Two Classes of Permanent Residents
Depending on their nationality, Canadian landed immigrants receive different treatment when it comes to residency requirements.
You would expect the Government of Canada to treat all of its landed immigrants (permanent residents) equally and certainly not to discriminate against some of them based on their country of origin. The facts, however, tell another story, at least when it comes to complying with the residency obligations that are, supposedly, incumbent on all landed immigrants, no matter the country they came from.
Briefly, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) establishes residency requirements for landed immigrants with respect to each five-year period after the granting of permanent residency status. A landed immigrant complies with the residency obligation with respect to a five-year period, by accumulating at least two years of Canadian “residency days”. All permanent residents are expected to have two years of Canadian residency days in each five year period of time. On the surface, everything seems fair. Where the discrepancy occurs is in the treatment of permanent residents, who have not complied with the residency obligation.
Let’s look at the following hypothetical example to illustrate my point.
Suppose Mr. X landed in Canada as a permanent resident six or ten or even twenty years ago. After spending a short time in Canada, Mr. X left our country to pursue an employment opportunity abroad and has never been back. Now, many years later, he wishes to return to Canada and resume his life as a Canadian landed immigrant. Based on what I have stated above, you would say this can’t happen because Mr. X has not accumulated two years of Canadian residency days in each five year period since becoming a permanent resident. Your assessment of the situation would be correct, but only partially. If Mr. X happens to be a citizen of certain countries, such as India, China or a Middle Eastern nation, his days as a Canadian permanent resident are likely over. On the other hand, if Mr. X is a national of other countries, such as the U.S., Australia or a Western European nation, then he might very well be able to return to Canada and eventually resume his status as a Canadian permanent resident.
You are probably wondering how this obvious favoritism can occur. Let me explain how it happens.
An individual who is a citizen of a country requiring a temporary resident visa (TRV) to enter Canada will not be able to board a commercial carrier back to Canada without the TRV or a Travel Document issued by a Canadian visa office unless they are in possession of a valid Canadian permanent resident card. Once the permanent resident card has expired that individual must approach a Canadian visa office (outside Canada) and apply for a Travel Document that will be acceptable to a commercial carrier. In the application for a Travel Document, a determination of Canadian residency status takes place. If Canadian immigration authorities decide that the applicant has not accumulated two years of residency days in the last five years and in the absence of humanitarian and compassionate grounds, the application for a Travel Document will be refused. Permanent residence status has been lost.
Now compare this situation to that of an individual from a country that does not require a temporary resident visa for travel to Canada. The latter individual requires only a valid passport to board a commercial carrier destined to Canada. There is no requirement for a valid permanent resident card or Travel Document from a Canadian visa office to board a Canadian bound commercial carrier. Once in Canada as a visitor, all the individual needs to do is remain here for two years. At that point, the individual will have actually accumulated two years of Canadian residency days in the last five years. IRPA and its Regulations permit the immigration authorities to only examine the preceding five years – nothing further back. And in the last five years the individual resided in Canada for two years. Canadian permanent residency has effectively been restored.
Lucky for some, unlucky for others. It shouldn’t be that way.