Permanent Residence Cards for Canada

Gaining permanent residency in Canada is a life-altering opportunity. However, those with PR status must be aware of their obligations when travelling abroad. For any individual that had obtained permanent residency before 2002 and does not possess a PR Card, he or she may encounter difficulties being accepted back into the country upon their return.

Niren and Associates‘ immigration lawyers for clients in the Boston area have over a decade’s worth of experience dealing with permanent residence issues and may be able to help you navigate through the process of acquiring this vital document.

A Quick Look at the Permanent Resident Card (PR Cards)

Since 2002, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) requires that Permanent Residents of Canada hold a valid permanent resident card (“PR card”). The PR card is to be used as a valid identity document for persons travelling outside the country and returning to Canada by car, bus, airline or any other means of transportation. Therefore, it is important to have a valid PR card in order to be allowed to enter Canada.

Persons who receive their permanent residence after 2002 will automatically receive their first PR card upon landing in Canada. Other permanent residents who hold Record of Landing documents but who have not yet applied for a PR card will need to make an application to CIC.

Typically, when a permanent resident makes an application for a PR card, it takes a few weeks for the card to arrive in the mail. If you need to travel outside of Canada for an emergency situation, and your card has expired, there are ways to request expedited processing.

Renewing Your PR Card

The PR card is valid for a period of five years, after which it must be renewed. If you know your card will be expiring soon, you must make an application for a PR card renewal which is submitted to CIC. Better known as Residency Obligation, the application requires that you disclose the following information:

• Your travel plans outside of Canada
• Your current address
• Your employment history for the past five years

This information helps the immigration officer review your status.  If the immigration officer is satisfied, you will be asked to attend the local immigration office to pick up your card. You will have 180 days from the notice of the letter to retain your card. This may take a few weeks to process and it is advised that you renew your card well in advance of the expiry date, especially if you expect to travel outside of Canada. CIC recommends that you file an application for renewal two months prior to expiry.

It is no longer required that you submit your old PR card with the application. Instead, CIC now requires that you bring your old card to the local immigration office at the time you are ready to pick up your new card. This allows permanent residence to travel abroad and to return to Canada as long as they have a valid PR card, while their application for renewal is in process in Canada.

Note: If an emergency arises where you must travel abroad after your card’s expiration or is in the process of renewal, there are ways to expedite the procedure.  Our skilled team at Niren and Associates may be able to assist you with a no-obligation assessment.

Contact us today for a consultation with one of our immigration lawyers for the Boston, MA. area.

Reasons for PR Card Refusal

An application for a permanent residence card may be refused for several reasons. One reason is that the permanent resident does not appear to have been in Canada for 730 days in the past five years. However, an immigration officer may also refuse an application on the basis that the applicant did not satisfy the officer’s concerns about the applicant’s identity or supporting documents submitted with the application.

Meeting the PR Card Residency Obligation

If you lived outside of Canada for more than three years in the last five years and do not meet any of the travelling with family or business exceptions, then you may be at a risk of losing your Canadian permanent residence status. Even though you may not meet the requirements, you can still make an application provided that you formally request an exemption under humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Under the immigration regulations, a permanent resident who has not met the minimum physical presence in Canada may ask the immigration officer to consider special circumstances that have prevented the applicant from residing in Canada.

Typically there are compelling reasons why the permanent resident was not able to reside in Canada, which will convince the immigration officer that in fact there exist grounds upon which an exemption for residency obligation may be made. However, the final decision remains with the immigration officer who will review your humanitarian and compassionate arguments and supporting documentation to determine whether an exception can be made.

Being Outside of Canada After Your PR Card Has Expired

This is a very common situation for many permanent residents. If you find that your PR card has expired and you are outside of Canada, you must obtain a Travel Document which will allow you to return back to Canada. At Niren and Associates, we have dealt with many of these kinds of cases and have been able to determine the client’s best recourse in these situations.

The process of obtaining a Travel Document will require the permanent resident to make an application to the Canadian office abroad. If you show that you have resided in Canada for at least two years in the five year period, then the Canadian office abroad will likely issue you the Travel Document and allow you to return to Canada.

However, if you have not met the residency requirements, you may make humanitarian and compassionate arguments as to why you have been outside of Canada for longer than two years. The decision whether to grant you a Travel Document in this scenario will depend on the immigration officer reviewing your file.

PR Card Application Refusal

If your application for permanent residence is refused, you may appeal this decision to the Immigration Appeal Division in Canada. The application to appeal must be made within 60 days of receiving the refusal. Upon receiving the appeal notice, the Immigration Appeal Division will hold a hearing in Canada where they will determine whether the decision to deny your PR card application was correct.

During the hearing, the Immigration Appeal Division is allowed to consider additional humanitarian and compassionate arguments as well as new documentation and submissions in support of the appeal. The appellant will also be required to testify in front of a member of the Immigration Appeal Division.

If you are outside Canada, you can still appeal your application. You also have the option to request that you return to Canada for your appeal. The right to appeal at the hearing in person is not automatic and a request must be made with the Immigration Appeal Division.

If your appeal at the Immigration Appeal Division is unsuccessful, you do have the option of making a further appeal to the Federal Court in Canada. However you should consider that your chances for a successful appeal may increase with the involvement of a skilled immigration attorney.

Seeking Advice from a Professional

Gaining permanent status is often an uphill battle, so it would only make sense that you do everything you can to protect it. Since there may be extenuating circumstances that may limit your ability to freely travel, this should not be a cause for complacency. Our skilled team specializes in immigration issues and is well-versed in all current immigration dilemmas. Let us assist you with your PR card questions.

Contact us today for a consultation with one of our immigration lawyers for the Boston, MA. area.

I have experienced the most professional and most efficient immigration services at Niren Associates. I have used the firm for my work permit previously and was amazed with the results, and this time with a TRV it was no different. I will retain Niren & Associates to help me with my PR card and will recommend them to all my friends and relatives. – Paul L.