I am from Hong Kong and married a Canadian citizen in May 2016. We have been living in Canada since June 2015, and I applied for PR in Canada in June 2016. I have not received it yet, but let's assume that it comes through any month now.

My husband is considering a move to the US for a job. Let's say that when my PR is granted, I want to move to be with him. According to a 2013 immigrationcanada.pro article, it is possible for me to keep my PR status (and in fact to accumulate "days in Canada" towards my citizenship) while living in the US with my husband:

If you (as a PR) accompany a spouse or common law partner who is a Canadian citizen outside of Canada, then each day outside Canada is considered to be a day physically present in Canada.

We have seen just how much misinformation is out there on immigration subjects, sometimes because the information is out of date.

I have corroborated the above quote with an official document from 2015 that states:

R61(4) provides that each day a permanent resident is outside Canada accompanying (that is, ordinarily residing with) a Canadian citizen constitutes a day of physical presence in Canada, provided that the Canadian citizen they are accompanying is a spouse or commonlaw partner or parent.

My questions are:

  1. Is the above information still true today, in June 2017?
  2. How old is the policy in the quotes, and how likely is it to change in the future?
  3. Is there anything that I am overlooking in this situation that may cause trouble or surprises?
  • If I were you I would look up the relevant statute online to see whether it has changed. To get a more definitive answer, though, you should ask a Canadian immigration lawyer.
    – phoog
    Jun 19, 2017 at 18:06
  • 1
    By the way this worked out fine. He moved to the US for his work in Nov 2017, I followed in Dec, and then in Jan my PR came through so I made a trip up to sign the papers, but I had to wait a few weeks for the card in the mail before exiting Canada again. Since then, we returned to Canada and are working on accumulating time towards citizenship!
    – tar
    Mar 19, 2021 at 12:52

1 Answer 1


The law your quotes are based on is Section 28 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The current version of the law is here and essentially says the same thing: days spent outside Canada accompanying a Canadian spouse are days that may be counted to meet your residency obligation to retain Permanent Resident status. That page also links older versions of the same law; from the oldest of these, from 2003, it appears that this part of the law has not changed in at least 14 years. Note that this is from the law itself (rather than, say, a departmental policy enabled by a delegation in the law) so it can change only if the law is amended.

I don't know what the documentation requirements are for this but you'll probably want to keep track of any days your spouse is in Canada without you and subtract these off so they don't catch you in an error should they ever want to investigate whether you've met the obligation.

It should probably be pointed out that this part of the law is only relevant to retaining PR status and has nothing to do with the requirements for citizenship. To qualify for the latter you really do have to accumulate physical presence in Canada as a PR with very few exceptions (e.g. travel as a government employee), which you won't be doing if you live in the US. You will, however, retain the right to return to Canada to live as a PR even without physical presence.

  • "In Canada without you": what about if the spouse is elsewhere outside of Canada without the PR, or when the PR travels (except to Canada) without the spouse?
    – phoog
    Jun 19, 2017 at 19:06
  • @phoog, to tell the truth if they're living together at the same residential address outside Canada, and can show that, they're probably good despite separate travel. The practical reason one might want want to special-case Canada travel (and perhaps any travel that shows up as mismatched passport stamps) is that this is the only independent data they'll have to dispute any assertions made and it is slightly better to head that off ahead of time by volunteering all the information they'll know anyway, leaving them as little as possible to complain about.
    – Dennis
    Jun 19, 2017 at 20:09
  • Thank you, this is really useful. I did not realize that days of residence for PR status are not the same as days of residence for citizenship.
    – tar
    Jun 20, 2017 at 13:21

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