A permanent resident is someone who has been given permanent resident status by immigrating to Canada, but is not a Canadian citizen. Permanent residents are citizens of other countries.
A person in Canada temporarily, like a student or foreign worker, is not a permanent resident.
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.
The permanent resident (PR) card
Your PR card can be used to show that you have permanent resident status in Canada. If you travel outside Canada, you will need to show your card and your passport when you come back on a commercial vehicle, like an airplane, boat, train or bus.
PRs traveling outside Canada who do not have a valid PR card, or who are not carrying it, need to apply for a permanent resident travel document before returning to Canada by commercial vehicle.
What permanent residents can do
As a permanent resident, you have the right to:
get most social benefits that Canadian citizens receive, including health care coverage,
live, work or study anywhere in Canada,
apply for Canadian citizenship,
protection under Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
You must pay taxes and respect all Canadian laws at the federal, provincial and municipal levels.
What permanent residents cannot do
You are not allowed to:
vote or run for political office,
hold some jobs that need a high-level security clearance.