Things You Need To Know When Applying For A Canadian Permanent Resident Card (PR Card)

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Once a person is approved for Canadian permanent residency, they get entitled to obtain a permanent resident card (PR Card). The PR card is usually issued and legitimate for five years, but in some cases, it’s only valid for a year.

This card may be used as a legitimate travel document to enter the state borders of Canada. It’s highly advised for permanent residents to get their PR cards because this card enables them to travel outside of Canada and successfully show resident status evidence if required.

Brief History Of The PR Card And Why It Was Created

The PR Card was first introduced in 2002 as an ID card to permit Canadian permanent residents to prove their status outside of Canada appropriately. Before the PR Card was introduced, permanent residents relied on printed immigration papers, called landing documents, to prove their residency.

Landing papers were frequently old, illegible, or damaged, and they were issued in a variety of forms every once in a while. Therefore, the PR Card’s creation regulated the proof of permanent residency in Canada in a portable, pocket-sized format that also acts as a photo ID.

The benefit that the Canadian government obtained from creating PR cards is that the way the IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) department can see if permanent residents meet their residency duty, the time they should spend inside Canada to retain their status.

Every time a person applies for PR card renewal, the IRCC is doing a checkup on whether they meet the necessary obligations. Previously, when the landing papers existed, there were no checkup procedures whatsoever.

The PR Card’s Purpose In And Outside State Borders

The PR card is planned as the primary way a Canadian permanent resident can prove their residency status once they enter Canada. However, it’s also the main required document for residents to prove their status inside and outside the country’s borders, and people, by all means, must carry it with them the whole time.

Why PR Card Is Required Outside Canada

Whenever a permanent resident of Canada wants to travel outside of the state, they must have a PR card to return to Canada in almost all circumstances. The PR card is mandatory on commercial vehicles, such as trains, busses, boats, and planes owned by companies and not privately hired.

Therefore, if you don’t possess a PR card, the vehicle operators aren’t supposed to have you on board. But, if you’re traveling back to Canada by car or another private vehicle, then you don’t need a permanent resident card to return to Canada.

Why The PR Card Is Required Inside Canada

Using a PR card in Canada is the most straightforward way to prove your status. Given that your PR card hasn’t yet expired, it’s a standard document that automatically can identify you as a permanent resident, entitled to all rights and benefits that the card implies.

Demonstrating evidence for resident status in Canada without having a PR card (or having an expired card) can be very challenging. That is simply because not everyone is familiar with all the various types of landing documents that Canada has issued throughout the years.

How To Apply For PR Card

Newcomers who have been previously entitled to permanent residency don’t need to apply for a PR card. Instead, they’ll be mailed one automatically once they immigrate to Canada and establish their Canadian mailing address. Only persons who meet the criteria given below can apply for a permanent resident card in Canada:

  • You still haven’t obtained your PR card during the 180 days of your immigration to Canada;
  • Your PR card has already expired, or it’ll expire under a period of 9 months;
  • Your PR card has been stolen, lost, or somehow destroyed;
  • You lawfully changed your name and must update your PR card accordingly.

All the PR card applications need to be submitted correctly in a hard copy to one of the many IRCC’s specific case processing centers accountable for issuing the PR cards in Canada.

Urgent PR Card Procedure

In some specific cases, the government of Canada can accelerate the process of permanent resident card issuance. For a person to be entitled to urgent PR card processing, they need to travel in the period of next three months due to:

  • A new work opportunity;
  • Work-related traveling;
  • Death of a relative;
  • A severe disease of a relative;
  • You’re seriously ill on your own.

However, note that even if a person is qualified for urgent PR processing, Canada’s government can’t pledge that the application will be processed urgently or that the PR card will be delivered in due time. That’s why it is wise to always hold a legitimate PR card just in case.

Suppose your PR card is approaching the end of its validity period, and you have not yet applied for Canadian citizenship. In that case, you may be interested in applying for a permanent residence card renewal.

Permanent Resident Card Renewal

It’s encouraging for Canadian permanent residents to carry a legitimate PR card at all times. The card enables you to prove your status and allows traveling in and out of the country. As mentioned above, if the permanent resident card is expired or is within its nine months period of expiration, a permanent resident may submit a request to get a new PR card.

To renew a PR card, the applicant must submit all the needed processing documentation in hard copy to one of IRCC’s case processing centers in charge of PR card release. After submission, if the application process is complete and the person has met all the requirements, a new PR card is issued.

It should be mentioned that permanent residency status doesn’t perish once the person’s PR card expires. In Canada, the PR status isn’t automatically lost when a PR card expires. A person may only lose their PR status only if they go through the official procedure voluntarily for that or in one of the following situations:

  • You have officially become a Canadian citizen;
  • An officer decides you’re not any more permanent resident after a permanent resident travel document (PRTD) appeal or inquiry (including PR card renewal);
  • A withdrawal order was made against you and must come into effect;

Even though a person doesn’t fulfill the permanent residency duty, their PR status shall remain in force till a formal decision is taken against their status.

Final Thoughts

Regarding the things one needs to know before applying for a PR card in Canada, we can conclude that the permanent resident card is the most common status document for all permanent residents in Canada.

Therefore, if you are a newcomer in Canada, you must acknowledge that although the PR card was designed as a travel document for every permanent resident who is returning to Canada, at the same time, it’s the best way permanent residents can prove status within Canada’s borders too.

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Samantha Acuna is a writer based in San Francisco, CA. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post,, and Yahoo Small Business.