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Residency Definitions

June 16th, 2014 by Dr Ian Walker

On May 28th, the Admissions Committee of the Faculty of Medicine made the decision to modify the current definition of “Albertan” for the purposes of applying to the Faculty of Medicine’s MD program.

These changes were motivated by a desire to simplify the multiple different definitions that have previously been in place, while also reflecting a more defensible definition of what constitutes an “Albertan”.

The Committee was guided by a number of specific principles:

  • That applicants who have recently moved to Alberta with an expectation of gaining residency based on previous definitions should not be rendered ineligible.
  • That after the age of 18, applicants are independent adults, and residency should be established based on where they live, not where their parents live.
  • That applicants should be considered “Albertans” by virtue of living within the province on a day to day basis, not on the basis of simply having a postal address in Alberta.

Accordingly, the following staged changes were approved.

For the 2014-2015 cycle:

“Applicants will be considered Albertans if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have been physically present in Alberta on a day to day basis for 24 consecutive months at some point after their 15th birthday.
  • Have been physically present in Alberta on a day to day basis for 12 months prior to the first day of classes for the year in which they are applying.
  • Have been on active duty with the Canadian Armed Forces or the RCMP for the 12 months prior to July 31st, 2015.”

For the 2015-16 cycle:

“Applicants will be considered Albertans if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have been physically present in Alberta on a day to day basis for 24 consecutive months at some point between their 15th birthday and the first day of classes for the year in which they are applying.
  • Have been on active duty with the Canadian Armed Forces or the RCMP for the 24 consecutive months leading up to the first day of classes for the year in which they are applying.”

In both cases, the following caveat applies: “The residency requirement shall not be considered broken when the Committee is satisfied that the applicant has been temporarily out of the province for vacation, educational exchange or employment.”

Applicants should note the following conclusions that should be drawn from these changes.

  • The new “rule of thumb” standard for determining Alberta residency is two years in Alberta after you turn 15.”
  • Applicants may be required to provide proof that they were physically present in the province during the time in question. This may consist of a wide variety of documentation, but no single piece of documentation is guaranteed to act as sufficient proof of residence.
  • Residency is based on where the applicant lives, not where their parents live.
  • The term “temporarily out of the province” is intentionally vague, and is intended to provide the Committee the opportunity to consider the entire context of an applicant’s residency history when determining whether they qualify as an Albertan.
  • If you are unsure if you qualify as an Albertan, you should contact the Office of Admissions early to ask for a determination as to whether or not you qualify.

Examples

Albertan Non-Albertan
Completes 2 full years of HS in Alberta after 15th birthday. Completes Sr year of HS in Alberta, then attends University outside Alberta.
Two or more years of active duty in the Canadian Armed Forces Two or more years as a reservist or contract employee of the CAF
From another province.   Attends university in Alberta, while staying during the summers for study or employment. From another province.   Attends university in Alberta, and returns to another province during the summer for study or employment.
Moves with family to Alberta and resides here for two years after 15th birthday. Parents move to Alberta after applicant finishes HS, while applicant continues to attend university elsewhere. Comes home to parents’ house during vacations / summers.
Resides in Alberta while working for an Alberta employer who requires applicant to travel outside Alberta for work. Keeps a home in Alberta while employed for substantial periods of time in another province or country, requiring relocation to that province / country.
Lives in Alberta and attends university full time for two years, except for a one semester student exchange. Does not otherwise qualify as an Albertan, but spends summers in Alberta, while attending University elsewhere.
Physically resides in Alberta for two years while completing distance education at a University outside Alberta (eg. Thompson Rivers University) Physically resides outside Alberta while enrolled in distance education through a University physically located in Alberta (eg. Athabasca University)

Please note that attempts by applicants to misrepresent their residency status will be treated as an “Area of Concern” / “Red Flag” during the current and all subsequent application cycles.

