The number of new Canada immigrants though the Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) more than doubled last year and easily surpassed the previous record set during the year before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveals a staggering 27,195 new permanent residents to Canada arrived through the PGP last year, or 131.6 per cent more than the 11,740 in 2021.
Since the PGP relies on existing relatives in Canada sponsoring their parents and grandparents, the PGP has taken time to rebuild its numbers after the dramatic drop in overall immigration wrought by the public health and travel restrictions imposed by governments to curb the spread of COVID-19.
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As overall immigration plummeted from 341,175 new permanent residents in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, to only 184,595 newcomers in 2020, so too did the number of new arrivals under the PGP.
After welcoming 22,010 new permanent residents through the PGP in 2019, the program saw only 10,455, or 52.5 per cent less, in the first year of the pandemic.
The following year, overall immigration roared back to life with what was then a new record of 406,040 new permanent residents in 2021.
Despite that massive surge in immigration that year, though, the number of new arrivals under the PGP only rose by a modest 12.3 per cent to hit 11,740 new permanent residents in 2021.
It would take another record-setting year for immigration and the time it takes for newcomers to be able to sponsor their families, for the PGP numbers to follow suit.
The current level of immigration through the PGP is now almost double what it was in 2015 when it allowed 15,490 parents and grandparents to be sponsored to come to Canada.
With Ottawa’s much-higher immigration targets for the coming years, there’s little doubt the PGP numbers will be even higher this year.
Canada Hoping To Bring In 1.45m Immigrants Within Three Years
In its 2023-2025 Immigration Levels Plan, Ottawa has set the target for 2023 at 465,000 new permanent residents. The country is to welcome 485,000 new permanent residents in 2024 and another 500,000 in 2025.
That’s a total of 1.45 million immigrants to Canada over the coming three years.
Under the PGP, applicants pay $1,050 to sponsor a parent or grandparent and the process takes up to 39 months, with the people being sponsored required to provide biometrics after they apply. That processing time includes the time to provide those biometrics.
Once a Canadian citizen or permanent resident has submitted an interest in sponsoring these relatives, he or she is sent an Invitation to Apply (ITA0 and must then submit two applications to the PGP:
- the sponsorship application, and;
- the permanent residence application.
If those applications get the green light, the sponsor signs an agreement called an undertaking which starts on the day the sponsoree becomes a permanent resident of Canada.
Among the several requirements which need to be met to determine eligibility to sponsor a parent or grandparent, are:
- a receipt of an Invitation to Apply;
- being at least 18 years old;
- Canadian residency;
- being a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of Canada, or a person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act;
- sufficient funds to support the parent or grandparent;
- proof of income, although a spouse or common-law partner can co-sign to combine their income with that of the sponsor, and;
- meeting all other requirements under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.
Applicants Who Sponsor Under PGP Make Themselves Responsible For Providing For Their Relatives
All sponsors living outside of the province of Quebec, which has its own immigration system, must promise to financially support the sponsors for a period of time.
This undertaking commits the sponsor to:
- providing financial support for sponsored family members for 20 years, starting when they become permanent residents;
- repaying any provincial social assistance (money from the government) sponsored family members get during that time, and;
- agreeing to certain responsibilities during the undertaking period in a sponsorship agreement.
That sponsorship agreement means that the sponsor will provide the basic needs of the sponsored, including:
- personal requirements;
- household supplies, and;
- healthcare not covered by public health insurance, such as eye and dental care.
The sponsorship agreement is not one to be entered into lightly as it obliges the sponsor to meet those requirements even in the case of:
- separation or divorce;
- family rifts;
- change in finances, and even;
- death of the main applicant.
Sponsors who live in Quebec must meet that province’s immigration sponsorship requirements after the IRCC approves of the sponsor. The length of the undertaking is 10 years for Quebec.
Due to the need for sponsors to accept responsibility for their parents and grandparents through sponsorship agreements under the PGP, past criminality and serious financial troubles can render a Canadian citizen or permanent resident ineligible for this program.
Applicants may not be eligible to sponsor their parents or grandparents if the sponsors:
- are in a jail, prison or penitentiary;
- didn’t pay back an immigration loan or performance bond;
- failed to make court-ordered family support payments such as alimony or child support;
- didn’t give the financial support specified under a sponsorship agreement to sponsor someone else in the past;
- declared bankruptcy and are not discharged;
- receive social assistance for a reason other than a disability;
- were convicted of a violent criminal offence, any offence against a relative or any sexual offence inside or outside Canada, or;
- can’t legally stay in Canada and must leave the country because they received a removal order.
The applicant cannot sponsor his or her spouse’s parents or grandparents, aka their in-laws, but can be a co-signer on that spouse’s application to bring to Canada his or her parents and grandparents.
PGP Application Can Include Sponsor’s Brothers And Sisters If They Are Dependents Of The Parents
The PGP program also does not allow a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to sponsor someone who is otherwise inadmissible to come to Canada.
The PGP is restricted to the applicant’s own parents and grandparents, related by blood or adoption.
“In case of divorce, you’ll need to submit separate applications if you sponsor divorced parents and grandparents,” notes the IRCC on its website. “If your divorced parents or grandparents have a current spouse, common-law partner or a conjugal partner, these people become dependants on the application and can immigrate to Canada with your parents and grandparents, if approved.”
A PGP application can include the sponsor’s own brothers and sisters, or half-brothers and sisters, or step-brothers and step-sisters – but only if they qualify as dependent children of the sponsor’s parents.
Delays in processing can quickly occur when the IRCC is faced with information which is no longer accurate and so Canadian immigration officials encourage applicants to keep their contact information and application details up to date.
Important information which must be updated includes:
- changes in relationship status;
- birth or adoption of a child;
- death of an applicant or dependant;
- contact information such as e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and mailing addresses.
The applicant is responsible for going into the application and updating it with this information him or herself.
“Don’t mail us changes to your contact or application information,” notes the IRCC. “If you do, we won’t acknowledge your request and we won’t update your application.”
Canadian immigration officials notify applicants under the PGP as soon as they begin to process the application, sending them both an application number and an acknowledgement of receipt of the application.
The IRCC then assesses both the applicant’s eligibility as a sponsor and the person being sponsored for permanent residence.
“If we refuse you as a sponsor, you can choose to have us keep processing the application for permanent residence for your family members,” notes the IRCC.
Expect IRCC Officials To Request Medical Exams, Police Certificates And Biometric Data
Choosing to have the IRCC continue processing the application at that point means the sponsor forgoes all fees which have been paid.
By choosing to withdraw the application in the eventuality of being deemed ineligible to sponsor, the applicant can get all of his or her fees back, minus the $75 sponsorship fee.
Once Canadian immigration officials have approved a sponsor under the PGP, they then turn their attention to the people being sponsored to determine their eligibility under the program.
The IRCC will typically request documents from those being sponsored, including:
- medical exam results;
- police certificates, and;
Letters requesting that biometric information are sent to the parents or grandparents and their dependent children as named in the application and they then have 30 days to provide the biometric information at the closest collection point.