Help! My PR has expired!
When an individual achieves Permanent Resident status in Canada, they are issued a Permanent Resident Card that is valid for 5 years. Apparently, those first 5 years can go by quickly because, on quite a regular basis, I receive emails from folks who are panicked to have suddenly realized that their PR card has expired. They are afraid they have somehow lost their status in Canada.
The good news is that your PR card is not the same as your PR status. Just because your card has expired, doesn’t mean that you have lost your status.
Understanding Permanent Resident (PR) Status – Does Permanent Residency Expire?
Once you become a Permanent Resident of Canada, you will remain a Permanent Resident of Canada until someone takes away your status. You will know that this has happened, as it’s a formal process with a number of different steps involved. It ends with a letter formally advising you that you are no longer a Permanent Resident of Canada. Your PR status is not something that just disappears without any warning because you forgot an expiry date.
Can I lose my Permanent Resident Status?
The most common reasons to have your PR status revoked are for committing a crime, or for not spending the required 2 years inside Canada in any 5 year period of time. If you have been quietly minding your own business inside Canada for the past 5 years and simply forgot the expiry date for your PR card, you have nothing to worry about. There is no danger of you losing permanent resident status inside Canada unless you are in trouble with the law.
Permanent Resident (PR) Card
Your PR card is issued to allow you to travel home to Canada from abroad. Because you don’t have a Canadian passport as a Permanent Resident, Canada needs to provide some form of proof that you will be welcomed into Canada upon arrival. Commercial airlines are given significant fines if they allow someone to board an aircraft to Canada when that person doesn’t have the proper documentation. So the PR card serves as your proof to the airline that you can return to Canada. Although a PR card may be a useful form of photo identification for other purposes, its primary purpose is to enable you to return to Canada.
What happens if my PR card expires while I am inside Canada?
If you are inside Canada, you really don’t need a valid PR card. As long as you are inside Canada, you are presumed to have PR status, and it’s not really that important to have a valid card. A valid card is only necessary if you plan to travel outside of Canada and need to return.
How to re-enter Canada with an expired pr card
If you have to travel outside Canada and you don’t have a valid PR card, you have a couple of options. The first is to apply for a PR Travel Document at the nearest Canadian visa office, once you are outside of the country. These applications are normally processed on an expedited basis, and you will be issued a one-time travel document to enable you to return to Canada. The second option is to travel to the United States and then travel by car to the land border with Canada. Because you are a Permanent Resident, you are entitled to enter Canada. The border officers will need to verify your ID and confirm that you still are a Permanent Resident of Canada – do you meet your residency obligations? Once they are satisfied that you are a Permanent Resident, you will be allowed back into the country even without a valid PR card.
Can I work in Canada if my PR card has expired?
Yes, as mentioned above, the PR card itself does not determine your status. If you are inside Canada and your PR card has expired, and no one has taken away your PR status – then you are presumed to be a Canadian Permanent Resident and it is legal for you to work inside Canada.
The Way Immigration is happy to help you understand your status in Canada, and assist you to obtain the necessary documents to prove your immigration status. Arrange an appointment today with one of our Canadian immigration experts, and gain the peace of mind that comes from understanding exactly what’s important for your specific situation.