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Canada Green Card a term that is used figuratively to describe permanent residence in Canada.

More correctly, however, a Green Card is uniquely American and is the popular name for a United States Permanent Resident Card. An American green card (which, incidentally, has not been printed on green paper since 1977) gives its bearer permission to live and work in the United States.

Instead of a Canada green card, permanent residents of Canada have the right to a Canada Permanent Resident Card as proof of their Canada immigration status.

Though you may be thinking that the distinction is only a question of semantics, there is a significant difference in the philosophies behind the issuance of a United States Green Card and a Canada Permanent Resident Card. Here’s the distinction: An American green card grants the holder the permission to enter and live in the United States. In contrast, Canada Permanent Resident status grants an individual the right to enter and live in Canada.

In the context of immigration status, having permission and having the right are two very distinct claims. Permission is akin to a privilege and, in the case of a green card, the privilege is granted by the U.S. government, speaking for the American people. A right is something more — it is a legal entitlement. It is inherent to the holder. True, both privileges and rights have limits, and both may be revoked under certain circumstances, but that is not to say that they confer equal status. A simple example demonstrates this point. Permanent residents of the United States must be in possession of their U.S green cards at all times and must be prepared to show them to U.S. authorities upon request. Canada permanent residents have no such obligation. Not only do they not have to carry around their Canada Permanent Resident Card, they are not even required to apply for the card. Though useful to have, a Canada Permanent Resident Card is purely voluntary.

The difference between United States and Canada permanent residence is really about attitudes and conceptions — how residents are viewed by their fellow countrymen and women. More importantly, however, the distinction between having permission and having the right to live in the United States or Canada can shape personal perceptions — how one sees oneself in the mirror — as permanent residents contemplate their place in society. Canada permanent residence is much more than a Canada green card . . . it is a fundamental entitlement.


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