In 2019, Canada received more than 341,000 permanent residents, including 30,000 resettled refugees. In addition in the single year 2019, more than 402,000 study permits and 404,000 temporary work permits were issued.


You can divide permanent residence programs in two ways:

First, regionally, as federal immigration programs and provincial immigration programs.

Second, thematically, as economic immigration, family immigration, refugees and H&C. Regardless of how you divide the programs, the number of programs and names of the programs remain the same, but it helps with understanding.

There are 10 federal immigration programs,

  1. Federal Skilled Worker Class
  2. Federal Skilled Trade Class
  3. Canadian Experience Class
  4. Start-up Business Class
  5. Self-Employed Person’s Class
  6. Atlantic Immigration Program
  7. Agri-Food Pilot
  8. Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot
  9. Caregivers
  10. PR pathways to Hong Kong Residents.

There are 11 provincial immigration programs called provincial nominee programs. All provinces of Canada except Nunavut have a provincial nominee program. Each provincial nominee program has several immigration streams or sub-programs. A complete list of all federal and provincial immigration programs is available here at the following link: .

Technically, Quebec is an exception in the immigration system, because they have its own immigration system, however, for the sake of simplicity we can include Quebec immigration programs under provincial immigration programs.

Please note, federal immigration programs are directly processed and completed by IRCC, however, provincial nominee programs including the province of Quebec are started, screened, and finalized by provincial immigration departments. However, the final decision and issuance of PR documents are completed by IRCC.

Official provincial government websites for immigration:

  1. Alberta:
  2. British Columbia:
  3. Manitoba:
  4. New Brunswick
  5. Newfoundland and Labrador:
  6. Northwest Territories:
  7. Nova Scotia:
  8. Ontario:
  9. Prince Edward Island:
  10. Saskatchewan:
  11. Yukon:
  12. Quebec:

Who is a permanent resident?

First, let us listen to what the legal definition is and then I will explain later what it means:

Permanent resident: a foreign national becomes a permanent resident if an officer is satisfied that the foreign national has applied for the status, has met the obligations set out in paragraph 20(1)(a), and subsection 20(2), and is not inadmissible.

20(1)(a): to become a permanent resident, they hold the visa or other document required under the regulations and have come to Canada to establish permanent residence.

20(2) Provincial criteria:

(2) A foreign national referred to in subsection 9(1) must also establish, to become a permanent resident, that they hold a document issued by the province indicating that the competent authority of the province is of the opinion that the foreign national complies with the province’s selection criteria.

Did you get it? probably not, now, let me explain it to you in simple terms: A permanent resident is someone who has been given permanent resident status by immigrating to Canada in either federal or provincial immigration programs but is still not a Canadian citizen. Permanent residents are citizens of other countries.

Refugees who are resettled from overseas become permanent residents through the Government-Assisted Refugee Program or the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.

Someone who makes a refugee claim in Canada does not become a permanent resident at that time. To become one, the Immigration and Refugee Board must first approve their claim. Then, they must apply for and get permanent resident status.

How to get permanent residency in Canada?

Legally speaking, a permanent resident visa will be issued to a foreign national to land in Canada and become a permanent resident if they meet the following 6 requirements:

  1. Apply for the visa in accordance with the law/regulations,
  2. Coming to establish permanent residency in Canada,
  3. The foreign national is a member of the class that he/she is applying for,
  4. The foreign national meets the selection criteria and other requirements for that class,
  5. The foreign national and their family members whether they are accompanying or not, are not inadmissible.
  6. The foreign national receives the status and becomes a permanent resident.

In simple terms, you will get permanent resident status if you identify the immigration program that you qualify for, apply for the program, meet the requirements, get selected, intend to reside in Canada permanently, and not be inadmissible.

These 6 simple yet time-consuming steps are explained throughout the permanent residence section.

Permanent Residence Classes

The permanent residence category is divided into the following three classes:

  1. Economic Classes
  2. Family Classes
  3. Refugee Classes

Each one of these classes has several programs, if you qualify for any of these programs and apply for the program, you can become a Canadian permanent resident.

Why become a permanent resident of Canada?

  1. Temporary residents or foreign nationals in Canada have access to public and social services, however, they are required to pay for all the public and social services they use, such as education (most often 3 or 4 times over the PR/citizens pay), public health, etc. If you get Canadian permanent residence, you would be able to enjoy all social and public services for free,
  2. Live, work or study anywhere in Canada without any restrictions,
  3. Apply for Canadian citizenship after qualification,
  4. The Canadian government will assure your protection under Canadian laws and the charter of rights and freedom. All of these benefits are not available to temporary residents or available with restrictions.

More benefits are listed under a separate topic called the difference between temporary residence and permanent residence.

What a permanent resident cannot do?

A permanent resident of Canada does not have enough rights and privileges to :

  1. Participate in politics (run for a public office or vote for a candidate) and
  2. Join public service as a civil servant where high-level security clearance is required.

That is it, these are the only two things a Canadian permanent resident can not do.

Can you lose your PR status?

Yes, you can! Your permanent status is not really permanent, you can lose your status if the followings happen:

  1. If you fail to comply with residency requirements. You must live in Canada for at least 720 days (2 years) in the last 5 years to maintain your status, this time does not need to be continuous.
  2. When you lose your PR status after an inquiry or appeal completed at the immigration division.
  3. You voluntarily renounce your permanent resident status.
  4. A removal order is made against you and comes into force; or
  5. When you become a Canadian citizen.

How to transition from a PR status to Citizenship?

All permanent residents who have lived in Canada for 3 out of the last 5 years, have filed taxes for the last 3 years, and are not inadmissible, are eligible to apply for Citizenship. If these people pass the citizenship test and also prove their language proficiency (CLB4+) can apply for citizenship. It is their right (not privilege) to receive citizenship. For further details, please refer to the citizenship section and find out how to apply.

What is the difference between a Permanent Resident and a Temporary Resident?

There are major differences between temporary residents and permanent residents, taken from rights to the duration of stay and the activities they can do in Canada. The followings are some of the major differences:

  1. Temporary Residents Must leave Canada by the end of their authorized stay in Canada while permanent Residence Can live in Canada indefinitely.
  2. Temporary Residents Need a permit to work or study in Canada, while permanent Residents do not need permits for work or study.
  3. Temporary Residents Pay for most social and public services offered by the Government, while permanent Residents do not need to pay for most social and public services offered by the Government.
  4. Temporary Residents Can not enjoy Canadian protection under most Canadian laws and government protection, while permanent Residents Enjoy full protection under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other laws.
  5. Temporary Residents Must have a visa or an entry permit to re-enter Canada, while permanent Residents Do not need a Canadian visa to re-enter Canada (should they have a valid PR card).
  6. Temporary Residents Have to qualify for a PR program to get permanent residence, while permanent Residents can apply for citizenship after spending 3 years in the last 5 years in Canada. This is his/her right, not a privilege to receive Canadian citizenship.

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    Canadian Immigration System

    Canada's immigration system is based on three pillars, each pillar includes multiple classes, and each class includes multiple programs. These three pillars include Temporary Residence, Permanent Residence, and Citizenship. This website contains all of these programs in various places, however, the followings are a few programs that we have selected for your ease of access.

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