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Canadian Citizenships, Visas and Passports

What are my son’s options

Q. Our family became permanent residents of Canada in August 2005. Our son is currently 20 years old. He was 17 years old and a student at a prep schooI in his last year in the USA at the time of landing. He was recruited by an American University in 2006 and received a scholarship to pursue his full-time studies at an American University. His PR card will expire in September 2010. After graduation, his intentions are to come back to Toronto where his family lives.

My husband, I and our youngest daughter, living with us, are going to apply for citizenship in Canada in August 2009. Our son also wants to become a citizen of Canada. Even though he is doing his best to come home during vacation and work part-time in Toronto, paying taxes, etc., also presently taking two courses at the University of Toronto towards his Bachelor Degree, he does not satisfy the physical presence requirement, because of his University studies. What can we do in this situation? I have recently heard about a returning residency permit option.

A. Returning resident permits (RRP) were repealed with the passage of the new Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) that became law in June 2002. The focus currently for your son will be the maintenance of permanent residency (PR) status and not citizenship. Many people confuse the two tests. To apply for citizenship, the applicant must have been physically present in Canada for 1095 days (three years) within the last four years before the application is submitted with certain exceptions. To maintain PR status, the permanent resident must be in Canada for at least two years in a five year period. There are certain discretionary exceptions under both tests too involved to discuss in this context. One thing is clear though to apply for citizenship in this case he must have maintained his PR status. Ultimately your son must make best efforts to be physically present for the two years failing which he will have to rely on discretionary relief through an immigration officer or the Immigration Appeal Division. There must be compelling reasons as to why your son cannot meet the residency test and a scholarship may not be sufficient reasons to overcome his legal obligation. As this is one factor I am sure of many, consult an immigration lawyer to review your matter and advise accordingly. Good luck!

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