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Immigration Corner: My permanent residence card has expired

Published:Monday | November 16, 2015 | 12:00 AM


Dear Ms Powell,

I became a permanent resident of Canada in 2010. I went up and tried without success to get a job and couldn't get one. I returned to Jamaica and got a really good job. I have since got married and had a child. I used to go back to Canada quite often to try to maintain my status. However the last time I visited was in 2014 when I was questioned a lot by the immigration officer. I felt so intimidated and harassed by the whole process that I haven't been back. My permanent residence card is now expired and I would like to return to Canada as I have a job offer and would like to take my family with me. What can I do?

- ED

Dear ED,

There are several issues at stake here and I will outline the steps that you may take to deal with each issue. The first step is to deal with your expired permanent residence (PR) card.

Your PR card is your ticket to leave and re-enter Canada, as long as, it is valid. The PR card is valid for five years. You must satisfy your residency obligation during this five-year period, if you wish to maintain your status as a permanent resident. That does not mean you can't live outside of Canada during the five-year period. It means that you will need to prove that you have been physically present in Canada a minimum of two years or 730 days during the past five years. To prove the time there are several factors to consider, such as whether you were travelling with a Canadian citizen or whether you were employed to a Canadian company while physically outside of Canada.

You will need to ensure that you meet the residency requirement before you apply, as the fee for the application for a travel document is non-refundable and you could expose yourself to an inquiry that you were not prepared for.

If you are able to satisfy your residency obligation, then your next step would be to apply to renew your PR card while you are outside of Canada. You can download the application information online, complete the forms accurately and attach the supporting documents and submit with the requisite fee. This application should be submitted to the nearest Visa Application Centre (VAC).

Once you have received your travel document, you will need to return to Canada immediately and take up that job offer. The travel document is only valid for one entry. Therefore, you will need to remain in Canada, apply for the actual PR card and remain there until the new card is received. In some emergency cases, you may apply for a travel document to permit you to have multiple entries on a travel document. However, you indicated that you have a job offer, so you should accept the job and remain in Canada to be able to substantiate your sponsorship application for your family.

You may apply to sponsor your husband and child under 19 years old, to become permanent residents. To do so, you will need to satisfy the sponsorship requirements as outlined by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). This will include undergoing medical and security checks, as well as making sure that you are able to financially support your family.

This is a two-step application process so it is imperative that you are able to meet the various criteria. For more information you may visit the CIC website, review my past articles on sponsoring a family member, that may be found on my blog and The Gleaner website.

If you are unable to prove the residency requirement you may not be eligible for a travel document and you could lose your PR status. The good thing is that it is not an automatic process. You will not lose your PR status just because your PR card expires and you are outside of Canada when it expires.

You will need to go through the official process and an adjudicator will need to conduct an inquiry, before CIC makes a determination that you are no longer eligible to be a permanent resident. It is therefore critical that you seek legal advice if you are in this situation. You will need to provide several documents and submissions to CIC to justify retaining your permanent resident status. You appear to have some strong points to support your application and so may be able to overcome any breach of residency obligation.

Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public. Send your questions to, subject line- immigration. Find her on Facebook: jamaicanlawyer or Call 613.695.8777/ 876.922.4092