Permanent residents of Canada who have lost their status as a result of a refused PR card renewal application or a refused travel document application can appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division within 60 days.

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Canadian permanent residents who have been found not to have met the residency requirement of being in Canada for 2 years out of 5, and have lost their permanent residence as a result, can appeal the negative decision to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD).

Immigration department determinations of whether a permanent resident is meeting the residency requirement are generally triggered by an application to renew a permanent resident card or an application for a travel document. Once one of these applications is filed, the immigration authorities will assess whether the applicant is meeting the residency requirement, and if not, whether they fall into any of the exception categories.

If the applicant does not meet the residency requirement and does not meet the criteria for an exception, then the immigration authorities will issue a refusal letter stating that the applicant has lost their permanent residence. It is at this point that an appeal can be made to the IAD within 60 days.

It also sometimes occurs that a permanent resident arrives at the airport in Canada or at the land border between Canada and the USA with expired or expiring PR documents, and is assessed by the immigration authorities at the port of entry as having failed to meet the residency requirement then issued a removal order. In this instance an appeal can be made to the IAD within 30 days.

The Residency Appeal Process

Residency appeals are initiated by filing a Notice of Appeal to the local office of the Immigration Appeal Division. If the appellant is not in Canada then they should file the appeal through the office that serves the place of their last residency in Canada.

Once the appeal is filed the immigration authorities will produce a tribunal record. The record will contain a copy of the appellant’s immigration application and the computer notes of the immigration officer who refused the application, providing a detailed explanation for the refusal decision.

The IAD will review the record to see if the case is straight-forward or simple enough to be resolved at an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) interview. This is a meeting between the appellant and the lawyer for the immigration department to see if the case can be settled without the need to go to a full hearing. If the IAD believes the case is suitable for an ADR, they will invite the appellant to provide submissions explaining why their case should be allowed to go to an ADR. The Minister may also provide submissions. If the IAD schedules an ADR then this usually occurs within a few months of the appeal being filed and provides an opportunity for an early resolution of the case.

If there is no ADR, or the ADR is unsuccessful, the case will go to a full hearing before an IAD judge.

Residency appeal hearings before the IAD

Hearings before the IAD are similar to a court hearing in that there will be a presiding judge (called a Member), a prosecutor who represents the immigration department (called a Minister’s Representative) and the appellant and their consultant, if any. The process is adversarial and it will be up to the appellant to prove their case to the satisfaction of the judge. The appellant will testify and can call other witnesses to testify, can present new evidence in support of their case, and can be represented by a consultant who can lead the testimony and make submissions on the appellant’s behalf.

Decisions made by the immigration authorities that a permanent resident has lost his or her permanent residence for failure to meet the residency requirement are generally challenged on two major grounds. First, the decision can be challenged in law if the immigration authorities incorrectly assessed the period of time that the appellant was outside of Canada, or failed to properly consider one of the exception categories. Second, if the decision is correct in law, then the appeal can be made on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

The IAD judge will assess all of the evidence and will consider the submissions of the Minister’s representative and the consultant for the appellant before making a decision in the case. Decisions are usually made in writing after the appeal hearing has been held. If the decision is in the appellant’s favour, then they will be allowed to keep their permanent residence. If the appeal is denied, they will be issued a removal order. In this instance there would be a further appeal to the Federal Court.

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