Is keeping my Canadian permanent residency possible?
March 24, 2011 10:36 AM   Subscribe

Canadian permanent residency question. Approaching end of 3rd year on a PR card, without spending very much time in Canada. Received stern warning from a border agent - what to do?

Hi all! I'm approaching the 3-year mark for my residency this summer. I've spent, at this point, about 5 months of the required 2 years in Canada to keep my residency for another five years. FWIW, I received my residency via a marriage that went south.

I work on the road and travel constantly with theater shows on tour, primarily in the US. I've signed on to do this at least one more year - my mom lost her job and I'm the safety net so quitting is not an option.

When crossing the border this summer to visit friends, a border guard asked me if I planned on moving to Canada. I tried to explain my job/figuring-things-out situation. I got a very stern (paraphrased) "you need to give up your permanent residency. If you let it run out they will never give it to you again." Other times when I crossed the border, I'd get stern talkings-to by border guards, though not as extreme, so this was not a completely isolated event.

My question is two-fold: (1) Is there any validity in what border guard said; (2) Any info on what they (meaning Canada) are looking for when I come up for permanent residency re-granting? I'd love to keep it, but given my goofy work/life situation, I'm not sure I'm physically able to be in Canada to the extent they want. Any online resources, etc. would be greatly appreciated!!!

Thank you!!! Thank you!!!
posted by ashtabula to opelika to Law & Government (10 answers total)
Talk to an immigration lawyer. You're probably running a real risk of losing your residency status. You need professional help.
posted by GuyZero at 10:48 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you want the source level details the CIC site has them. It's a dense read, but you'd want to focus on section 7.

Your obligation as a PR is to be physically present in Canada[*] for a minimum of 730 days over any 5 year period of having PR status. It sounds like you need to determine whether your theatre work qualifies for meeting residency requirements. If it does, you need to document it; if it doesn't, you need to decide whether you would rather continue your current work as a non-resident or change to work which allows you to meet your residency requirement.

The guy at the border is right: if you obtain PR and lose it due to not meeting your residency obligation, any future attempt to gain Canadian Permanent Resident status will be in jeopardy. You're rapidly approaching a point where you need to decide where your future lies.

[*] specific exceptions: accompanying a Canadian Citizen spouse, working for a prescribed Canadian business or the Canadian government
posted by thatdawnperson at 10:51 AM on March 24, 2011

You need to talk to an immigration lawyer. Normally I'd just favorite GuyZero & thatdawnperson above, but I don't think you're taking this seriously enough.

So: go start talking to immigration lawyers. Not next week, not next month, now.
posted by aramaic at 10:56 AM on March 24, 2011

I would talk to an immigration, but you might consider your long-term goals in how much you want to invest in this. If you don't think you need to have Canadian permanent residency in the near future, wouldn't it be better to give it up instead of letting it lapse and ruining your chances of gettig it again? If you're from the US, mostly work in the US, spend little time in Canada, and are no longer married to a Canadian, why are you concerned? Are you planning on settling in Canada at some point?
IANAL, I have never even been to Canada, just thinking about this from a life perspective.
posted by elpea at 11:08 AM on March 24, 2011

*to an immigration lawyer
posted by elpea at 11:08 AM on March 24, 2011

Not sure where you reside in Canada, but non-profits that provide services to immigrants typically provide free advice (usually by a lawyer) about PR issues. VIRCS in Victoria, BC is one such organization. It's cheaper than directly contacting a lawyer.

At the same time, you really need to document your residential ties. Where is your primary residence? Do you own, lease, or rent a residence in Canada? Do you pay utilities in Canada? Do you have a Canadian bank account that you use to pay these bills and to keep savings? Are you part of a provincial health plan (like BC Medical Services Plan)?

Generally speaking, if you cannot demonstrate residential ties, you will lose your residency.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:23 AM on March 24, 2011

As others have said, see an immigration lawyer. AskMe is not the place for this question.
posted by smorange at 11:30 AM on March 24, 2011

Are these theatre shows primarily Canadian shows touring in the US? Do you own property in Canada or in the US or both? Do you have leases in Canada or the US? Bank accounts? Significant others or family? You don't appear to have any real ties to Canada.

But no: the border guard is correct, you are not living up to what Canada expects of a PR (essentially that the person is resident in Canada, or, if they are travelling, that they are doing so on behalf of a Canadian employer), you can lose your permanent residency, and you may have trouble getting it again.

An immigration lawyer and a thoughtful consideration of whether you actually want Canadian permanent residency are called for right now.
posted by jeather at 11:56 AM on March 24, 2011

Just to clarify what jeather said: if the theatre shows are Canadian, then working on them in the US may qualify for Canadian residency. I worked on a Canadian tv show shooting South Africa, and those months counted towards my residency.
posted by musofire at 2:08 PM on March 24, 2011

Assuming your work doesn't count as a Canadian job for the purposes of preserving your permanent residence (which, if your activities aren't being organized and directed from Canada, it probably doesn't), you are indeed at risk of losing your PR, and will lose it if you spend another year outside Canada.

You've spent five months in Canada since becoming a permanent resident. If you can't spend the remainder of the required 730 days in Canada before you hit your fifth anniversary, you will lose your PR. Furthermore, if you enter Canada at a point before your fifth anniversary where it is mathematically impossible for you to spend enough time to get to 730 days, they may very well start the process to revoke your PR right then and there. (Should this occur, any time you spend in Canada after that point will not count toward the residency requirement.)

Let's say for the sake of argument that you landed on July 1, 2008, and that since that time, you've spent 153 days in Canada. If you do not move to Canada by December 1, 2011, and stay there without leaving until July 1, 2013, you will not have met the residency requirement and may well lose your PR. Adjust the numbers as necessary, but you're still looking at having to move to Canada in the next eight months.

It does not matter when your PR card expires. It does not matter whether you have bank accounts in Canada.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:54 PM on March 24, 2011

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