When to apply for Canadian citizenship if moving to Canada

I am Canadian, my wife is Taiwanese, and our two kids automatically got Canadian citizenship. We plan to move back to Canada in less than five years, and are wondering at what point we should start to apply for my wife’s permanent resident card in Canada. Should we do this before we return so that she can start working as soon as she gets there, or is it something that we can only apply for once she gets there?
Thanks in advance!

The rules get changed rather a lot. It used to be possible for citizens and permanent residents to sponsor partners (even fiances) while overseas but the rule for permanent residents now is that you must be physically present in Canada to sponsor someone. I strongly suspect the rule is the same for citizens - but you really ought to go to CIC’s website and do as much research as you can.

Also, you might need to know that the permanent resident card and the permanent resident visa are not actually the same thing. The card is just a piece of ID that states that you are the holder of a permanent resident visa - and this card can only be applied for from (and mailed to) an address in Canada. The permanent resident visa is something in your passport that gives the bearer the right to “land” in Canada, after which the permanent resident must meet a residency obligation in order to retain this status.

At the moment, this obligation is to remain in Canada for 24 months out of every 60. It is theoretically possible for your wife to get PR status, land in Canada and leave immediately, not coming back for another 3 years. However, once she arrives after those three years have passed she must remain in Canada for the next 24 months if she still intends to retain her PR status.

Because of this restriction, if you expect to move back nearer the end of your five years, most especially if you expect to travel outside of Canada frequently (including the US) after your arrival, you probably shouldn’t even consider starting the process for your wife’s PR yet - even if it is possible for you to obtain this for her while outside of Canada.

My situation is exactly the same as yours and I am currently in the process of applying for my wife’s permanent residency. If you are a Canadian Citizen, you CAN sponsor your wife from outside Canada (I am currently living in Taiwan with my family). But you will need to demonstrate your intention to move to Canada once the application is approved. So as spaint said, you shouldn’t start the process until approx. a year from the time you plan to move back to Canada.

Also, regarding the kids, do you have their Canadian passports already? And their Canadian Citizenship Certificates? It is true they get citizenship automatically if born outside Canada to a Canadian (by BIRTH) parent, but they still have to get Canadian Citizenship Certificates. You need these to get their Canadian passports. If you don’t have them, these are “supposed” to be applied for before the child is 2 yrs old. If not you have to fill out forms explaining why you didn’t. This ridiculous, meaningless, useless process of obtaining a piece of paper that says your kid is a Canadian takes almost as long as it takes for the permanent resident application for your wife. I won’t type out the whole mess of info on that process, just in case you’ve already done it…but if you need more info I can help.

@SumDumGuy,
We’ve already got the citizenship for baby #1, and will apply for his passport and baby #2’s citizenship after she is born next month.

Thank you both for the info!