If you’ve just immigrated to Canada, you’ll need a permanent resident (PR) card. This card is proof that you’re allowed to live and work in Canada permanently.
You’ll need to show your PR card when you travel outside of Canada and return, or to prove your status to schools, employers, and government agencies.
Obtaining a PR card is fairly simple once you’ve gone through the PR application process.
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions first-time PR cardholders have.
What is a PR card?
A Permanent Resident (PR) card is the main document that proves you are a permanent resident of Canada. It is used to show border services officers, citizenship officials, employers, and others that you have permission to live and work in Canada and that you can return to Canada after traveling abroad.
If your PR card expires, you can apply for a new one if you still hold Permanent Resident status.
Permanent residents have many of the same rights and responsibilities as Canadian citizens, but there are some important differences.
For example, permanent residents cannot vote or hold certain public office positions. Like Canadian citizens, they must respect Canada’s laws at all times.
However, there are many benefits to being a permanent resident of Canada. As a permanent resident, you have the right to:
- Live, work, or study anywhere in Canada.
- Apply for Canadian citizenship.
- Protection under Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- In addition, as a permanent resident, you may also be eligible for certain social benefits, such as health care coverage and child tax benefits.
- Permanent residents are also subject to Canadian taxes, including income tax, and must comply with all Canadian laws.
Who can apply for a PR card?
To be eligible for a Canada PR card, you must:
- Be a permanent resident of Canada.
- Be physically present in Canada during the time of your application.
- Not have been convicted of an indictable offense or other serious crime.
- Not be under a removal order.
- Meet all other conditions that are set out in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and its regulations.
Do I need to apply for a PR card?
If you are a new permanent resident, you will automatically be issued a PR card. Present your valid permanent resident visa and your valid passport or travel document to a border services officer when you arrive in Canada.
After your arrival, you should receive your PR card in the mail.
IRCC gives you a time frame of 180 days to provide/update your mailing address. If you don’t send your Canadian address in time, you will need to file an address change form after 180 days and pay a $50 fee.
You will not receive a PR card without a Canadian address on file.
However, If you are already a permanent resident and your PR card has expired or is about to expire, you need to apply for a new one. You should apply for a new PR card if:
- Your PR card has expired and you want to return to Canada after traveling outside the country.
- Your PR card will expire within the next 6 months and you want to travel outside Canada.
- Your PR card has been lost, stolen, or destroyed.
- Your name has changed since you last got your PR card.
- You need to correct the information on your PR card.
If you need to apply for a new PR card, you can do so online or by mail. You will need to provide proof of your identity, residency status, and photo ID when you apply for a PR card.
You will also be asked to pay a processing fee and it usually takes about 136 days to process PR card applications.
Why do I need my PR card?
If you are a permanent resident of Canada and you want to return to Canada by land or sea (including cruises, ferries, trains, and buses), you will need to present your PR card or a Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTD) issued by IRCC.
It is important to note that permanent residents must have a valid PR card or PRTD if they wish to return to Canada after traveling abroad. If your PR card has expired and you are outside of Canada, you will need to apply for a PRTD.
It is your responsibility to make sure that your PR card is up-to-date and that you can present it when needed. If you do not have a valid PR card or PRTD, you may not be able to return to Canada.
How long is my PR card good for?
A Canadian PR card is valid for five years from the date it is issued. After that, you will need to renew your card. You can renew your card by submitting a new application to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
When your PR card expires, it doesn’t mean your status as a permanent resident expires. You can still live, work or study in Canada, as long as you don’t become ineligible for permanent residency. You can keep your old PR card as proof of your status, even after it expires.
However, some PR cards are only valid for one year, such as PR cards issued to certain protected persons and Convention refugees. If your PR card is only valid for one year, it will say so on the card. You can renew your card by submitting a new application to IRCC.
Updating and renewing your PR card
How to renew your PR card if it is expired
If your PR card has expired, you will need to apply for a new one. The process is similar to the original application process and you will need to provide proof of your permanent residency status and other required documents.
Step 1: To apply for a new PR card, the first step is to gather all the required documents. These include:
- Proof of residency – this can be in the form of a valid PR card, a permanent resident visa, or a confirmation letter from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
- A completed application form – you can get this from the IRCC website.
- Two photographs that meet the requirements outlined by the IRCC.
- Copy of the processing fee’s receipt.
- Translation of any documents that are not in English or French, if applicable.
Step 2: The next step is to pay the application fee. The current application fee is $50 for a single applicant and the biometric fee is $85 (if applicable) per person. However, fees must be paid online using a credit card.
Step 3: Once you have all the required documents and have paid the fees, you can submit your application online, by mail, or in person at a Canadian visa office.
Step 4: After you submit your application, you can expect to receive an Acknowledgement of Receipt (AoR) in the mail. This will serve as confirmation that your application has been received and is being processed.
You’ll get your new PR card in the mail or IRCC will contact you to pick it up in person. The processing time for PR card renewals is typically around 136 days, but this may vary depending on your individual case.
When do I need to update my card?
You are required to update your PR card if any of the following information has changed:
- Your name (including changes due to marriage, divorce, or legal name change).
- Your gender
- Your photo (this applies to those who may have taken their initial photo as a child).
If there is a change in any of this information, you will need to apply for a new PR card. You can do this by following the same process as outlined above.
It is essential to keep your PR card up-to-date, as it is proof of your status as a permanent resident in Canada. If you do not have a valid PR card, you may face difficulties traveling outside Canada and trying to re-enter the country.
In some cases, you may even be denied boarding a plane to Canada.
Understand the ins and outs of Canadian permanent residency with Express Entry!
Permanent residency is a great way to acclimate to Canadian life before applying for citizenship, and understanding your rights and responsibilities is an important part of enjoying that transition to the fullest.
Our team is always happy to help and can walk you through every step of the process from start to finish. If you’re feeling motivated after reading this article and are ready to become a permanent resident of Canada, head over to our website and take the first steps today.