Losing your Permanent Resident status

Losing your permanent resident (PR) status does not happen automatically. For example, you do not lose your permanent resident status if your PR card expires. You must go through an official process (or give up your status voluntarily) before you lose your PR status. We have described some common ways to risk losing your PR status. If you are subject to proceedings to remove your permanent resident status or have any questions about being a permanent resident, we invite you to contact one of our immigration lawyers.

You may lose your PR status if:

  • you do not live in Canada for two out of five years;
  • you are convicted of a serious crime and told to leave Canada; or
  • you become a Canadian citizen.

Admissibility Issues

If you are convicted of a serious crime, you may risk losing your permanent resident status and may face removal from Canada. Other acts that could lead to losing your PR status include security, human or international rights violations, organized criminality and misrepresentation. If this has happened, you are strongly encouraged to contact one of our immigration lawyers listed below. Under some circumstances, we can assist you to stay in Canada.

A serious crime is defined as:

  • A conviction punishable by a maximum prison term of at least 10 years
  • A conviction where you have been sentenced to a prison term of more than 6 months
  • If you are convicted outside of Canada, the offence is punishable by a maximum prison term of at least 10 years; OR
  • If you are convicted outside of Canada, the offence is punishable by a maximum prison term of at least 10 years in the country you were convicted in.

An argument against inadmissibility for serious criminality may include an analysis comparing a foreign criminal offence with the alleged Canadian equivalent. Criminal laws may be very different between Canada and other countries, so you are not always automatically inadmissible for a serious crime because an immigration officer says so. 

PR Residency Obligations

Permanent residents are required to live in Canada for at least 2 years within a 5 year period. During this time, you must be in Canada physically.

The two years do not need to be continuous. Your time in Canada counts when you re-enter Canada or apply for a permanent resident card.

Your time outside Canada may also count towards the two year requirement if you are travelling with your spouse or partner who is a Canadian citizen, a child travelling with his or her parents (one of whom is a Canadian citizen), or an employee of or contractor to a Canadian business.

Sometimes, you cannot reside in Canada for the required two year period. You may have a compelling reason to not live in Canada for the two year requirement, such as an illness in the family, a medical emergency or for exceptional employment reasons. If this is your situation, you should contact one of our immigration lawyers to see what options are available to you. 

There are a number of considerations when it comes to calculating your two year residency obligation. If you have any questions, our immigration lawyers would be happy to assist you.  

Appeal Rights

An immigration officer may decide you should lose your PR status for failing to meet the residency obligation, for committing a serious crime, or for another reason.  A removal order may be issued against you depending on your circumstances. 

If a permanent resident has applied to sponsor a family member and that decision is negative, you may be able to appeal this decision. 

An appeal to an immigration officer's negative decision is made to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD). If an appeal to the IAD is unsuccessful, you have the option of appealing to the Federal Court of Canada. The timelines for these appeals are very tight. Our lawyers have handled hundreds of appeals and we are familiar with assessing your eligibility to appeal, court or tribunal procedure, creating appeal records, and preparing you for the hearing.

Sponsoring Family Members

Permanent residents can sponsor certain family members to come to Canada. These categories may include:

  • Spouse and common-law partners;
  • Parents and grandparents;
  • Adopted children;
  • Brothers or sisters, nephews or nieces, and grandchildren who have been orphaned, are under 18 years of age, and are not married or in a common-law relationship; and
  • Accompanying relatives, usually meaning dependent children (under the age of 18, or unable to leave their parent's care due to a mental or physical disability).

Our office regularly handles family sponsorship applications.  Please contact one of our immigration lawyers to learn more.


If you have lived in Canada as a permanent resident for a certain length of time, are over the age of 18, and are not subject to immigration removal proceedings, you may qualify to apply for Canadian citizenship. If you have any questions on whether you are eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship or would like assistance with applying, please contact one of our immigration lawyers.

For a more detailed article on acquiring Canadian citizenship, please click here.

One of our immigration lawyers below will be happy to assist you.