a common-law partnership, so you need to bring together a collection of documents. These could include text messages, trades of gifts, phone history, letters, pictures, emails, and even a sworn declaration from family or friends. The more evidence you provide, the stronger your case.
In a spousal or conjugal sponsorship application, the department will want to see proof of your relationship with the person you’re sponsoring. This can include letters, traded gifts, wedding pictures, and even a marriage certificate. For same-sex couples, this is especially important since these types of applications are more challenging to approve.
If you’re applying to keep your permanent resident status on humanitarian and compassionate grounds because you were unable to meet your residency obligation, you need to submit documentation that supports your case. This can include documents that show exceptional circumstances that prevented you from meeting the requirement and a description of the hardship you’d suffer if you lose your status.
There are only three situations in which you can count your time outside Canada towards your residency obligation:
- If you’re a permanent resident spouse, common-law partner, or child (until the age of 22 years) accompanying your Canadian citizen parent(s).
- If you were employed on a full-time basis outside of Canada by a Canadian business or the federal or provincial public service.
- If you were outside of Canada on military duty.
Proof of Your Employment by a Canadian Business
If you’re a permanent resident applying for Canadian citizenship, you need to prove that you were employed full-time by a Canadian business. This is one of the ways that you can meet your residency obligation, although there are other situations as well (see the below list).
Your employer will need to provide a letter on official company letterhead with your name and title written at the top. This letter should also include the company address, phone number, and email address. The letter should also contain an itemized list of your duties as they pertain to the job you were performing when you worked in Canada.
This is particularly important for applicants in the Express Entry pool and who claimed work experience during that process. The list of duties must be clearly written so that it appears genuine and not simply a rehash of the information found on your T4 tax slips from your previous employment.
You can count days of employment outside Canada towards your residency obligations in three situations. These include: if you were working on an assignment abroad for a Canadian business (that is, an international office of the Canadian company that had hired you in Canada) and/or if you were a foreign-posted employee of a federal, provincial, or territorial government or its agency.
Proof of Your Travels Outside Canada
Each permanent resident in Canada is required to spend at least 730 days inside the country during a five-year period. This is a requirement determined by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). However, you can still maintain your residency status even if you travel outside the country for extended periods. You simply have to prove that you travelled outside of the country for reasons beyond your control and that you can now meet your residency obligation.
One of the ways that you can do this is by showing proof that you were travelling with a Canadian citizen. Each day that you are abroad accompanying a Canadian citizen who is your spouse or common-law partner counts as a day of physical presence in Canada. The same applies to children who are the children of a Canadian citizen.
This proof can include flight records, hotel bookings, restaurant receipts, and bank statements. If you show this proof to a border officer, they will usually allow you to enter Canada on the condition that you will continue to meet your residency obligations in the future.
It is also important to always keep your PR card or Permanent Resident Travel Document with you when traveling outside the country. This is the only way you will be able to demonstrate to a border officer that you are a permanent resident of Canada. If you cannot present this proof, you will be forced to voluntarily renounce your permanent residency status, which can take several weeks to process.
Proof of Your Intent to Return to Canada
As a permanent resident, you must show that you intend to return to Canada within a certain time frame, or you could lose your status. This obligation, known as the residency requirement, was established by a new immigration law called IRPA, which was enacted in June 2002. Generally, you must accumulate at least two years (730 days) of “residence days” within every five-year period. Exceptions to the residency requirement include working full-time outside Canada for a Canadian business or for the federal, provincial, or territorial government; or being the spouse, common-law partner, or child of a Canadian citizen who lives abroad.
When you go to a visa interview, you must convince the officer that you will return after your studies are over. The more credible evidence you have to support your claims, the more likely the decision will be in your favour.
Providing proof that you own property in your home country is an excellent way to demonstrate your intent to return. This is because property is a large investment, and most people would not want to abandon it for another country without good reason.
Another way to prove your intent is to offer evidence of strong social and cultural ties in your home country, such as memberships in community organizations, family ties, or volunteer work. You can also provide evidence of your compliance with immigration laws, such as a record of departure upon expiry of a visa.