Having a certain immigration status in Canada comes with a corresponding document. These documents are used for severe; purposes but mostly for identification.
Canadian citizens have their Canadian passports.
Naturalized citizens have both Canadian passports and naturalization certificates to prove their citizenship.
Temporary foreign workers have work permits and students their study permits.
When it comes to a permanent resident in Canada, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) provides him or her a permanent resident card (PR Card).
Known also as a “Maple Leaf Card”, the permanent resident card has been a means for permanent residents to prove their permanent resident status and residence in Canada. It is valid for five years from the date of its issue.
The PR card has been around for a while, having being proposed in 2001. IRCC proposed the creation and distribution of the cards as part of security measures in light of the 9/11 attacks. The first batch of permanent resident cards was distributed one year thereafter.
Since 2002, the permanent card has undergone numerous changes in its appearance and design. Nonetheless, it has continued to serve its intended purpose- prove permanent resident status.
What Are The Uses of A Permanent Resident Card (PR Card)?
As mentioned earlier, a permanent resident card’s most obvious use is identification. It is an identification document. Be that as it may, its intended purpose makes it a suitable document for other purposes and situations.
As A Travel Document (For Visa-Free Travel)
Being able to travel as a permanent resident in Canada goes beyond having a passport. Actually, Canadian permanent residents do not have Canadian passports. At a glance, the lack thereof causes permanent residents to “miss out” on the benefits of having one. With a PR Card, this is not the case.
The benefit of a Canadian passport is visa-free travel to several specific countries. If you have a Canadian passport, you could travel to countries in the European Union as well as many parts of the Americas and the Middle East.
With a permanent resident card or valid PR card, you could travel to these places as well without a visa and Canadian passport. A PR card is a convenient and sufficient document to have for visa-free travel.
As A Document For Re-entry Into Canada
A valid PR card is also a required travel document for returning permanent residents.
By law, only permanent residents and Canadian citizens may enter Canada without a visa. International students and temporary workers who are travelling back to Canada need to have an eTA on their passports to be admitted back into the country.
As well, tourists coming to Canada without a valid visitor visa will not be granted entry.
For a permanent resident to be able to return to Canada, he or she needs to prove his or her status in Canada. Other than a PR card, few other documents are more useful or convenient for this purpose. In the absence of a valid PR card, a Canadian permanent resident would have no other alternative than to apply for a PRTD (permanent resident travel document).
In short, a permanent resident might need more than a passport to return to Canada. Besides, the PR card can get you access to automated kiosks when getting into Canada. A separate line for you, saving valuable time.
Documents For PR Card Application
To apply for a PR card, you must submit several documents for your application.
Application For Permanent Resident Card (IMM 5444)
This is an application form for which you need to provide several details or pieces of information. It is a downloadable form if you are preparing to apply before you land. You can download a copy of this form from IRCC’s website.
In this form, you need to provide the following:
- Your date of landing
- Some personal information
- The province to which you are going
- Your Canadian residential address
A Copy Of One Identification Document
An example of an identification document you could use is your passport. You do not need to submit an original copy. For the PR card application, you only need to submit one photocopy of your primary identification document.
Whatever document you choose, the copy should show the following:
- The type of document
- The document’s number (e.g. if it is a passport, the passport number)
- The date the document was issued
- The document’s expiration date
- Your name and photograph
- Your date of birth
You need to submit two photographs as part of your identification. One of these photographs will be used for your PR Card.
Some places will require you to wear a particular colour of shirt to make sure it does not blend into the background. If in doubt, take a gray and a white shirt and see which one your photographer will accept.
There are specifications to follow. Pictures that do not meet these specifications will result in a request for re-submission. This could cause a delay of up to 15 days. If you want to learn more about the guidelines for photographs, you can have a look at this article for more information.
At the time of writing, the processing fee of a PR card application is 50.00 Canadian Dollars per person. After payment, you need to keep the receipt and include this in your application. This will serve as proof that you have paid the necessary fee.
