Canada immigration news: In the wake of it being dealt a devastating blow during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ottawa is attempting to re-build its Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) by lowering the income needed by sponsors and increasing the number of invitations to apply.
Back in 2015, the program was responsible for 15,490 new permanent residents to Canada, with the country’s most populous province, Ontario, getting the lion’s share of these new arrivals.
Then, over the course of the next four years, the PGP grew, resulting in 17,040 new permanent residents in 2016, then 20,495 the following year, dipping down a bit in 2018 to 18,030 but finishing off 2019 strong with 22,010 newcomers.
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By then, the last full year before the pandemic, the PGP had grown by 42.1 per cent, or 6,520 new permanent residents annually.
COVID-19, though, led Canada to close its borders to non-essential travel and other countries followed suit, leading to massive drops in overall immigration to the country.
COVID-19, Border Closures Decimated Parents and Grandparents Program
In a single year, the number of new permanent residents under the PGP plummeted by almost 52.5 per cent to 10,455. The number of newcomers under the program last year was only a smidgeon more than two-thirds of the figure seen five years before, in 2015.
It might have seemed like things couldn’t get worse for the program – but they did.
In the first five months of this year, only 3,335 new permanent residents to Canada arrived under the program.
That’s a drop in the average number of new permanent residents to Canada under the PGP this year of 23.4 per cent over the already-abysmally low results of 2020.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is tackling the challenge of the program’s poor performance this year. Earlier this month, the IRCC announced it will accept an additional 30,000 applications under the 2021 PGP.
That means a record of up to 40,000 applications will be accepted this year when added to the 10,000 already received.
The new invitations to apply will be issued over two weeks from Sept. 20 to those who have previously submitted interest-to-sponsor forms.
Immigration Minister Says Pandemic Highlights Importance of Family
“The importance of family has never been clearer than during the pandemic,” said Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino in announcing the changes earlier this month.
“That is why we are delivering on our commitment to help more families reunite in Canada.
“By strengthening the Parents and Grandparents Program, inviting a record number of sponsors to apply, and by adjusting our requirements to adapt to the current times, we are once again proving our commitment to helping Canadian families stay together, and thrive together.”
Those adjusted requirements include accepting that the sponsors’ incomes can now be the minimum necessary – instead of the usual minimum plus 30 per cent – and that Employment Insurance and COVID-19 benefits can also count towards the sponsors’ incomes.
“This measure will ensure that applicants are not penalized for losing income during the pandemic,” the IRCC noted in a statement.
Those invited to apply have 60 days to complete a full application, through the IRCC’s new Permanent Resident Digital Intake tool.
Sponsors To Be Sent Invitation Emails In September
Potential sponsors should check their e-mail from Sept. 20 to see if they have received an invitation. They will also be able to check online.
Selected potential sponsors will have their income assessed for tax years 2020, 2019 and 2018. This is the same as those who applied as part of the 2020 intake.
Anyone wishing to sponsor a parent or grandparent under the PGP must meet the following criteria:
- be at least 18 years old;
- live in Canada;
- be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or be a person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act, and;
- have enough money to support the people you want to sponsor.
Those not lucky enough to receive an invitation should consider the Parents and Grandparents Super Visa, which allows a parent or grandparent to visit Canada for up to two years at a time. A super visa allows multiple entries for up to 10 years.