More and more new Canadian permanent resident cards who had the opportunity to become Canadian citizens have given up on the idea in the past two years, as that is way more attractive and advantageous as holding a Canadian passport. Over 21,000 have even given up on their permanent resident status as they are the principle bread earners in the family working abroad and are unable to fulfill the residency requirements. The highest number of “renunciations” are from citizens of China, India and South Korea.
People who renounce their permanent resident status no longer have to prove they’re spending significant time in Canada when they cross the borders or fly into an airport, say immigration lawyers in Vancouver.
Nor do Canadian immigration process dropouts have to give up the passport of their homelands, where many continue to work or run businesses. And they are not expected to declare their foreign assets to Canada Revenue Agency.
But here’s the thing, their families continue to be either permanent residents and citizens because they live and study in Canada. It also allows them the opportunity to either set themselves up in Canada or work anywhere else they like in the future. They have that option.
The people who renounce their permanent resident cards continue to return to visit their families as temporary visitors, especially on the increasingly popular 10-year visas.
People with permanent resident status in Canada are required to spend two years out of every five in the country.
A large number of these are so-called astronaut parents, who work offshore while their spouses and school-attending children remain in Canada, usually in urban centres, and own residential property, say the immigration lawyers.
The rapid rise in renunciations began in 2015 after then-immigration minister Chris Alexander, of the Conservatives, changed the rules to make it easier to voluntarily withdraw from the immigration process.
In the two years up to September of 2016, Citizenship and Immigration Canada figures show there were 5,407 renunciations by citizens of China, 2,431 by citizens of India, 1,681 by South Koreans, 1,416 by Britons and 1,129 by Taiwanese.
Another reason why many Chinese in particular don’t give up their Chinese citizenship is because of the privileges and economic opportunities available in their home countries. This is especially true in countries such as China, South Korea and increasingly India.
Lowe says he expects renunciations to jump even more since the federal government in November began requiring a new customs document for some travellers, called ETA, or electronic travel authorization.
Foreign nationals from certain countries can’t obtain an ETA if they are a permanent resident or if they are non-compliant with the terms of their residency card, Lowe said. As a result they’re not allowed to board a plane to come to Canada.
Given that problem, Lowe said many would-be immigrants choose to renounce their residency status and instead simply apply for temporary visas to Canada.
Richard Kurland, author of the Lexbase newsletter, said it’s become common for breadwinners to bring their entire family to B.C. as permanent residents and then to decide “either it’s too cold or there’s no way I’m going to file an income tax return and report my global interests and property and pay taxes in Canada on that. I’m returning to my country of origin.”
In many cases, Kurland said, just the spouse and children who physically stay in Canada for five years end up being the ones who become Canadian citizens.
“They get into the country. But not the person who brought them to Canada in the first place.”
In some cases, Kurland says, the family members who remain in places such as Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal while the breadwinner pays taxes elsewhere end up living, “technically,” below the poverty line.
If the breadwinner should ever want to retire in Canada, Kurland said, their now-Canadian spouse or children could apply to sponsor them.
And needless to say the wealthy breadearner could enjoy taxpayer funded healthcare and other benefits without having contributed anything to the system. Talk about enjoying the best of both worlds! – CINEWS