Document Checklist (IMM 5644)
As the application form for a PR card, this is also downloadable from IRCC’s main site. This must be included as part of your PR card application.
If you download this ahead of time, you will see that there are other required documents like a birth certificate and some legal documents. These are only needed in special circumstances. In most cases, the previous documents mentioned will suffice.
How Does One Apply For A PR Card?
There are a number of steps to follow for a PR card application. As with any other application, having your documents ready will make the process faster.
You need to follow these steps if:
- You are applying for your first PR card.
- You want to renew your PR card.
- You are applying for a new PR card because the one you had was either lost or damaged.
Step 1: Gather The Necessary Documents
On top of the documents mentioned in the earlier section, other supporting documents like a birth certificate can be useful. For a PR Card, you will most likely just need photocopies of your documents instead of the original copies.
You may have some documents that are not in English or French. If this is the case, you need to get them translated. In this article, you will see the necessary steps to do this.
Step 2: Complete The Application Form
In the earlier section, it was mentioned that part of the application was filling up an application form. Otherwise known as form IMM 5444, this application form contains about 26 questions.
You must provide accurate and honest information. Including misleading information in the application is a serious offence that incurs serious penalties.
Step 3: Pay The Processing Fee
The processing fee for a permanent resident card is 50.00 CAD. There are other fees that you might need to pay.
You may also have to pay for a biometrics fee that costs 85.00 CAD per person. For a family of four, the price is 170.00 CAD.
As mentioned earlier, save the receipt. Your receipt proves that you have made full payment of the necessary fees so it must be included in your application. Since payment to apply for a PR card is also online, your receipt will be sent to you by email. Print the receipt to include it when you apply.
With that in mind, you need to make the payment online using a valid credit or debit card. IRCC’s website contains a platform through which you could pay online.
Step 4: Mail Your Documents And Application Form
In mailing your application, make sure that your documents are in a stamped envelope. You could either send your application by mail or by courier.
There are two mailing addresses to which you could mail your application. Both are in the province of Nova Scotia.
By mail, you could send your PR card application to:
On the other hand, if you prefer to do so via courier:
Step 5: Wait For IRCC’s Response
IRCC will send you a notification by email. This notification is an acknowledgement of receipt. It is meant to inform you that your application has been received. If you have an incomplete application, it will be mailed back to you.
Later on, you will also receive information about the time and place from which to get your PR card.
Processing Times And Delivery
In most cases, the average processing time for a permanent resident card is about 45 days. However, it must be considered that delays are possible. With delays, you could expect your PR card to arrive in one to three months. Often, IRCC finishes processing PR card applications within this time.
You can expect your PR card to be mailed directly to your Canadian address. This is why your Canadian address must be included when you apply. If the address you have disclosed is tentative and you are still looking for a more permanent accommodation, you have the following options:
- If you know someone who is a Canadian permanent resident or citizen, you could give their address. Once the PR card is mailed to them, you could simply get it.
- You may also rent a UPS mailbox. You could the address of the mailbox you rented and retrieve your PR card there. You could check out UPS to see if there is a branch accessible to you.
Both options are advisable if you are applying for your PR card for the first time. The second option may be preferable for someone who may have lost or damaged his or her PR card.
A Note About COVID-19’s Effects On Processing Times And Delivery
COVID-19 has had a massive effect on government operations and offices due to limited operating capacity. For this reason, you can expect delays in many applications- not just those for PR cards.
We will be abreast of IRCC’s announcements on this matter. The contents of this section will be updated accordingly.
For now, IRCC’s operating status is at a limited capacity.
A valid PR card is one of the most important pieces of identification for any permanent resident in Canada. Not only does it prove one’s permanent resident status. It is also a useful document for permanent residents travelling to countries with visa exemptions. As well, it is a necessary travel document to get to return to Canada.
For what it does, the PR card is a card permanent residents should have.