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My PR Card expired! What do I do?

Kathleen Leighton

For individuals whose Permanent Resident Cards (“PR Cards”) have expired, it can be a time of panic. “Did I lose my status?”, “Do I have to leave the country immediately?”, “Can I still work?” For those used to previously living from one study or work permit to another, it can become second nature to sound the alarm at the sight of an expiration date. Below are the implications of an expired PR Card.

What is a PR Card?

A PR Card provides evidence of your permanent resident status (“PR status”) in Canada, and it is typically valid for five years from the date of issue. A PR Card is also required to return to Canada after a trip if you have PR status and are traveling by commercial vehicle (i.e. plane, boat, train, or bus). If you do not have a valid PR Card for travel, you would have to apply for a Permanent Resident Travel Document (“PRTD”) instead. This could delay your travel.

Losing PR status

Permanent residents of Canada have to be physically present in the Country for at least 730 days during each rolling five year period to maintain their PR status. This 730 days does not need to be continuous. In rare occasions, time spent outside of Canada may count towards the physical presence requirement.

Failing to meet these residency obligations does not automatically result in lost status. Rather, PR status will only be lost through an official action, including when:

  1. You voluntarily renounce your PR Status;
  2. You have a removal order made against you that comes into force; or
  3. There is a final determination of a decision made outside of Canada that you failed to comply with the residency obligation.

Therefore, if your PR Card expired, this also will not on its own mean you lost your PR status in Canada without some other official action.

Impact of an expired PR Card

Given you did not automatically lose status when your PR Card expired, what is the impact? This depends. Chances are, if you have been regularly employed in and residing in Canada on an ongoing basis, you will likely satisfy your residency obligations. That said, here are a few possible scenarios:

  1. You meet your residency obligations and are in Canada when your card expires:
    1. You do not need to leave the country or stop work immediately.
    2. You should apply for a new PR Card right away.
    3. You should avoid travel outside of the Country until you receive a new PR Card, and should seek advice if you do need to travel in the interim.
  2. You meet your residency obligations and are outside of Canada when your card expires:
    1. You cannot apply for a PR Card while outside of Canada.
    2. You would need to return to Canada, generally by first obtaining a PRTD. Once you return, you can apply for your PR Card.
    3. You should seek advice on this process.

It should be noted that, if your PR Card expired, your eligibility for certain government and other services may be impacted.

If you no longer meet your residency obligation, it will be a much more complex issue, as you have to meet eligibility requirements in order to apply for a new PR Card. The best course of action will depend on where you are located and whether you need to return to Canada. One option would be to renounce your PR status. For example, you may want to do this if you are outside of Canada and need to return. By renouncing your PR status, you could then apply for a visa or Electronic Travel Authorization as necessary to travel back to Canada. Alternatively, there may be humanitarian and compassionate factors that can be argued, or other possible options. You should seek legal advice so a solution can be tailored to your particular circumstances.

PR Card best practices

All in all, while an expired PR Card may not be as drastic as many initially think, you should still take proactive steps to ensure you apply to renew your card before the expiration date. This will help ensure the process is as smooth as possible, and help you avoid travel issues. In addition to this recommendation, here are some other best practices:

  1. Apply early to avoid being without a PR Card due to long processing times

Processing times for PR Cards change, and can become lengthy if there is a backlog of applications. You can apply when you have 9 months or less remaining on your PR Card.

  1. Keep track of your travel in detail

In your PR Card application, you will have to detail all travel and periods of residence outside of Canada in the prior five year period. This includes providing dates and location of travel, the reason for the travel, and the number of days you were outside of Canada for each trip. Have records at the ready.

  1. Seek legal advice if you were outside of Canada for 1095 days or more in the five year period that is prior to the date of your PR Card application.

Some of this time may be able to be counted towards your days physically present in Canada.

  1. Consider urgent processing

In some rare scenarios, it may be possible to obtain urgent processing of a PR Card application. Contact us if you need to travel within the next three months and are applying for (or waiting on) a new PR Card.

Our immigration group would be pleased to help you better understand your status, whether you are meeting your residency obligations, and the implications of an expired PR Card as it applies to you.

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