Persons who are granted permanent resident status in Canada are permitted to remain in the country for the rest of their lives.
However, they are required to comply with the “residency obligation” provision under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act with respect to each five year period.
During that period (1825 days), they must be ” physically present ” in Canada for at least 730 days in order to be eligible for the renewal of their Permanent Resident (PR) cards.
Failure to comply with the “residency obligation” could result in loss of status and deportation.
Of course, there are circumstances in which permanent residents may be allowed to retain their status while out of Canada for a period longer than that specified in the Act. But this column will address only the problem of non-compliance with respect to ” residency obligation.”
It’s a problem which affects many immigrants from the Caribbean community who for some reason or other, chose to leave or abandon Canada as their home and did not meet the 730 days requirement to be eligible for the renewal of their PR Card. It should be borne in mind that whenever Citizenship and Immigration grants a person permanent residence status, it is for the sole purpose to permitting that person to establish residence in Canada and not to be used as what many call a ” Convenience Card. ”
I recently represented a permanent resident who is a well established Canadian businessman with strong family ties in Canada and who was residing in Trinidad and doing business there. As it turned out, he did not meet the number of days to be eligible for a travel document to return to Canada. A person loses permanent resident status only on a final determination of a decision made outside of Canada that the person failed to comply with the “residency obligation” under the Act. The businessman in question appealed this decision to the Immigration Appeal Division.
Let’s look at some of the relevant facts in this case. I will refer to the businessman as Herman (not his real name). In 1988, Herman entered Canada as a landed immigrant.
Previously, he had permanent resident status but lost it after he returned to Trinidad in 1978.
From May 2010 to May 2016 he has been physically present in Canada for only 328 days – not even half the minimum requirement – and was refused a travel document.
At the appeal hearing at which I represented him, he testified via video conference.
He told the panel that he has a family business in Trinidad and gave two reasons for his departure from Canada and his extended stay in Trinidad. Firstly, his mother suffered from cancer and died in 2012 and his father who had a heart attack, died in 2013. The other reason was that his father was a property developer with large real estate holdings and he had to remain in Trinidad to manage the estate, probate the wills and settle all outstanding real estate transactions.
The panel observed that he had a pattern of remaining for lengthy periods in Trinidad. From 2004 to 2009 he only resided in Canada for 1000 days.
I pointed out to the panel that Herman has substantial social and economic establishment in Canada. His social ties include his spouse, children and grand children who are all Canadian citizens. He previously had a trucking business with a fleet of over 50 trucks and also commercial property which has been sold. I also pointed out that Herman is a successful and hard working businessman, and that it would be beneficial for the family in Canada if he was allowed to return home.
At present he owns a cottage with nine bedrooms which was previously rented out. He also owns vacant land in Orangeville, Ontario and the family home in Woodbridge, Ontario.
His wife, in her testimony, explained that she needed her husband to be present to assist her.
While he was in Trinidad, Herman received earnings from property sales from which he sent his wife about 6,000 Canadian dollars on a monthly basis which she used to cover most of the expenses in Canada.
I appealed to panel to give Herman one more chance and pointed out that if he loses his permanent status, there is no certainty that he would be granted a visitor’s visa and that if his spouse had to “re-sponsor” him, this would put the family through another ordeal.
In allowing the appeal, the panel stated that this was a borderline case. It noted that Herman has not sufficiently provided documentary evidence to prove that his family estate has been wound up but that there are positive H&C (Humanitarian and Compassionate) considerations of his family ties, his establishment, the length of time he has been in this country, and the best interest of the children.
To maintain his permanent resident status, Herman now has to make sure that he does not breach his ” residency obligation ” again.
Best of luck, Herman.
SUKHRAM RAMKISSOON is a member of ICCRC and specializes in Immigration Matters at No. 3089 Bathurst Street, Suite 219A, Toronto, Ontario. Phone 416 789 5756.