Approved applicants should not wait months for their PR cards

  • February 28, 2023

The Immigration Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association, in a letter to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, or IRCC, says it’s time to speed up the process of issuing cards to approved applicants for permanent residence.

Delays of one to two weeks to issue an electronic Confirmation of Permanent Residence, or eCOPR, have been replaced by much longer delays of one to three months, Section members have noticed in their practice.

Such delays jeopardize approved applicants’ ability to travel internationally and may result in the ineligibility to claim benefits only available to Canadian permanent residents.

The Section recommends establishing standards in order to increase accountability and to streamline the process for applicants and their counsel to follow up when certain delays are longer than what they should be.

It is also necessary, the Section adds, to allow counsel to access the online portal used by IRCC and applicants to finalize the permanent resident process that culminates in the confirmation of permanent resident status. Currently, authorized representatives are unable to assist their clients when completing their confirmation of residence, which is “a denial of the right to counsel,” the letter states.

First PR cards

As of January 2023, the wait time for permanent residents to receive their first PR cards after the issuance of their eCOPR is 120 days, which the Section says is much too long. “New permanent residents are effectively ‘grounded’ and cannot easily travel internationally in the interim period between eCOPR issuance and receipt of their PR card,” the letter points out, given the requirement to have a PR or a permanent resident travel document, or PRTD, to re-enter Canada on a commercial flight.

If they must travel before receiving their first PR card, for instance to care for an ill relative or for work, permanent residents have to apply for a PRTD once they are out of the country, which can take several weeks and may result in Canadian permanent residents being stranded abroad. “The need to apply for and obtain a PRTD to facilitate travel before receiving the initial PR Card also creates additional work for the department and diverts resources from dealing with other pressing applications, further contributing to delays and backlogs,” the Section says.

One improvement the CBA letter suggests is to make an electronic PRTD available in the portal on the same day that new permanent residents can download their eCOPR. “New permanent residents could then travel internationally freely without fear that they will be prevented from returning to Canada,” the letter reads.

Improving processing times is especially important given the immigration targets announced in the fall of 2022 by the federal government for the next three years. The Section is keen to contribute to making the pathway to permanent residence a positive experience for applicants.