Sergey Popkov immigrated to Canada from Russia in 2004 and had travelled between the two countries marketing for a Brampton trading company.
His permanent resident card expired in 2009 after five years, and Popkov, nominally a Toronto resident, lost his immigrant status when it was discovered he’d spent only 470 days in Canada in that time, short of the 730-day presence required to retain it.
It’s a hard lesson for the 55-year-old former commercial pilot, who has twice been denied a visitor’s visa to see his wife, two daughters and grandson — all citizens here. He may remain separated from his family for the foreseeable future.
The number of immigrants losing their permanent residency for not spending enough time in Canada has almost tripled over the past five years, from 1,653 in 2006 to 4,587 last year, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Officials say the rising revocations have nothing to do with the Conservative government’s hard-line approach to immigration and citizenship.
In 2003, Ottawa introduced the permanent resident card as a mandatory international travel document for immigrants who are not yet citizens. The so-called Maple Leaf card has also been used to track immigrants’ movements to see if they fulfill their residency obligation — two out of five years — in Canada.
All immigrants must meet that minimum to keep their status. If they spend 1,095 days or more over the five years here, they are eligible to become citizens.
Exemptions are given to those staying outside Canada who are accompanying a Canadian-citizen spouse or who are employed full-time by a Canadian business or government.
“The increase in the number of permanent residency revocations, (especially) in 2008, is likely related to the PR card becoming mandatory for international travel in 2003 and the surge of renewal applications that occurred following the initial five-year validity period,” said a department spokesperson.
“In the course of regular processing of applications, residency issues are identified. These may also be informed through ongoing investigations by enforcement partners.”
Popkov was in Moscow when his request to renew his permanent resident card was denied. The visa officer found he was not working full-time for the Brampton firm and did not count his days in Russia toward his residency obligation.
His daughter, Alina Popkova, said she recognizes her father has no legal grounds to keep his status, but is upset immigration officials use his family ties in Canada in their decision-making only when it suits them.
In stripping Popkov’s permanent resident status, an immigration tribunal concluded that “he does have family ties to Canada; however, he is only minimally established in Canada.”
But in rejecting his visitor’s visa, authorities said they weren’t satisfied he’s leave at the end of the temporary period if they granted a visa.
“We recognize my father didn’t meet the residency requirement, but you can’t keep the family apart by denying him a visa to visit us. It is just inhumane,” said Popkova, 32, a product manager who now plans to sponsor her father to Canada — with no assurance that he would be accepted.
Immigrant status revoked on failed residency requirement
2006 309 1,3441,653
Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada