PR Cards will no Longer be Mailed to Permanent Residents’ Representatives

On January 14, 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC“) issued Operational Bulletin 491 – Mailing Permanent Resident Cards (“PR Cards“) to Representatives (“OB-491“).  OB-491 is an update to the 2012 Pilot Project to mail permanent resident cards directly to applicants instead of having them attend at a CIC office.

Many permanent residents have been requesting that CIC mail their PR Cards to their authorized representatives.  This apparently caused CIC to be concerned that authorized representatives would forward the PR Cards to permanent residents overseas, which is (possibly) contrary to (the somewhat unclear) subsection 55 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (the “Regulations“), which states:

DELIVERY

55. A permanent resident card shall only be provided or issued in Canada.

OB-491 accordingly clarifies that CIC will mail PR Cards issued to new immigrants (also known as “Phase I Cards“) to third parties in Canada, including friends, relatives, service providers or paid representatives, in order to facilitate the processing and issuance of PR Cards to new immigrants as they may not yet have a permanent address in Canada.

OB-491 also stipulates that CIC will only mail renewal or replacement PR Cards (also known as “Phase 2 Cards“) directly to applicants with permanent residential addresses in Canada.  CIC has accordingly already started sending the following letters (the “CIC letters“) to permanent residents who request that their Phase 2 Cards be mailed to third parties:

Your application indicates your representative’s address as your home and mailing address. As per subparagraph 56(2)(a)(iv) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, we require that applicants provide their personal mailing address, as Permanent Resident Cards are not mailed to third parties.

Please provide your mailing address and the information requested by “dd, mm, yyyy” to enable us to issue your Permanent Resident Card. If the information requested is not provided by the date indicated, we will consider your application as abandoned and you will have to submit a new application, including processing fees.

Once you have provided this information we will continue with the processing of your application.

How does CIC plan to issue Phase 2 Cards to permanent residents who do not have a permanent address in Canada?  The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (the “Act”) provides that permanent residents maintain their permanent resident status if they are outside of Canada accompanying a spouse who is a Canadian citizen.   Many such individuals may visit Canada with their spouse frequently, but they do not have a permanent address here.  This is quite common, and our office regularly helps such permanent residents renew their PR Cards.  If third parties can no longer receive the PR Cards and hold them until they next visit Canada to pick their PR Cards up, how can these individuals renew their PR Cards?

Is there going to be a mechanism for them to pick them up from a CIC office?