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Canadian permanent resident and Canadian citizen: What’s the Difference

Canadian permanent resident and Canadian Citizen: What’s the Difference

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People who want to move to Canada often ask us what the difference is between a permanent resident and a citizen.  When someone moves to Canada and applies for permanent residence, it indicates that they have been granted permission to remain in the country indefinitely. One who resides in Canada on a permanent basis is not a citizen of Canada but is instead a citizen of another country.

Many people who want to move to Canada want to become citizens of Canada. But you have to be a long resident of Canada before you can become a citizen. In fact, the end goal of every Canadian immigration program, including provincial routes like the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) or Quebec Immigration, is permanent residence in Canada.

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When you become a permanent resident, a permanent residence (PR) card is immediately given to you. A PR card is kind of like a green card in the United States.

Once someone becomes a permanent resident of Canada, they have a number of rights, such as: access to the same social benefits as any Canadian citizen, such as healthcare coverage; the right to live, work, and study anywhere in Canada; protection under Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; the right to apply for Canadian citizenship.

Someone must first become a regular resident before they can become a citizen. Here are three of the biggest differences between people who live in Canada permanently and people who are born there:

  1. The right to vote and run for public office

Permanent residents of Canada also have a lot of the same social duties as citizens of Canada, like paying taxes and following the law. Actually, Canadian citizens can do only two things that permanent residents can’t. Permanent residents of Canada can neither vote nor run for public office. Permanent residents are also not allowed to work in certain government jobs that require a high level of security clearance.

  1. A Canadian passport vs. a PR card

Canadian permanent residents do not get a Canadian visa. Permanent residents can leave the country as long as they have a current PR card or a Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTD) and their passport from their home country.

PR cards are only good for a certain amount of time, so they need to be updated often. But just because your PR card expires doesn’t mean you lose your position as a permanent resident. To keep your status as a permanent resident, you do have to meet certain standards.

  1. The right to live somewhere other than Canada

As a regular resident, you can live anywhere in the world. But you have to live in Canada for at least two years out of every five years. If you leave Canada for a long time, you might lose your position. There are, however, some exceptions. For instance, time spent outside of Canada with a Canadian citizen spouse, common-law partner, or parent can work toward residency. You can also count time spent abroad if a Canadian company sends you to work somewhere else in the world.

Even if you fail to meet residency standards, you do not automatically lose permanent residence status. A formal method is the only way to lose your status.

Once permanent residents have met certain requirements for living in the country, they can ask for citizenship. As a naturalized Canadian citizen, they can get a Canadian visa and take part in Canadian politics as they please. In fact, there is no difference at all between people who were born in Canada and people who became Canadian citizens later.

The most important difference between a Canadian permanent resident and a Canadian citizen is that a permanent resident must keep their fixed residence. After you become a Canadian citizen, you don’t have to do anything to keep it. You can only stop being a Canadian citizen if you give it up on your own.


  1. Permanent residents of Canada have the right to dwell in Canada and receive many of the same social advantages as citizens.
  2. Permanent residents cannot vote, seek for office, or work in high-security government positions.
  3. Permanent residents can depart and enter Canada with a valid PR card or PRTD.
  4. Failure to meet residency criteria does not automatically result in status loss for permanent residents.
  5. Permanent residents can seek for Canadian citizenship and get a passport and full political participation after meeting the qualifications.
  6. Permanent residents must complete residency criteria or lose their status, although Canadian citizens do not.
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