The immensely popular Parent and Grandparent Program (PGP) is expected to reopen in January, 2016, with sponsors and candidates already preparing for what is expected to be a very short application intake period.
This family sponsorship program allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to bring their foreign parents and grandparents to Canada as Canadian permanent residents.
Since the PGP reopened two years ago with new criteria after a hiatus that began in 2011, the program has proved to be one of the most competitive Canadian immigration programs. The 2014 program, which had an application cap of 5,000 complete applications, filled in just three weeks.
The rush to get a complete and accurate application submitted was even more competitive for the 2015 program, which opened in January of this year. That application cap was reached within a couple of days, and the program has since been closed. Most candidates and sponsors who did not manage to submit the application immediately after the program reopened had their applications returned.
The 2016 Parent and Grandparent Program
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has said that the PGP will reopen in January, 2016. The government has not indicated whether there will be any changes to the eligibility criteria of the 2016 program.
Given that last year’s allocation was snapped up within days and that many prospective sponsors and their families have been waiting with anticipation for the PGP to reopen, demand is likely to continue to outweigh supply if a similar cap on the program is in place for the next application cycle. Therefore, sponsors and sponsored parties may be able to maximize their chances of submitting an application before the 2015 program fills by preparing their documents in advance and having them ready to submit by January. Failure to prepare for the program in advance may result in applicants missing their opportunity to apply.
Parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents applying under this program will receive Canadian permanent resident status, and may eventually apply for Canadian citizenship after fulfilling residency obligations. The sponsor in Canada must meet the following requirements:
- Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
- Be 18 years of age or older;
- Exceed the minimum necessary income level for this program by submitting notices of assessment issued by the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) in support of their sponsorship. Sponsors must also demonstrate they have met the minimum necessary income level for three consecutive years. If married or in a common-law relationship, the income of both persons can be included; and
- Promise to provide financial support for the sponsored relative for a period of 20 years. This time period begins on the date the sponsored relative becomes a permanent resident.
The sponsor and the sponsored relative must sign a sponsorship agreement that commits the sponsor to provide financial support for the sponsored relative, if necessary. This agreement also states that the person becoming a permanent resident will make every effort to support himself or herself. Quebec residents must sign an “undertaking” with the province of Quebec — a contract binding the sponsorship.
Another option for Canadian citizens and permanent residents hoping to bring their parents and/or grandparents to Canada is the Super Visa. This visa is not a program for permanent residence, but allows parents and grandparents to come to Canada as long-term visitors. Successful applicants receive multiple-entry visitor visas that are valid for up to 10 years.
Canada’s election and the PGP application cap
The PGP has come under close scrutiny in recent weeks, with Canada’s two main opposition political parties — the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party (NDP) — both stating on the record that they would either increase or remove the application cap for the program and assign additional resources to help process applications.
If a new governing party is in place after the Canadian federal election, which is due to take place later this month, it remains to be seen whether the application cap would be altered or removed for the 2016 PGP intake. Neither opposition party has revealed any potential changes to the actual program criteria.
Getting a head start
“If the past two application cycles for this program have revealed anything, it is that individuals and families who prepare well in advance are in a far better position to be reunited in Canada more quickly and efficiently than those who do not,” says Attorney David Cohen.
“While the program may see some changes over the coming years, I would encourage sponsors and potential sponsored relatives to get a head start on preparing for the 2016 program with the mindset that it will reopen with an application cap of 5,000 spaces and similar, if not identical, criteria. If any changes are made for 2016, they could well be favourable to sponsors and their parents and grandparents — in that case, such changes could then be seen as a welcome bonus.”
To find out if you or your family members are eligible for the Parent and Grandparent Program based on the eligibility criteria for the most recent application cycle, please fill out a free online assessment today.
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