Tags: 51 Comments

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51 responses so far ↓

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    I am applying to a graduate program at University of Calgary and I currently reside in Ontario. I would like to know if I visit my family every 3-4 months for about 2 weeks for instance, while completing my graduate degree in Alberta, can I still be eligible to be called an “in-province resident” after finishing my degree? Thank you for your help.

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    I’ve been living in Alberta for 4 years since my 15th birthday but I’ll be attending a university in Ontario for my undergrad this upcoming year. I would really like to return home and complete medical school in Alberta. Will I have to return home for the summers to keep my Alberta residency?

    Thank you

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    I grew up in Calgary, and a couple weeks before I turned 17 I moved to BC. I was wondering if I would still qualify as an Albertan resident in this case?

    Thanks for your time.

    • Technically, no. The rule states 24 consecutive months after your 15th birthday. You could always send a letter to the committee asking for permission to apply as an Albertan, but they tend to me pretty firm on the definition. Recognizing that this is a very small difference, we have to draw a line in the sand somewhere, and wherever we draw it, someone gets left out

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    I’m starting my graduate degree at UofC in September 2017, and I am moving to Alberta to set up my residence end of June/beg of July. I’m also taking a vacation of about 3-4 weeks during the middle/end of July to go see relatives back in Europe. Since I would consider applying to medical school after I finish my degree in Spring of 2019, would I still be considered a resident even if I take a vacation during that time? Please let me know.

    Thank you!

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    Are you considered an Albertan resident if you were born and raised in Alberta for 24 years, did your Undergrad Degree at the University of Alberta, but then did your masters at UBC (3 years) as an out of province student (still under the Alberta care card) and are now working as a temporary contractor there due to the depressed engineering job market? Would such an example satisfy the caveat requirement?

    According to UBC I am not a member of their province because I was an out of province student with a valid Albertan care card. But recently I found out I may not be an Albertan either (even though it is so integral to my identity!). Thanks for the help! I am worried that I now belong to no provinces at all!

    • I think if you look at our Albertan definitions you will see that yes, you are considered an Albertan. I cannot comment conclusively with out reviewing your entire chronology, but it should not be hard to figure out based on what is in our applicant manual.

  • Are you considered Alberta resident if you’re enrolled in a 2 year full-time college program at SAIT? … there are no extended periods of break as it runs pretty much all year.

    • You are an Alberta resident if you meet the criteria laid out in the calendar / Application Manual. If you are uncertain about your particular situation, then you should contact the office directly.

  • Will a resident of Northwest Territories be treated as Albertan for admission (Edmonton identifies NT resident as equivalent to Alberta)?

  • Hello Dr.Walker,

    I am currently in my 2nd year at University of Alberta, but originally from BC. It states that in order to qualify as an Alberta resident I would have to stay during the summers and winters in Alberta and study fulltime. How many summers and winters would that be? Would I be able to visit family and friends from BC during that time?

    Thank you,

    Jun

    • You don’t have to necessarily study in Alberta, but you need to be a resident of the province for 24 consecutive months. The bottom line is that coming here to go to school, if you go home in the summers, does not make you an Albertan. If you stay here and work, live, etc… for two years, then we do consider you an Albertan. Like all Albertan’s, you are entitled to travel and visit, but if your visit is two months long, the committee may see that as being non-resident. Going home for a week when you have a job here wouldn’t be a problem.

  • Hello Dr. Walker,

    Could you please clarify something for me? Would I still be considered as having Albertan residency if I have lived in Alberta for 24 months (completed two years of high school), after my 15th birthday, but attends university in another province?

    Thank you,
    Audrey

  • Hello Dr. Walker,

    Would you still fulfill Albertan residency if you travel outside the province for two weeks during Winter break but return in January?

    Additionally, what kind of documentation is typically necessary (e.g. graduate student records) to prove that you have remained in Alberta for 24 consecutive months?

    Thanks for your time!

    Andrew

    • Probably. You need to be able to provide enough material to satisfy the committee. If things look fishy, we will ask for more documentation. To be sure, things like tenancy agreements and drivers licenses, alone, do not prove residency if there is significant concern elsewhere that you have not been physically present. At the end of the day, we have resorted to asking for credit card statements and cell phone records.

  • Hello Dr. Walker,

    My daughter who is Canadian citizen is studying in US but is planning to move to Canada after finishing her High School to study medicine. Which 3 provinces (best to worse) do you think she should start her post secondary education so that she is considered a resident of that province and her odds for selections maximizes.

    An early response will be highly appreciated.

    Thanks

    Lalit Mahajan

    • I don’t think there is a quick answer to that question. I don’t know the rules for other schools, so you would need to investigate each school separately to decide. For the University of Calgary, she would need to be physically present for 24 consecutive months at some point prior to applying (and since her 15th birthday) in order to be considered an Albertan.

      • Thanks for the response. But does this mean she can not leave Alberta for 2 years, even if the university/college is close for vacation or can she come and visit us in US during the vacation (if she go to Alberta for post secondary studies) and applies for medicine later.

        • She can visit, absolutely, but she has to be residing here, in the common use of the term. In other words, if push comes to shove, we will want to see telephone and credit card records showing that she was here on a day to day basis.

  • Hello Dr. Walker.

    I am in a similar situation as Rima. By today’s standard, I am OOP. I am going into 3rd year in September 2014. Had I known about the change in residency prior to the end of second year, I would have stayed in Calgary or moved back prior to August 1. I looked for suitable research opportunities in Calgary back in January – (went for interviews) however, nothing panned out. As I have to pay for my education somehow, I went back to my previous employer as I made a commitment to them at the end of April that I would be there for the summer.

    This change saddens me as I chose U of C for its highly reputable Health Sciences degree program. This was going to be my foundation with the hopes of one day attending Med School at the University. By the new rules, I am ineligible to apply as an Albertan for the 2015 and 2016 intake, unless I apply as a non Albertan with a only 15 % chance of admission.

    I just wanted to share this with you.

    Thank you.

    • Thanks. We certainly recognize that there are people who are disadvantaged by the change in policy. That said, lots of out of province people get accepted. The percentage is a fair bit higher than for in-province, in fact, since the eligibility criteria are so strenuous.

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    Can you comment on the change in useable courses for the 2015/16 cycle? If you took a degree at a non-MD institution, most 3rd year classes will not be transferrable course-to-specific course.

    Thanks you

    • Stay tuned. Please also keep in mind that it is not our intent to simply disenfranchise a whole portion of our applicant pool. Doing so would no more benefit us than it would them.

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    Can you please clarify if in my case I would be still considered IP as I reside in Alberta for two years while attending Sept-April full-time studies at a University outside Alberta? I spend my summers in Alberta and work there out of the school year.

  • Hello Dr. Walker,

    Most leases (if not all) begin at the first of the month. With that said, I have a room secured for August 1st and there is no possibility of moving in sooner. Would I still meet the IP criteria if I can prove that I have stayed in the province since August 1st? Should I stay in a hotel for a couple of days at the end of July to assure that I qualify? I unfortunately have no family or friends there to stay by, and moving for July is too sudden for me. However, I do not want to jeopardize my future IP status.

    Thank you!

    • Not speaking for Dr Ian Walker, but as a hopeful applicant that moved nearly 5500 km to be here at the specified date (with no family or connections here either), I would hope that being in Alberta by 365 days before the beginning of the next school year is a hard and fast rule. I don’t think it’s fair for others who obliged to this very specific criteria. If it’s a few days, it might as well be a week, or two. There’s gotta be a fine line drawn here.

    • If it helps…the applicant manual from last year says 12 months before the start of classes and specifically indicates the dates August 1st 2013 to August 1 2014. I think the actual classes began a few days before that and begin the last week of July this year (based on friend’s starting) so I think that is evidence enough to show you would be fine living here starting August 1st since it looks like that has been acceptable in the past.

