Permanent Resident Card &
the minimum residency requirement
Canadian immigration is a much broader topic than only the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. For example, the Permanent Resident Card (PRC) has been with us for over seven years but contains features that are often misunderstood. It is similar in many ways to the old Immigrant Visa and Record of Landing (IMM1000) that landed immigrants received before the Immigration Act changed in 2002, but also different.
The PRC is the official proof of permanent resident status in Canada. All new permanent residents receive this card as part of the immigration process. This wallet-sized plastic card is required for all permanent residents of Canada who seek to re-enter Canada following a trip abroad. If you are a current permanent resident you should be aware that your card expires after five years and must be renewed. People who can apply for a PRC include: those who became permanent residents of Canada before June 28, 2002; people who became permanent residents of Canada after June 28, 2002 but did not receive a PRC; or people who need to replace an expired, lost or stolen PR card. Applicants must demonstrate that they meet certain residency requirements.
What is the basic PRC residency requirement?
The old IMM1000 did not have an expiration date and permanent residents could remain outside the country for 180 days on any one trip abroad without the risk of losing their landed status. This is the old six-month rule that many early members of the local community remember, but it no longer applies. In sharp contrast, the Permanent Resident card is only good for 5 years and requires a “minimum residence of 730 days in Canada within the five-year validity period” (IRPA Section 28.1.2). The change then is from time out of the country to time spent inside Canada. It is good to know that you can now stay outside the country for more than 180 days on any trip abroad but all cardholders must now be aware that the minimum residency requirement must be respected. At the end of the five-year period you must apply to renew your PRC card if you have not already become a Canadian Citizen. Please note that the 730-day minimum residency requirement is not something you can ignore. The requirement for permanent residents is very inflexible and strictly enforced by Canadian immigration officials.
In the past, permanent residents who stayed outside Canada longer than 180 days could apply for a returning resident permit and have a chance to re-enter the country. However, this option was closed with the enactment of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in 2002. Although permanent residents can continue to travel outside the country, they must never forget to meet their basic 730-day residency requirement. There are only a number of limited exceptions to this minimum residency such as, “full time work for a Canadian business abroad or travel with a Canadian citizen who is their spouse or common-law partner or, in the case of a child, their parents” (IRPA, Section 28(2).
If you are in doubt about your situation or require assistance in completing an application for a Permanent Resident Card or a replacement, check the federal immigration web site or contact a licensed immigration consultant or lawyer. Otherwise I take this opportunity, along with my wife Lourdes, to wish you all Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon.
The content of this article is intended for information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. If you want to consult about the PRC or any other immigration matters, contact Michael Scott at 838 Ellice Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Call or fax (204) 783-7326 or (204) 298-8445 or, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. (CSIC #M041391). He can be reached at 838 Ellice Avenue in Winnipeg, Manitoba or by telephone at: (204) 783-7326 or (204) 227-0292.