We often get inquiries from people who are permanent residents (PRs) of Canada and have lived here for several years.

They need to depart Canada for job opportunities, or sick relatives or other reasons that will take them away for a number of years. And they are worried about losing their PR status.

Often they are breadwinners whose spouse or kids have been in Canada long term, supported by the overseas (or to be overseas) person who comes and goes. They have ties in both countries but not enough time in Canada to qualify to apply for citizenship yet.

“How can I keep my PR status? I don’t want to lose it since I plan to return in a few years.”

I explain to them that under Canadian immigration law, if you are overseas with a spouse who is a Canadian citizen, your PR status is preserved. The days you spend outside Canada living with your spouse count towards the residency obligation in s. 28 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

I call this the little Canadian umbrella. Your PR status is protected by being with a Canadian-citizen spouse (or parent, if you are a minor) outside Canada.

So if the spouse is a Canadian citizen and can accompany them, that is often the best way for the PR to keep their status while overseas.  There are of course, some exceptions to the rule, and some litigation on who is accompanying who overseas, but generally speaking, it is fairly settled law.

And whenever I talk to anyone about this, I end up with this song in my head for the rest of the day:


You’re welcome.