    • We have historically accepted July 31st / Aug 1st as a reasonable surrogate for “the first day of classes”.

  • Just a quick note to say that I misspoke in my original post and have corrected it. The error concerned those applicants on active duty with CF or the RCMP. Those individuals will be considered Albertan if they have been on active duty leading up to the first day or classes, not simply “at some point after their 15th birthday.”

  • Thanks Dr. Walker for the clear and concise explanation. Am I right in thinking that a student who is originally from another province, but goes to yet another province (not their parents’ home province) during the summers for research or other educational experience would still be considered IP?

    • That is a tough one. The argument would need to be made that you had really moved here, and that you were not just an itinerant student. We would need to know alot more detail. Would be a committee decision.

  • Dr. Walker,

    Could you please elaborate on the documents that could be provided to prove that one was physically in the province? Do a driver’s license and lease suffice? Personally, I signed a lease for September, but plan to stay at relatives for July and August. If I plan to be unemployed until September, how would I prove that I was in the province for July and August?

    Thank you for your time.

    • There is no one piece of documentation, but anything you have that supports the notion that you were here on a day to day basis can be contributory.
      Here are some ideas.
      Drivers license
      car registration
      AH&W card
      Credit card statements
      gym memberships
      movie receipts
      speeding tickets
      ER visit records
      bus passes
      gas receipts
      parking tickets
      banking ATM records
      periodically popping into the office and having your picture taken with the staff….
      I think you get the idea. In the digital world we live in, it should not be difficult.

  • Hello Dr. Walker,

    I am from another province and am attending a university in Alberta full time (going onto 3rd year this September).

    I have been consecutively staying in Alberta since August 2013 until the end of June this year except for 2 weeks in winter and 1 week for reading break; I’m visiting my family in another province during July and then return to Alberta early August for another school year. Would that one month visit (I won’t be working or taking any courses during the month) in another province break the “consecutive 12 months” period? I am applying for 2014-15 cycle.

    Thank you!

    • We would need to see more details and documentation. If you are in doubt, you should contact Adele (meyers@ucalgary.ca) for clarification. I can’t commit on this forum.

  • hey I was just wondering, how will we prove we lived in Alberta during July/August? I am attending school in September but will be moving there July 1st. I already have my apartment and everything figured out. Will this information be asked for while applying prior to interview or after? Thanks!

    • Lots of ways. VISA statements are pretty conclusive when they show grocery purchases on a regular basis. Same with bank records showing aTM withdrawls. Things like drivers licenses, AH&W registration, utility bills. We would accept just about anything that shows you were here day to day. Heck, you could even submit speeding and parking tickets if you want. As I said in the original post, it is about the weight of evidence, not a single piece of documentation. In our current digital world, it should not be hard to prove.

  • As someone who moved here last summer for the last cycle (rejected pre-interview), and truly fell in love with Alberta and plan on laying my roots down here.. I can’t help but feel excited that these changes are occurring. I work in Alberta, I vacation in Alberta (Rockies, anyone?!), pay taxes in Alberta, and very much have enjoyed living here so far.

    I’ve very thankful that U of C is not rendering those who moved last year as ineligible to apply as IP, as I would have been one of the unlucky applicants with no IP status in any province in Canada.

    • Glad you appreciate the desire to be fair. Having said that, fairness is all about one’s perspective, and although we strive to be balanced in what we do, there will always be people who feel that this change was unfair to them.

  • I think this is a step in the right direction and I very much agree with the guidelines Dr. Walker and the faculty of medicine has put forth. Far too many people are moving to Alberta for the sole purpose of easily gaining residency to apply to Albertan medical schools with the perception that it is much easier.This new guideline helps to ensure that in province applicants truly call Aberta home.

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    Thank you for your response.

