When you first become a Canadian permanent resident (PR), you will receive a PR card. The PR card is typically valid for 5 years.
The PR card is one of the documents that proves your Canadian PR status. It is also a travel document. A PR must show a valid PR card in order to enter Canada.
When your PR card is about to expire or has expired, you may be eligible to renew it. You must meet certain requirements.
There is a common misconception that when your PR card expires, you also lose your PR status. It is important to note that your PR status does not expire. You can live in Canada as long as you want without a valid PR card. However, if you travel abroad, you must have a valid PR card or PR travel document (PRTD) to enter Canada.
Renew a PR card
To renew your PR card, you must live in Canada. If you are not in Canada, you need to apply for a PRTD. A PRTD allows you to return to Canada, and then you apply for a new PR card.
If your PR card is about to expire, you can review it within 9 months from its expiration date. You can also review your PR card after it has expired.
Lastly, you must ensure you have lived in Canada for at least 730 days (2 years) during the last 5 years when you submit your renewal application. This is called residency obligation. These 730 days do not need to be continuous.
If you are in Canada, and at the time of application you have not lived in Canada for at least 730 days, you can still accumulate enough days and then review your PR card.
Applying for a PRTD
If your PR card expires while you are outside Canada, then you need to apply for a PRTD. You cannot renew your PR card while being outside Canada
You still need to meet the residency obligation.
Travelling outside Canada with an expiring PR card
If you can return to Canada before your PR card expires, there should not be any issues.
However, if you plan to return to Canada after your PR card expires, you should first attempt to renew your PR card and travel after you get your new PR card. If you are unable to wait for your new PR card, you may still be eligible for a PRTD while you are outside Canada.
Applying for PRTD when residency obligation is an issue
When you apply for a PRTD, the first thing you need to do is to ensure that you have lived in Canada for at least 730 days during the last 5 years.
If you do not meet this obligation, you can check whether any of the following conditions apply to you because you may count certain days spent outside Canada towards the 730 days:
Holding a full-time employment outside Canada with a Canadian business or the public service of Canada or a Canadian province or territory.
Accompanying your Canadian spouse, common law partner, or parent who live outside Canada. You must be under the age of 22 if you are accompanying a parent.
Accompanying your spouse, common law partner, or parent who are a PR, and who hold a full-time employment outside Canada with a Canadian business or the public service of Canada or a Canadian province or territory.
If none of the above conditions apply to you, and you do not meet the residency obligation, you can still apply for a PRTD on Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) grounds.
Applying for PRTD on H&C grounds
As long as you have strong H&C factors, you may still successfully receive a PRTD and return to Canada.
In your PRTD application, you must clearly indicate that you want your application to be considered on H&C grounds and present sufficient evidence.
At the minimum, you should address the following issues regarding your H&C grounds:
How many days have you lived in Canada within the past 5 years?
Why did you leave Canada, and why could you not return to Canada?
Have you attempted to return to Canada, and what were these attempts?
Whether you have intention to maintain your PR status?
Whether you and your family, especially a child, would be affected if you could not return to Canada?
A PRTD application on H&C grounds usually involves more detailed preparation, and the threshold for winning is high. Therefore, it is important that you get professional advice on this matter.
If you receive a refusal decision on your PRTD application, you lose your PR status. However, you can still appeal the decision to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). This is called a residency obligation appeal.
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