After two years of waiting, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will soon be able to, once again, sponsor their parents and grandparents for Permanent Residency. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced last Friday, May 10th, that the Parent and Grandparent stream of the Family Sponsorship program will begin accepting new applications on January 2nd, 2014.
Faced with growing backlogs, CIC stopped accepting applications for the Parent and Grandparent stream on November 5th, 2011. When the program reopens, CIC has promised a greatly reduced backlog and therefore faster processing times.
The Family Class Program
Family Class sponsorship allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, dependent child(ren), parents, and grandparents. Successful sponsored persons receive Canadian Permanent Residency.
Canada is unique among similar countries in its generous options for parent and grandparent sponsorship. Countries such as the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand do not allow sponsorship of grandparents, and many place firm restrictions on the sponsorship of parents.
The Action Plan
CIC has enacted a 4 step Action Plan, which will ensure that family sponsorship applications continue to be processed at high levels.
“The Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification is on track to meet the goals of cutting in half the backlog and wait times in the Parent and Grandparent program,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. “It is very important that we continue to make progress and not return to the old broken system with wait times as long as a decade – that would be unfair to families.”
The 4-step plan is as follows:
Step 1: In 2012 and 2013, Canada admitted approximately 50,000 parents and grandparents as Canadian Permanent Residents, the highest level in 20 years. This has helped reduce backlogs and waiting times.
Step 2: The popular Super Visa program, which allows parents and grandparents to enter Canada as long-term visitors, has been made a permanent. Since its launch in December 2012, over 15,000 Super Visas have been issued to qualifying family members.
Step 3: New qualifying criteria (detailed below) will be implemented to increase the financial responsibility of sponsors. This ensures that they have the means to support their family member(s) while minimizing costs incurred by the Canadian public for needs such as healthcare and social services.
Step 4: For 2014, a strict cap of 5,000 new applications will be accepted for processing in the Parent and Grandparent stream.
New Sponsorship Criteria
For the coming year, five qualifying criteria have been added or amended. They largely focus on ensuring that sponsors who bring family members to Canada will be capable of supporting these individuals.
Minimum necessary income (MNI) increased by 30 percent: Sponsors of parents and grandparents must make at least 30 per cent more than the standard MNI level. CIC believes the previous MNI level did not “accurately reflect the increased costs associated with being financially responsible for elderly parents and grandparents”.
Lengthen period for demonstrating funds from one year to three: Individuals must prove that they have been financially stable for a longer period of time. Evidence of income must be proven by documents issued by Canada Revenue Association (CRA): CRA notices of assessment will be the only means accepted for proof of income levels. This will help speed application processing times, as all documents will be uniform.
Extend sponsorship undertaking period to 20 years instead of 10: Individuals who sponsor their parents and grandparents must accept an undertaking of financial responsibility for 20 years. This means that sponsors will be responsible for repaying any social assistance given to their parents or grandparents by a province for 20 years after they become Permanent Residents, as well as health care costs not covered by provincial health care.
Accompanying dependents must be 18 or younger: For all immigration programs, the maximum age of dependents will be reduced to 18 years or younger. Individuals of any age who are dependent due to physical or mental disability may still be included on applications.
“It is encouraging to see that Canada is making good on its promise to get parent and grandparent processing times under control,” said Attorney David Cohen. “I have many clients, and many friends, who have been waiting patiently these past two years for the chance to bring their loved ones to Canada for good. I look forward to helping them unite their families in Canada.”
Stay tuned to CIC News for additional information on this program as it is released.
To find out if you or family members are eligible for a Super Visa or may become eligible for Family Class sponsorship, please fill out a free online assessment.