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.



Oct 11, 2017. Today is the day the new citizenship law comes into force. Sometime in the dead of last night, the IRCC elves uploaded the new forms and checklists to the website. [EDIT: It turned out that the IRCC elves were half asleep (or just messing with us) when they uploaded the forms online in the wee hours of Oct 11. So once typed, the forms could not be printed. This wasn’t corrected until about 3pm Atlantic time.]

Under the new rules, you must live in Canada for 3 out of 5 years as a permanent resident to qualify for Canadian citizenship. If you have also lived in Canada temporarily during those 5 years, each temporary day counts for half of a full day, up to a maximum of 1 year. So for example, if you were here as a student for 2 years, then became a PR, you can apply for citizenship after just 2 years living here as a PR within that 5-year window.

If you are between 18-54, you have to show proof of English or French language ability, you have to provide proof of filing CRA income tax returns and police clearances for any country you have lived in outside of Canada during the 5-year window. There is now an option on the forms to change sex designation.

The biggest surprise to me is the application fee is still $630 for adults and $530 for minors*. It used to be $200. I was hoping that with the new rules, there would be a renewed benevolence on the fee issue, to ensure citizenship is not cost-prohibitive. Sadly, that didn’t happen. [EDIT: it’s actually $100 for minors applying with an adult. The $530 is for minors who are applying for citizenship alone.]

We have a pile of applications waiting to be assembled and a courier heading to Cape Breton this afternoon to deliver them to the IRCC Case Processing Centre in Sydney. [EDIT: IRCC’s external (and apparently also internal) computer system crashed badly yesterday. Nevertheless, we still made the courier deadline and sent our first package of applications to Sydney at 4:30. I had a quick word with the applications before they left the building. Godspeed guys, and good luck in Sydney.]

First giant coffee of the day is finished.

Here’s to being good-busy.

[EDIT: But next time, let’s try not to have a heart attack.]


Sounds easy, right? CIC keeps trying to make it simpler for people to do their own immigration paperwork. But they just keep making the process and explanations of the process more and more difficult. Who in their right mind (other than a curious and critical immigration lawyer…) would follow these links and actually feel like they understand the process? Plus, you have to love the fact that CIC refers to “Social Development Canada” (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/hire/skilled.asp)


I feel sorry for employers who attempt to navigate through these rules for the first time, innocently thinking they are actually going to be able to bring a new worker into Canada (a) ever; or (b) in any sort of workable time-frame.


Then again, who doesn’t need a little help with their social development? Especially when you earnestly follow the government’s simple instructions which sends you in circles, cursing and pulling your hair out.


Hooray for simplicity.

I wonder if this will have ramification for people in Nova Scotia who used unscrupulous immigration consultants to get citizenship. So far, I haven’t heard of anyone receiving such a letter. The article does not explain that in order to become a citizen you only have to live in Canada for 3 out of a 4 year period (1095 days). Once you are a citizen, you do not have to fulfill a residency obligation (as you do for Permanent Residence, a whole other can of worms).  The article singles out the people from Lebanon who are Canadian citizens and were part of the evacuation in 2006. In fact, a lot of them probably aren’t doing anything wrong or breaking any rules. They became citizens at some point in the distant past when they did live here for a 3-year period and then moved back to Lebanon.  The law allows this.  Maybe the rules need changing, but for now, it seem to me that trying to revoke citizenship is going to be a heck of a lot easier said than done.


When most people think of Canadian immigration, they are thinking about permanent residence in Canada. Applications for permanent residence fall into the following categories: The Family Class (spouses, dependent children and parent/grandparent sponsorship), the Economic Classes (Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Programs) and Refugee and Humanitarian programs. Programs open and close regularly so it is important to get the right information at the right time. There are also some obscure categories which are not well known but which can be very useful in the right circumstances. These would include the “Lonely Canadian”  (within the family class) and the Federal Self-Employed program (for artists, athletes and farmers). Read more »

Canadian citizenship can be obtained in two ways. Through a application for Canadian Citizenship and through a Confirmation of Canadian Citizenship. We can help you with your application for Canadian citizenship and will explain the Canadian citizenship requirements to you. Read more »