Calculating residence/physical presence for certain family members of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident living abroad

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

In some instances, time outside Canada as a Crown servant or as the family member of a Crown servant can be counted towards the residence/physical presence requirement for a grant or resumption of citizenship. The time that can be counted and the way it is calculated depends on if the application was received before or after coming into force of changes to the Citizenship Act (the Act) through the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act on June 11, 2015.

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Calculation for applications received before June 11, 2015

Under subsection 5(1.1) of the Act, a citizenship applicant can count time residing with their Canadian citizen spouse who was employed outside of Canada in or with the Canadian Armed Forces or the public service of Canada or the public service of a province or territory, but not as a locally engaged staff, as time spent residing in Canada for the purpose of meeting the residence requirement for citizenship. Subsection 5(1.1) only specifically refers to “spouse;” however, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s policy is also to apply that subsection to common-law partners.

The following periods spent residing with the spouse or common-law partner during the four-year period immediately before an application for citizenship may be counted:

  • any day of residence outside Canada, before lawful admission to Canada as a permanent resident, is equivalent to one-half day of residence in Canada;
  • any day of residence outside Canada, after lawful admission to Canada as a permanent resident, is equivalent to one day of residence in Canada.

Residence may be counted starting from the time the applicant has been able to establish that a common-law relationship began.

If there was no common-law relationship prior to the marriage, the time spent outside Canada before the date of the marriage cannot be counted as residence under subsection 5(1.1).

Note: If the applicant was accompanying their spouse or common-law partner and the applicant became a locally engaged staff, that time can continue to be counted under subsection 5(1.1) of the Act. The applicant’s employment status has no bearing on these subsections.

Calculation for applications received on or after June 11, 2015

Under subsection 5(1.01), a citizenship applicant can count time residing with their Canadian citizen spouse or common-law partner who was employed outside of Canada in or with the Canadian Armed Forces, the public service of Canada, or the public service of a province or territory, but not as a locally engaged staff, as time spent residing in Canada for the purpose of meeting the physical presence requirement for citizenship.

Also, under subsection 5(1.03), a citizenship applicant can count time residing with their permanent resident spouse, common-law partner, or parent who was employed outside Canada in or with the Canadian Armed Forces, the public service of Canada, or the public service of a province or territory, but not as a locally engaged staff as time spent residing in Canada for the purpose of meeting the physical presence requirement for citizenship.

If the applicant was accompanying their family member and the applicant became a locally engaged staff, that time can continue to be counted under subsection 5(1.01) or 5(1.03). The applicant’s employment status has no bearing on these subsections.

For applications received between June 11, 2015 and October 10, 2017

The following periods spent residing with the family member during the six-year period immediately before an application for citizenship may be counted:

  • any day of residence outside Canada as a permanent resident is equivalent to one day of physical presence in Canada;
  • any day of residence outside Canada not as a permanent resident cannot be counted.

For applications received on or after October 11, 2017

The following periods spent residing with the family member during the five-year period immediately before an application for citizenship may be counted:

  • any day of residence outside Canada as a permanent resident is equivalent to one day of physical presence in Canada;
  • any day of residence outside Canada not as a permanent resident cannot be counted.

Physical presence may be counted starting from the time the applicant has been able to establish that a common-law relationship began.

If there was no common-law relationship prior to the marriage, the time spent outside Canada before the date of the marriage cannot be counted as physical presence under subsection 5(1.01) or (1.03).

Note: Subsection 5(1.02) permits permanent residents to count time in which they are employed outside Canada with one of the government institutions referenced above to be treated as equivalent to physical presence in Canada. Refer to How residence/physical presence is calculated.

Absences from country of residence outside Canada

For all applications (received before, on, or after June 11, 2015), if the applicant travelled outside the country of residence to accompany their family member as part of their family member’s duties for employment, this time can be counted as residence/physical presence.

If the applicant travelled outside the country of residence (other than to Canada) for any other reason (e.g., vacation), this time is counted as an absence.

Definition of “common-law partner”

"Common-law partner" means a person who is cohabiting with an individual (of the same sex or the opposite sex) in a conjugal relationship, and having so cohabited for a period of at least one year. “Cohabitation” means living together in the same home. Although, temporary absences may have occurred for reasons such as work, business travel, or family obligations.

A common-law relationship is fact-based and exists from the day in which two individuals demonstrate that the relationship exists on the basis of the facts.

For more information about common-law relationships, including allowable exceptions to the requirement to cohabit, see the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and sections 5 and 6 of manual chapter OP 2.

Required documentation

The applicant must provide the following supporting documentation:

  • a completed Physical presence outside Canada form [CIT 0177 (PDF, 667.46 KB)];
  • a marriage certificate or the Statutory declaration of common-law union form [CIT 0458 (PDF, 621.91 KB)];
  • proof of employment of spouse, common-law partner, or parent in or with the Canadian Armed Forces, the public service of Canada or a province or territory;
  • proof of Canadian citizenship of the spouse, common-law partner, or parent (i.e., a certificate of Canadian citizenship or a provincial or territorial birth certificate); and
  • (for applications received on or after June 11, 2015, only) proof of permanent resident status of the spouse, common-law partner, or parent.

Note: The proof of employment must confirm that the spouse, common-law partner, or parent is not a locally engaged person.

If necessary, the applicant may be requested to submit additional evidence of the common-law union. Here are some examples of supporting documents:

  • family memberships, medical plans, documentation from institutions that provides recognition as a couple;
  • commitment ceremony (certificate), domestic partnership certificate;
  • joint ownership of possessions, lease/rental agreement, joint mortgage/loan, property title;
  • joint utility bills, such as electricity, gas, telephone;
  • joint financial documents such as bank statements, or credit cards;
  • documents showing travel together;
  • insurance policies (documents naming the partner as a beneficiary), wills, powers of attorney;
  • significant photographs;
  • statements of support from families, bank manager, employers, financial professionals, religious leaders, community leaders, professors, teachers or medical professionals;
  • correspondence addressed to either or both parties at the same address;
  • evidence of joint purchases, especially for household items;
  • evidence of children of one or both partners residing with the couple.
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