IRCC warning about basic residency
by Michael Scott
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is starting to take notice of the large numbers of permanent residents who fail to meet the basic residency requirements of 730 days during the five-year life of their permanent resident cards (PRC). The department has embarked on a public awareness program to let card holders know about this issue. There are permanent residents abroad with expired PRC cards who know or don’t know that they face admission problems when they return to Canada. There are others inside Canada who are applying to have their PRC extended but fail to meet the basic residency because of time they spent outside the country. Residency is a serious matter and, yes, you must ensure that you have resided inside Canada for at least two years in this period or that you have the potential, upon re-entry, to meet the basic residency within the five-year validity period of your card. The requirement is set forth in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), “a permanent resident complies with the residency obligation with respect to a five-year period if, on each of a total of at least 730 days in that five-year period,” – IRPA s. 28 (2)(a). If you do not meet this requirement you may have become inadmissible to Canada.
Many permanent residents are now receiving notifications reminding them, “You must present your valid Permanent Resident Card (PR Card) or permanent resident travel document (PRTD) when boarding a flight to Canada.” Persons who do not have a valid PR card or PRTD can be denied admission to Canada at a port of entry. The federal government is giving permanent resident cardholders additional warning to ensure that they comply with requirements. The warning is especially urgent for those inside Canada with expired PR cards who want to renew their PR cards or for those abroad with an expired PR card the only option for admission is to apply for a permanent resident travel document (PRTD).
For those inside the country, it is important to understand that even though you may have been outside of Canada for a significant part of the five-year life of your PR card, the IRCC will determine residency by dating back from the date you submit your application for PR renewal. In other words, if you do not meet the basic residency, then wait until you have re-established your 730 days of residency before submitting the application. The reference to the law: “if they have been a permanent resident for five years or more, that they have met the residency obligation in respect of the five-year period immediately before the examination;” IRPA s. 28 (2)(a)(ii). Those who fail to demonstrate that they have met the residency requirement could then become subject to an admissibility hearing.
The situation for permanent residents outside the country is not so readily addressed. First they must ensure that upon return to Canada they have the potential to meet the 730-day residency requirement. Or, if the PR card has expired, apply for a PRTD before trying to re-enter the country. The issuance of the PRTD is not straightforward, especially for those who have not been inside Canada for the previous calendar year. If you are denied a PRTD from outside the country because of the failure to meet the basic residency of section 28, you may have to apply to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) in order to return to Canada and attend an admissibility hearing.
The warnings being issued by IRCC should be taken seriously because there are too many permanent residents who confidently travel abroad unaware that their PR card is expiring or that they may have problems getting back into Canada. This does not mean that IRCC or the CBSA authorities do not consider humanitarian and compassionate explanations, but the problem or the challenge itself could have been avoided if the permanent resident had been more attentive to expiration dates. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse before immigration authorities. The government of Canada is going to additional steps to warn all PR cardholders of their responsibility to ensure that they meet the 730-day residency. Permanent residents can be stripped of their landed status if they do not meet the basic residency requirement. If you have questions about your status or that of friends or family, I recommend you contact an immigration lawyer or licensed immigration consultant.
On behalf of Tita Lou, Ate Hazel and myself, Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon.
Michael Scott BA (Hon), MA, is a 30-year veteran of Canada Immigration and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program who works as an immigration associate with R.B. Global Immigration Consultants Ltd. (204) 783-7326 or (204) 227-0292. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.