Just because someone living in Canada has a Permanent Resident Card does not mean that he or she gets to stay indefinitely without renewing the card. In order to continue living in Canada, people should know several things about their PR cards and their application statuses. Small mistakes can have big consequences when it comes to a person’s immigration, citizenship, or resident status. It isn’t something that one should take lightly.
Renewing a Permanent Resident Card
Although there is some variety, nearly all Canadian Permanent Resident cards last for five years. If you have a PR card, the expiration date is printed on it.
To be safe, you should apply for a new PR card at least six months before your current one expires. Processing times can vary but renewals usually take around 3 months for straight-forward cases. By applying well in advance hopefully you can avoid being without a valid card for a period of time if for some reason your application is delayed.
In some cases, the Government of Canada can use urgent processing to renew a card. This is useful for people who plan to leave the country and worry that their cards will expire before they return. Know, however, that the government does not guarantee urgent processing. If the office has a considerable backlog of applications, then it may not be able to accommodate the rushed process.
It is also important to know that the government will not send a Permanent Resident Card to any address outside of the country. If your card is lost or stolen outside of Canada, then you will need to apply for a Travel Document in order to return.
The Renewal Process
To renew a Permanent Resident Card, you can complete an online application form. You can also print out an application and send it to the CIC’s office. The CIC returns all incomplete applications.
CIC prefers that applicants pay their fees online, although it is possible to pay at a financial institution as well.
When in doubt, contact a Canadian immigration lawyer for assistance. Officials working at CIC should know how to process applications and fees correctly, but mistakes do happen. This can lead to unfortunate consequences for non-citizen residents who wish to remain in Canada.
By talking to a lawyer about your situation, you can get the details that apply to your case.
Note that there is a requirement to be resident in Canada for at least two years in the five years before applying for a new PR card. If you are not meeting this requirement, an application may be made on humanitarian grounds, or on the basis you were working for a Canadian company outside Canada, or accompanying a Canadian spouse, or in the case of a child, a Canadian parent. If you are not clearly meeting the residency requirement, or are relying on one of the above exemptions to qualify for a card, you should expect a substantially longer processing time.