Know Your Expiry Dates
As a private Immigration company we are no longer surprised when we get calls from people who are travelling in a matter of weeks and have just noticed their PR card has expired. Or their Canadian Passport has expired and they are being asked, not for the wallet-sized citizenship card, but for the new style Canadian Citizenship Certificate in order to replace it. Some people are not even aware of this new certificate.
We have all fallen into the trap of booking those last minute cheap deals for a trip or being surprised by a loved one with a romantic getaway for two only to find that an ID has expired and it is impossible to get it replaced in a few weeks.
That beautiful image of you holding hands while strolling bare foot along the fine white sands of some far away land while the baking sun beats down on you is shattered and replaced by an image of your partner, alone, skin red and sun-burned because you were not there to apply the sunscreen.
Don't let this happen to you! For many years now the processing time for PR cards and Citizenship certificates have not really changed. The usual time frame is 6 months. Outraged? You should be. It does seem like a ridiculous amount of time to replace a document that you have had before. Sometimes, with the Citizenship document, you have had it for many years and you are just applying for an updated version. Why does it take so long? Nobody knows! It's that mysterious question we hear everyday.
What Can You Do About It?
If you are a PR card holder and you are travelling in 3 weeks time then not very much can be done. You would have to apply for a travel document in the country you are visiting once you are abroad. Not very easy when you are only visiting for a long weekend and the Visa Application Office that services the country you are visiting is in the bordering country and you need a visa to enter that country!
If you are a naturalised Canadian and need a new certificate to apply for your new passport and you are travelling in 3 weeks it will be even harder!
There are ways around all of this for some, but for most it is a nightmare and extrememly costly when you have purchased return tickets for somewhere exotic and you are not going to be able to make it.
Of course all of this can be avoided. Ultimately it is your responsibility to be aware of your documents. Know the expiration dates of your PR Card and your passport. Make it your job to be aware of any changes with regards to citizenship certificates and other related immigration news. There are 6.8 million immigrants in Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada cannot email each person individually to keep them abreast of changes or personal expiry dates.
The processing time for replacing pretty much any immigration document (i.e. your Landing Paper, PR Card or Citizenship Certificate) is 6 months. Set yourself a reminder in your calendar or your phone for the beginning of the year in which your document expires. When you get that reminder act on it immediately. Far better to start the process early and get your document in plenty of time. Don't be the one left behind looking at holiday photos on facebook because you left it too late.