Receiving your Canadian Permanent Resident (PR) status is an accomplishment in itself and does take time, commitment, and financial resources. However, many PR applicants spend too much time on learning how to get it and do not spend enough time thinking about one important point: the mobility rights of Permanent Residents. Where I am allowed to settle? Can I move to another province? etc.

This article will let you know your mobility rights and obligations in Canada as a new Permanent Resident. These will depend on how you got your PR status, either with a provincial nomination (PNP), or without.

Arrival at a Port of Entry (PoE)

You need to understand that you are not a Permanent Resident until a border immigration officer (at a PoE) signs your Confirmation of Permanent Residence (CoPR). You are thus not protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms until then.

For example, if you have been nominated by a province and arrive at a Port of Entry (PoE), you will be asked where you are going to reside. If you declare that you will be moving to a province other than the one that nominated you, the immigration officer will most likely refuse to grant you the PR status, on the grounds of misrepresentation. Because it is clear that you never intended to reside in the province that nominated you and lied on your application. 

Can I move to another province after landing (without PNP)?

When your Permanent Resident (PR) application is approved, you are given a document called Confirmation of Permanent Residence (CoPR). This document includes the “City of Destination” where you said you intend to live after activating your PR status at a Canadian Port of Entry (PoE). 

When you become PR through the Express Entry system (either with the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program, the Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program, or the Canadian Experience Class (CEC)without a provincial nomination, you have not signed any commitment to reside in any province. You only declared the city of destination that is printed on your CoPR. 

When you become a Permanent Resident of Canada, you get almost all the rights that a Canadian citizen enjoys. One these, in Section 6 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is what is called the “Mobility Rights“. These stipulate that “Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right: (i) to move to and take up residence in any province, and (ii) to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.

These rights basically mean that you are allowed to move from your intended city & province of landing (as stated in the CoPR) to another province. This is further confirmed in the Help Centre of the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.

It is totally possible to move to Quebec, even if their immigration system is relatively more independent than other provinces in terms of immigration. Indeed, Quebec remains a province of Canada, subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and its article 6.

Can I move out of the province that nominated me (PNP)?

When you become Permanent Resident (PR) through one of the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP), moving out of the province that nominated you is a little trickier. Indeed, when you apply to receive a provincial nomination, you sign a letter indicating your intent to settle in the province, and in some cases like in New Brunswick, you even sign a commitment to reside in the province.

The fact of the matter is, one of the main reasons why provinces grant a nomination is for you to reside in the province and contribute to its economic development. It often happens that a province withdraws its provincial nomination before the PR status is granted. This will happen if someone lives in a province (working or studying), applies and receives a provincial nomination, and then moves out of the province before the PR application is processed and PR status granted. 

As soon as you get the PR status, you are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and its Article 6 (Mobility Rights” ). Some might think that these rights guarantee free movement between provinces, however, there are some limitations to these rights, and one of the most important is the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP). But nowhere in the law is there a minimum stay period in the nominating province. The law on this point remains ambiguous and open to interpretation. 

​This is why you need to be careful when deciding to move out a province that nominated you after getting PR status. This province can come after you, requesting IRCC to revoke your PR status on the grounds of misrepresentation. Indeed, the province will say that you misrepresented your intent to stay in the province and had no intention in residing and living in the province. If this request goes through and you are found to have misrepresented your intent, you will be deported and be inadmissible to enter Canada for 5 years.

However, you can defend yourself in these situations (see below what you can do to prove intent) and it is also not automatic that you will be pursued for misrepresentation if you decide to leave the province that nominated you. Usually, this will happen very often if you don’t even bother to try and settle in the province. New Brunswick, for example, requires its nominees to register in person in the province within 30 days of landing in Canada, and will try to revoke PR status for those who haven’t done so (after several follow-ups).

When can I move out of the nominating province?

Right after your PR status is granted (after your CoPR is signed at the PoE), you should definitely go and settle in the province that nominated you. The question that a lot of immigrants ask themselves is for how long should I stay?

There is no definitive answer as there is nothing explicit in the law. What you have to know is that a province can try and revoke your PR status if they feel that you misrepresented your intent to stay in the province. This is why it is important to keep in mind that you need to show and document your intent (see section below for more details and examples). 

Some people wait as little as 2 months, when they receive their PR card, and then move to another province. This is not recommended as obtaining the PR card has nothing to do with obtaining the PR status. 

Some others will wait up until they fulfill their 730 days (2 years) Permanent Residence requirement, as the intent is firmly proved and the risk of a revoked PR status would seem very low. 

Either way, a period of stay of 1 to 2 years would seem to be enough to prove your initial intent to stay in the province. However, when moving to another province, some steps are highly recommended.

What to do when I intend to move out of the nominating province?

We need to categorize two types of situations: (i) one where the immigrant does not find a job, and (ii) one where they do.

(i) If you are a newly established provincial nominee, and you have difficulty finding a good job related to your primary NOC code, you have every right to look elsewhere. However, for how long to keep looking until moving to another province? Well, 3 to 6 months seems to be fair enough. But, you will need to document all your activities during that period of time:
  • Proof of your job hunting and your rejection letters,
  • Exhaust all employment resources offered by the province,
  • Proof of residence in the province (lease, etc) as well as your electricity and/or gas bills,
  • Proof that you have or have requested the provincial healthcare card, and
  • Any other document that can prove your initial intent to stay in the province.

(ii) If you have been working in the province for a while, and you want to move to another province, you still need a good reason to. One would be that you found a better job with better pay. Other reasons would be that you got married and have to join your partner outside the province, etc. 

Either way, you should contact your province’s immigration authorities and tell them about your intentions to move and your reasons why. You should do this because they will know sooner or later, as provinces keep track of their provincial nominees.
If they can’t offer you services to help you stay, then at least you have proof that you tried your best and that you warned them of your move.

Can I move to Quebec?

Section 6 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to all provinces, including Quebec. Despite a more independent immigration system than the rest of the provinces, because of Quebec’s advanced autonomy status, Quebec can not deny access to its territory under the famous Section 6 to Permanent Residents.

If you come from another province, it is not mandatory to have a “Certificat de Sélection du Québec (CSQ)” to apply for the health insurance card (RAMQ), or the driver’s license, or to enroll in a university or post-secondary school.

You can even request a “Certificat de Non-CSQ” at the Quebec Ministry of Immigration, Diversity, and Inclusion (MIDI). This will be proof that you can present in the event that a public or private organization asks you to submit a CSQ.