Two Classes of Permanent Residents

November 30th, 2009

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.

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20 Responses to “Two Classes of Permanent Residents”

  • On November 30th, 2009, Anonymous said ...

    You have higlighted a flaw with the system. However what you have failed to do is to proffer a solution. I know you are vast in immigration law. It would only be fair if you make a corrective suggestion to this system.

  • On December 1st, 2009, Anonymous said ...

    A comment about solutions corresponds to be made by immigration authorities, who are in duty of it.

  • On December 1st, 2009, Anonymous said ...

    Discrimination in distiguishing between background exists since some need a visa to enter Canada and others not. So, nothing would be against the Charter of rights here. Nevertheless, when the bar coded passport is scanned by CBSA officer, it is noted the date of entry; thus, Immigration officer reviewing the application to renew PR has full access to all dates and to compare what's submitted, and based on it, they are refusing a fair # of crooked applicants.

  • On December 1st, 2009, Anonymous said ...

    By Israr Gilani
    You have highlighted and pin pointed a problem currently me and my family is facing. we are a family of six individuals (two spouoses and four children) one of my 12 years of age child is Canadian by birth, all other five are Citizen of Pakistan. In January 1995 we became landed immigrants in Canada, on 11th January 1997 my yougest son was born in Markham, Ontario. All were enrolled in Canadian educational institutions. In December 2005 we had to travel abroad to attend an emergency ocurred due to sudden death of my father while our Permanent Resident Cards were submitted for renewal. According to the CIC guidelines in June 2006 we applied to the Canadian Embassy abroad for travel documents that was refused by the visa officer. The visa officer approach was clearly discreminatory and based on illogical facts. I 100% agree with the content of your article as some rules are discreminatory and some funtionaries are also having discreminatory mentalities that needs to be addressed by the authorities. However, my application is curently with the Federal Court of Canada for final decision but we have suffered a lot due to above stated situation.

  • On December 1st, 2009, Ziad Haddad said ...

    Residency is not about staying in there. It is all about having a job and the degree of contribution to the community. I think there are other priorities and more important issues to the Canadian Government than thinking about evaluating the immigration system fairness in as far as this specific area is concerned.
    Staying in Canada as a visitor for two years to afterwards claiming the supposedly "lost" permanent residency on the basis of being in there is not favorable as no contribution by the immigrant "visitor" was done to the community and no benefit was taken by that visitor from being in there. I can not see the benefit of an Australian or Western European staying in Canada as a visitor for two years with out a job, unless he is authorized to work in the first place then the whole argument would have been solved.
    The question that we should ask, if there was any diversity, discrimination or different treatment by the Canadian System "after" obtaining the permanent residency on the basis of the country of origin?, I doubt it.
    Selecting who to land, enter, or be given a TRV is a Nation and Government right; it goes for Canadians, Middle Externs, European, North Korean and Chinese alike. These are the international rules. They have nothing to do with discrimination. Each country is measured through the efforts of its people to have a clean sheet of healthy history and each person is responsible for his background to have it internationally accepted to obtain a TRV anywhere. No one can enforce otherwise.

  • On December 1st, 2009, Ziad Haddad said ...

    Just to Clarify and to clear a point; my comments were prepared and sent before the posting of Mr. Israr Gilani case which abviousely I had not seen while preparing my comments. Therefore my comments were not as a reaction to the respected Gilani rather, general comments

  • On December 1st, 2009, anoop singh said ...

    I have been trying to immigrate to Canada for the past 5 years. There seems little or no hope.My documentation has been accepted by the Canadian Embassy, New Delhi and I have never ever got a feedback about this inordinate delay from the authorities.I feel this is highly prejudicial and discriminatory. Why did the authorities accept my documentation in the first place? Now why this delay? In the long run aspiring, qualified and highly skilled immigrants like me will loose interest and fade out from the endless immigration queue.

  • On December 1st, 2009, Anonymous said ...

    Colonialism is both good and bad. However, the fact remains that Canada, and many countries in the world, were at one time part of British Empire. As Such, the Crown was responsible for much of what Canada has become. This is a National cultural debt, and as such Canada expresses that gratitude by being a little more friendly towards the UK. By extension, Canada must therefore be amenable towards those countries (Westerners) that are considered to be traditional allies of the Crown. Having said that, I admit this observation fails when it comes to India and especially Pakistan, who seems to have attempted a bloodless coup of London by virtue of the flood of immigrants to the U.K.

  • On December 7th, 2009, Anonymous said ...