    The thing is that this policy changed in the middle of my undergrad so I cannot go back and spend the first two summers I spent in Ontario in Calgary instead. Unfortunately, I had to go back home for the summers not because I don’t want to “lay my roots in Calgary”, but due to family circumstances. I just think it is unfair for the admission committee to ” pull the rug out from under” students like me who genuinely had the desire of pursuing medicine in Calgary and met the previous criteria of residency, but now no longer do.

    What I am wondering is whether I can fulfill the new criteria by spending the rest of my undergrad summers in Calgary ( despite not spending my first two summers here) because you mentioned “unless you choose to spend your summers here as well”. Like I said earlier, unfortunately I was not able to spend my first two summers in Calgary and I hope that doesn’t discount me from fulfilling the new criteria.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read my concerns.

    Rima

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    Thank you for your response.

    The thing is that this policy changed in the middle of my undergrad so I cannot go back and spend the first two summers I spent in Ontario in Calgary instead. Unfortunately, I had to go back home for the summers not because I don’t want to “lay my roots in Calgary”, but due to family circumstances. I just think it is unfair for the admission committee to ” pull the rug out from under” students like me who genuinely had the desire of pursuing medicine in Calgary and met the previous criteria of residency, but now no longer do.

    What I am wondering is whether I can fulfill the new criteria by spending the rest of my undergrad summers in Calgary ( despite not spending my first two summers here) because you mentioned “unless you choose to spend your summers here as well”. Like I said earlier, unfortunately I was not able to spend my first two summers in Calgary and I hope that doesn’t discount me from fulfilling the new criteria.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read my concerns.

    Rina

    • Hi Rina. So, the thing is the committee very consciously decided to phase in the 24 month (as opposed to 12 month) requirement, so that for the coming cylce, being physically located here for 12 months prior to the first day of classes (July 27th, 2015 +/-) makes you eligible. So, yes, if you spend August here, you will be considered inprovince this coming cycle.

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    I recently graduated from McGill, and I will move to Calgary and be an independent student to some med school prerequisite courses in U of C. I am just wondering when is the first day of med school in 2015?

    • It is always in the last few days of July. We don’t inforce a “letter of the law” approach on this. If you are firmly located here by July 31st, that is sufficient.

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    I am a student who moved to Calgary to pursue my undergrad at the U of C two years ago ( I am going into my third year). When I moved to Calgary I was hoping to fulfill this requirement in your residency criteria, ” attended a university in Alberta as full- time student for two full years”. Having just finished my second full-time school year I would have been considered a resident by the previous criteria, but since I decided to go back to my home province (Ontario) for the summers due to family reasons I am no longer considered a resident by the new criteria.

    In your post you mentioned, “that applicants who have recently moved to Alberta with an expectation of gaining residency based on previous definitions should not be rendered ineligible.”

    Unfortunately, I seem to be rendered ineligible and I wholeheartedly had the expectation of gaining residency based on the previous definitions when I moved to Calgary from Ontario (in fact that was a major motivation to come to the U of C).

    Sorry for rambling, but my main question is; am I still considered an Albertan resident?

    Thanks,

    Rima

    • I have made this observation before, but the unfortunate reality is that whenever we make a change we advantage some people and disadvantage others. When the committee met to discuss this issue, the overwhelming feeling was that this should be about where one calls home and lays down roots (not to mention where one pays taxes). The feeling was that simply attending school in Alberta does not really make one a resident, as one has not meaningfully moved here. By that standard, no, you probably would not be an Alberta resident unless you chose to spend your summers here as well.
      My comment that “applicants who have recently moved to Alberta with an expectation of gaining residency based on previous definitions should not be rendered ineligible” was really about people who have actually moved to the province. In cases such as yours, the committee does not feel that the applicants have meaningfully moved to Alberta. You yourself make reference to returning home in the summers. That in itself should be a giveaway as to where your actual residence lies.
      While I appreciate that this change will negatively affect some people, we think it is a defensible and well reasoned change.