The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Kim Covert

Playing our cards right: Improving the PR experience

June 26 2018 26 June 2018


In a perfect world, an immigrant gets permanent resident status, receives the appropriate paperwork in a timely manner, and a new life in the new country – travel, school, employment – goes on as normal.

And about 80 per cent of the time in Canada this is the case – applications for new permanent resident cards are processed in about two months, and renewals take about four months. But the other 20 per cent of the time, the CBA’s Immigration Law Section says, all bets are off – lawyers have had cases where it’s taken as much as 12 months to get a PR card, presenting difficulties “ranging from inconvenience to emotional and financial hardship for the applicant, their family members and their employers.”

Without a valid PR card, permanent residents can’t board a flight outside the country to return home, and getting the necessary travel documents from a visa office in the country they’re visiting can be fraught with difficulty. They can’t get a Social Insurance Number without a PR card, and can’t get a job without a SIN, which creates economic hardship. In some provinces, services such as drivers’ licences or medical insurance can’t be obtained without a valid PR card.

In a letter to Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, the Section makes a few recommendations for smoothing out the PR card process:

  • Provide a document at the time of landing that will permit travel immediately, valid for 90 days;
  • Post processing times for travel documents at visa offices abroad so travellers know what to expect and can plan accordingly.
  • Establish a means by which provincial and territorial service providers can quickly confirm permanent residency status rather than denying permanent residents services for lack of a PR card.
  • Consider having the Passport Program process PR card renewals applications, within 10 days for straightforward cases.
  • Address other service issues.

“We urge you to implement changes in processing PR card applications to shorten, and improve predictability of, processing time. Making the efficient delivery of this service an IRCC priority is consistent with the department’s goal of improving the client experience.”

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