Canada improves Permanent Residence Card application process

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On 16 June 2008, two changes were announced in the application process for Canadian Permanent Residence (PR) cards.

Permanent residents in Canada applying to replace a card that is due to expire will no longer be required to send in their current valid card with the application. Instead, they will need to hand in their old card only when they pick up the new card in person at a local Citizenship and Immigration Canada office.

In addition, permanent residents applying for a new or replacement PR card are no longer required to have the signature of a guarantor or required to sign a statutory declaration if a guarantor is not available.

Before the changes, permanent residents had to send in their existing PR card when they applied for a replacement. This presented difficulties for those wishing to travel outside Canada while their application was being processed. PR cards are required for entry back into Canada by permanent residents on commercial transportation such as planes and ships.

Canadian Immigration Minister Diane Finley said the new changes to the application process shows her department's commitment to providing "convenient services" to immigrants.

"We recognize that people may want to hold on to a valid card for travel purposes while waiting for the replacement," Finley said. "We also understand that newcomers may have difficulty finding a guarantor who has known them for at least two years."

The removal of the guarantor requirement, a security measure meant to establish the applicant's identity, was dropped in favor of using a person's existing passport, driver's license, or employment and educational information.

PR cards, introduced in 2002, are valid for five years in most cases. Permanent residents are allowed to apply for citizenship if they have lived in Canada for at least three years out of the previous four years.