With the presence of Covid-19, permanent resident card holders outside of Canada have encountered barriers to the renewal of their permanent resident card.  These barriers may be in the form of the inability to book a timely flight back to Canada, or the expiration of their permanent resident card while outside because of Covid-19.

Bear in mind that a permanent resident card application can be made outside of Canada.   If the permanent resident card application is successful then the person must pick up the card in person at an immigration office inside of Canada as per section 55 of the Immigration Refugee Protection Regulations.  The only exception to this is if the immigration authorities decide to mail the permanent resident card to your Canadian address.

Returning to Canada Later Than Expected

Some permanent resident card holders intended to return to Canada around February 2020 but were stopped by Covid-19.  These persons often were close to the maximum allowable amount of days outside of Canada (namely three years of days within a five year period).  The resulting inability to travel because of Covid-19 caused the card holder to spend more time outside of Canada than expected.  This often means that the amount of time allowed outside of Canada has been exceeded. If the time outside of Canada was more than three years, then one option is to file for a permanent resident travel document

Permanent Resident Travel Document (“PRTD”)

The theoretical solution to being outside too long is one that must be exercised with caution.  A visa officer outside of Canada typically receives and decides upon the PRTD.  Such officers are often not allotted much time to look at those applications and dismiss them summarily.

Similarly, some persons who apply for a PRTD don’t file enough evidence on matters such as proof of entries or exits into Canada, the reason for being outside of Canada for a temporary purpose, or Humanitarian & Compassionate factors that forced a person to be outside of Canada for more than three years within the relevant five years assessed by the visa officer.  Similarly, some persons seeking a PRTD neglect to prove that they have been accompanying a Canadian citizen spouse while outside of Canada, or fail to provide evidence of working on a short term basis full time for a Canadian employer while outside of Canada.

It is important to note that the refusal of a PRTD results in the loss of permanent resident status unless one files an appeal at the Immigration Refugee Board (Appeal Division) within 60 days of the rejected PRTD.  A side effect of Covid-19 is that PRTD applications are being processed more slowly by visa officers which force a person to remain outside of Canada longer than anticipated.

Given the possible outcome of the loss of permanent resident status, it would no doubt be beneficial to obtain professional advice about a PRTD and whether or not to initiate a PRTD.

Next Step: Permanent Resident Card Renewal or PRTD

Seeking out options to maintain your permanent resident card?  Or alternatively, seeking out whether or not to apply for a PRTD?  Contact us.

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