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There are many pathways to living in Canada, but they all start with one question: Should I choose a temporary resident or permanent resident pathway? There are benefits to both! Let’s dig into the differences, benefits, and drawbacks of the pathways to see whether TR is better than PR.

Key Takeaways: 

  • TR, short for temporary residence, means living in Canada on a temporary permit before transitioning to permanent resident status after a year or more. 
  • PR, short for permanent residence, is an immigration status that gives the holder the right to live permanently in Canada. 
  • Newcomers to Canada who immigrate through a ‘two step’ process (TR to PR) tend to have better economic outcomes in the long term vs those who arrive directly through permanent residence. 
  • Those who arrive directly as a permanent resident do not need to transition from TR to PR, which can be a significant benefit for those looking for certainty in the short term. 

Watch our video.


What’s The Difference Between Temporary Residence and Permanent Residence In Canada? 

It’s all in the name! 

Temporary residence allows the holder of the status to live (and usually and in some cases work) in Canada on a temporary basis. Common examples of temporary residence status include study permits, IEC (International Experience Canada) programs – including the working holiday program – and the LMIA programs.

Temporary residents aren’t always granted the same rights as permanent residents. Access to healthcare varies depending on the province you live in as a temporary resident, and you may not have access to the same government programs and support services as permanent residents. In some provinces, certain temporary residents may not be able to get a Canadian driver’s licence. 

Permanent residence, on the other hand, allows the holder of the status to live permanently in Canada. Or rather, relatively permanently. There are ongoing requirements permanent residents need to meet to renew their permanent residence status, including a requirement to be in Canada for at least 730 days in the last five years.

Permanent residents in Canada can typically access government support (though, there are some complications associated with this for permanent residents sponsored by a spouse or family member). Those with PR status can also usually access Canada’s public healthcare resources, and may even gain easier access to certain countries (like Mexico). 



Why Would You Choose To Become a Temporary Resident In Canada?

There are many reasons you might choose to become a temporary resident in Canada:

Lower Cost

The cost of becoming a temporary resident in Canada will vary depending on the pathway you choose, but it can be much more affordable than the permanent residency pathways. One example of this is that an IEC application fee, plus the biometrics fee, is $257 CAD. While an Express Entry application processing fee is $857 CAD.

You will typically need to pay additional fees to become a PR too, including English language tests and medical exams. While these tests may be required for some temporary residents too, not all do. (It depends on the program and the country of residence of the applicant.)

Upskill While You Live In Canada

Temporary residents often are able to come to Canada with fewer barriers to entry. Language requirements aren’t always as stringent, and there are not always work experience or education requirements for temporary residents either. This gives individuals who may not qualify for the economic immigration pathways to PR an opportunity to come to Canada and live (and work or study) while they gain the skills needed to immigrate to Canada through the economic immigration pathways. 

If you do not currently have the skills, education, experience, or language proficiency to immigrate to Canada, temporary residence offers pathways to move sooner and develop these skills in Canada.

It Opens Doors To Permanent Residence

Getting permanent residence can be challenging. Economic immigration to Canada is competitive, and the Express Entry CRS system often favours applicants with work experience in Canada. Similarly, immigrating through family sponsorship can take years and there can be hurdles along the way. 

Getting work experience in Canada opens pathways that may not otherwise be available to you. And often, getting work experience in Canada is most easily achieved by becoming a temporary resident in Canada. 

Better Economic Outcomes

Two step immigrants are individuals who came to Canada as a temporary resident and become a permanent resident later. These individuals often have higher earnings than similar people who immigrate by becoming a permanent resident first. 

Here are two quotes from a StatsCan report on two-step immigration from January 2024:

The results of this study reveal that two-step immigrants consistently had higher annual earnings than their one-step counterparts within the same admission class when the comparison started from their initial arrival year.”

“When in the same admission programs, two-step immigrants consistently had higher earnings than one-step immigrants, both in the initial years and a decade after their arrival.”


Immigrating As A Permanent Resident in Canada

The main benefit of opting to immigrate as a permanent resident is the certainty that comes with it. We won’t lie, the transition from temporary resident status to permanent residency can be rough. It’s uncertain, it’s downright scary at times, and there’s no guarantee that the pathways you think you’ll be able to use when you start life as a temporary resident in Canada will still be available once you’re ready to apply for permanent residency.

Consider all the changes we have seen this year regarding the study permit programs. Students who started studying in Canada are likely much less certain about whether they’ll be able to transition to permanent residency afterwards. BC has already announced major changes to its student PNPs, which may impact those who are already studying in BC. We’re also expecting more announcements that will impact temporary residents in the coming months.

Permanent residency, on the other hand, comes with much less uncertainty. You gather the documents, take the tests you need to take, apply, and wait for an outcome. You haven’t started your life in Canada, so it often feels less like it could all be taken away from you. And once you arrive in Canada, you’re almost guaranteed to be able to stay (so long as you follow the rules). 

This certainty is an attractive prospect. And it’s something that’s compelling for those who are able to gain PR status in a one-step process. 

Should I Go For PR or Extend My TR Status?

If you opt for the TR pathway first, you might need to consider whether to stay in Canada as a temporary resident or to go for PR once you get towards the end of your TR permit timeframe. 

This will be an individual choice. You should consider whether you want to stay in Canada long term, or if you’re still undecided. Do you want to buy a property? (If so, it’s probably going to be best to get PR status.) Do you want to get married and have children? (Again, PR might be more appropriate here if you want increased certainty when you have children.)


One Final Note About PR

Author’s note: Once when I was traveling from Australia to Canada, the attendee checking me in for my flight noticed my passport had a minor amount of wear and tear. They outlined that they would have to seek permission for me to fly to Canada based on the damage. Canada permitted me to fly in on an otherwise invalid passport based on my permanent resident status. Had I not been a PR, I would have needed to wait in Australia for a new passport. So, the power of PR really shone through on that day. (This is not an advertisement for playing roulette with passport validity since whether or not you’re allowed in will depend on the border guard’s individual decision on the day. I’ll be making sure everything is pristine before travelling next time!)

Still Not Sure? Take Our Quiz!

If you’re curious which pathways you’re eligible for, sign up for a free Moving2Canada account and take our free immigration quiz. 

About the author

Stephanie Ford profile picture

Stephanie Ford

Finance, Law and Immigration Writer
Stephanie is a content marketer who has written for law firms (with a focus on immigration and privacy), legal tech companies, and finance professionals for more than 9 years. She earned a Bachelor of Laws and a Graduate Diploma in Financial Planning in Australia. Stephanie is now a permanent resident of Canada and a full-time writer at Moving2Canada.
Read more about Stephanie Ford
Citation "TR or PR in Canada: Which One Is Better?." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation


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