Can I get my permanent resident card processed urgently?

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: January 4, 2024

In late November last year, the Toronto Star shed light on a growing concern among new immigrants in Canada surrounding the time it takes to receive their official immigration documents.

In particular, the story emphasizes that new immigrants are sometimes stuck in Canada for months after being approved for permanent residence while they await their Permanent Resident cards (PR cards) from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Beyond serving as a form of identification for new immigrants, PR cards are a vital travel document that permanent residents must present at a port of entry to re-enter Canada. Not having a PR card hinders an immigrant's ability to travel outside of Canada in case of an emergency. 

Discover if You Are Eligible for Canadian Immigration

According to numbers quoted by the Toronto Star from IRCC, over 70,000 new Canadian PRs are waiting for their first PR card at the time of writing.

Fortunately for some, however, IRCC provides a pathway for certain new immigrants to have their PR cards processed urgently by the Canadian government.

Who is eligible for urgent PR card processing?

Canadian permanent residents who are travelling outside Canada in the next three months can apply to have their PR card processed urgently if the reason for their travel is related to:

  • A job opportunity
  • A serious illness
  • The death of a family member
  • Work related to your current job
  • The serious illness of a family member

Note: IRCC clarifies that qualifying for urgent processing does not guarantee that a new PR will receive their card on time; current processing times for PR cards can be found here. At the time of writing, IRCC’s estimated processing time for first-time PR card applicants is 42 days. The estimated processing time for PR card renewal/replacement applicants is currently 63 days.

The table on this Government of Canada webpage can give you an idea of whether it realistic for you to potentially have your PR card processed in time for your travel. This will depend on several factors, including when you are travelling outside of Canada or if you are already outside the country, as well as whether you have already applied for a PR card or if it has become misplaced/expired. 

For those who are not deemed eligible for urgent processing, alternate options are available to PRs looking to travel outside Canada such as a Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTD). A PRTD is a one-time travel document for which permanent residents can apply if they are outside of Canada without a valid PR Card. PRTDs are detailed further by the government webpage linked above.

How do I prove that I need my PR card processed urgently?

New immigrants who are deemed eligible for urgent PR card processing must submit supporting documents to prove they need faster processing.

Proof can be provided to IRCC by submitting the following documents alongside your request to have your PR card processed urgently:

  • Proof of travel (e.g. a copy of your ticket or itinerary)*
  • A copy of your receipt with the date, amount paid, and your payment method
  • A letter explaining the reason for the urgency, and proof of this urgency**

*Provided proof of travel must showcase your destination and travel dates

**Depending on the reason for your urgency, documents such as a doctor’s note, death certificate, or letter from your employer would suffice as proof of urgency

Note: IRCC notes that omission of required documents to prove your need for urgent processing will result in your application being processed “normally”

Discover if You Are Eligible for Canadian Immigration

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