    I wonder how can colonialism is considered to be good and bad at same time, as its net products are usually supression, racism, plundering etc. If it is still prevailing in 21st century, then what about those who are claiming to be the champions of human rights, freedom, equality and democracy especially in the enlightened and civilized world. It seems that hypocracy is prevailing.

  • On December 17th, 2009, Anonymous said ...

    I have just watch the speech you present the senate and just want to say god bless you….R.Bell

  • On January 11th, 2010, Anonymous said ...

    …. Quote ***
    Once in Canada as a visitor, all the individual needs to do is remain here for two years.

    If individual (who is PR but entered as "visitor") can stay up to 2 years ? I thought that Offcier stamp the passport with expiry date (maximum 6 months from date of entry) of his/her "visitor" stay…

    After that they will look for him if he/she is not exit..?

    Is my understanding correct ?

  • On June 23rd, 2010, Anonymous said ...

    I haven’t been around many places of the world, but I could say with a reasonably fair extent of accuracy that there’s no place in this world which is free from discrimination, bias or favoritism. Well, they are in different proportions in different countries, but the fact is that no community is free from these bad virtues. Basically it’s in human nature to like and dislike and this issue has its roots in this very nature of man. Some times such a situation occurs socially, some times politically and some times it even gets into the laws and codes.

  • On July 14th, 2010, Benguron said ...

    I assume that those individuals who have the ability to enter Canada without a valid PR card would need to have a physical SIN card. Since one would need to physically show this card to be hired for any job and not just provide the number.

  • On September 12th, 2010, neel said ...

    this is not correct first the individual from visa exempt country will be entering canada and getting a 6 months visitor visa stamped so they cannot stay 2 years on that stamp well they could but then would have to fight deportation order in court and who knows what the outcome will be and this is assuming that they can stay 2 years without work which they may be able to since say 10k everyyear may be required for a single person annually the other problem is because that person was once a landed immigrant they may actually not be able to get even the visitor visa stamped at entry since their non immigrant visitor visa contradicts their original immigrant intent so while they may be able to board a flight they may be denied the visitor visa stamp at port of entry

  • On September 12th, 2010, neel said ...

    it has been rightly pointed out that a lot of people want canadian or a western country passport so they may travel freely but may not actually want to live there by compulsion in this respect though canada unlike usa is much more flexible becasue in usa once a person has a green card they cannot stay out of usa for more than 6 months a year until they become citizens in 5 years times and if they stay out of usa for more than 6 month they will need a rentry permit even with a green card and the 5 year clock to citizenship will be reset

  • On April 20th, 2011, Anonymous said ...

    All I have to say is I have been dealt an unfair hand. I aman American citizen by birth and it has taken more than 2 years just to get a P.R. Card; they have given me the run around for no reason at all. I even turned 18 in Canada. This is unfair and quite frankly I am tired of them making me waste my money in a desparate attempt to discourage me from staying here with my husband. I have been more than generous in my compliance and now they just pulled the rug from under my feet for another $400.00

    Honestly this is disgraceful, I have been waiting on a false dream since Dec. of 2010 and was on a waiting list for 12 months before that. For what? An imaginary line with that the govt has assumed has bottomless lined pockets?

  • On March 31st, 2012, Anonymous said ...

    I am a US citizen with Canadian PR since 1988. I have been out of Canada for about 22 years. I understand I still have PR status eventhough I have been out of Canada for so long. My question is, can I return to Canada and live there for 2 years, then have PR reinstated after accumulatikng 2 years in Canada. Can I also work during this 2 years?
    According to David Cohen’s article “Two Classes of Permanent Residents” on this website, this is a method to “effectively restore” PR status.
    Please respond.

  • On April 24th, 2013, Anonymous said ...

    This article is not correct.
    Your status as a PR is stored in the system and the officer at the port of entry would know this at once when the officer scans your passport. The officer would then ask for your PR card. If you cannot present a valid PR card, you cannot enter into Canada. You need to get back and apply for a Travel Document, no matter your passport requires a visa to enter into Canada or not.

  • On January 5th, 2014, Anonymous said ...

    I am facing the same situation with my mother’s PR card renewal, although she is currently in Canada and has met the residency requirement. However, her PR card renewal application has been delayed without any clear reasons. There is delaying tactics and no clear communication from the CIC except for a saga of requests for more proof of residency – OHIP records, etc. If passport stamps of entry-exit is not sufficient for them to determine who is in the country, and for how long, then CIC has a greater problem in their hands. after reading this article, I agree with the author, this may be just plain discrimination! So much for a promise of equality in a democratic environment for gullible immigrants paying high Canadian taxes.

  • On February 24th, 2016, welcome-canada said ...

    Recognition of this type is an honor shared by thousands
    of govt and professional ladies all through America annually.

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