Parents And Grandparents: What Are Canada’s Immigration Options?

Parents And Grandparents: What Are Canada's Immigration Options?
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Canada immigration news: Parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens or permanent residents can now immigrate more easily and seamlessly to Canada with the extension of the Parents and Grandparents Super Visa to up to seven years.

Under the Parents and Grandparents (PGP) immigration program, Canada welcomed 11,730 new permanent residents last year, up 12.2 per cent from the 10,455 in 2020.

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That popular immigration program allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents outside Quebec to sponsor their parents and grandparents to become permanent residents of Canada.

Canada Hoping To Re-Unite 25,000 Parents And Grandparents With Their Families This Year

Ottawa’s Immigration Levels Plan for 2022-2024 targets an intake of 25,000 new permanent residents under the PGP this year, 28,500 next year, and 32,000 in 2024. 

Those are ambitious targets. In the last six years, the greatest number of new permanent residents who came to Canada under that program was in 2019, the last full year before the COVID-19 pandemic, when it allowed 22,010 foreign nationals to get their permanent residence in Canada.

The number of new permanent residents under the PGP had by then been seesawing up and down for four years but was gradually on the rise from 2016 when 17,040 came to Canada under the program through to 2019.

Border and other travel restrictions due to the pandemic slowed immigration to a trickle in 2020 and the PGP saw 52.5 per cent fewer new permanent residents to Canada that year, only 10,455 compared to the 22,010 the previous year.

The PGP operates on a lottery system, with citizens and permanent residents submitting an Interest to Sponsor form and being placed in a pool. IRCC then makes random draws from the pool and issues Invitations to Apply (ITAs).

Sponsors and their parents and grandparents then have 60 days to submit a full application.

The sponsors have to:

  • be at least 18 years old;
  • live in Canada;
  • be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or a person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act, and;
  • have enough money to support those they want to sponsor by meeting minimum income requirements for the previous three years. Candidates can include a co-signer in their application, allowing the combined income to be considered.

Sponsors Must Agree To Support Their Parents Or Grandparents For 20 Years

Those sponsors agree to financially support the parent or grandparent for 20 years from the date they are approved for permanent residence and to reimburse the government for any social assistance paid out to the parent or grandparent during that time.

Sponsors who live in Quebec must meet the Quebec immigration sponsorship requirements after being approved as a sponsor by IRCC. The Ministry of Immigration, Francisation and Integration (MIFI) also assess the sponsor’s income and requires an undertaking to be signed. 

Citizens and permanent residents can sponsor their own parents and grandparents, related by blood or adoption. And, in cases of divorce or separation, the spouses or common-law partners of parents and grandparents are also eligible.

A sponsor’s brothers and sisters, or half brothers and sisters, are only eligible if they qualify as dependent children.

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More than one person or couple can be sponsors if the financial requirements are met.

With a backlog of immigration applications of roughly 2.1 million at the start of May, though, delays in processing applications have led many to grow impatient with the PGP – and frustrated when their parents or grandparents are not picked in the random draws.

On Twitter, one user complained about the perceived lack of accessibility to the program.

“The current lottery system is not fair,” he wrote. “It’s been four years. My parents didn’t get their name on the draw. Luck should not be only criteria.”

Many others share that sentiment.

“Instead of random draws, let everyone apply and be in a queue,” tweeted another user. “At least we will know we are waiting for something at a certain time frame.”

Parents And Grandparents Super Visa Allows Much Longer Stays

Given the delays and the element of luck in the draws, many who want to sponsor their parents or grandparents have turned to the Parents and Grandparents Super Visa.

Under changes to that visa program that takes effect on July 4, the length of stay for Super Visa holders is being increased to five years, with the option to request an additional two years while in Canada.

Ottawa is also going to start allowing international medical insurance companies to provide coverage to Super Visa candidates. Under the current rules, only Canadian companies can provide the coverage, required so that Super Visa holders can receive emergency health care without any cost to Canadian taxpayers.

“The enhancements to the Super Visa program allow family members to reunite for longer in Canada, which helps everyday Canadian citizens and permanent residents succeed and contribute to society while affording their parents and grandparents invaluable opportunities to spend time with their family,” said Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.

Canada’s multiple-entry Super Visa, first made available in 2011, is valid for 10 years and previously allowed candidates to stay for up to two years per visit. Under a regular multiple-entry visit visa, that period is usually six months or less.

The child or grandchild of the candidate in Canada must meet minimum income requirements to support the visa holder.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) say it issues about 17,000 Super Visas per year.

The visa is an important alternative to the PGP which is regularly massively oversubscribed and operates using a lottery process, leaving many wondering if they will ever have the option of bringing their family members to Canada.

Many Turns To Super Visa To Bring Parents And Grandparents To Canada Sooner

Applications for the Super Visa must be made to a visa office outside of Canada. 

The applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • the applicant must be eligible for a regular visitor visa. This means that besides being in good health and having a valid travel document, the applicant must satisfy a Canadian immigration official that they will willingly leave the country at the end of their authorized stay, and that they have sufficient ties to their home country such as a job, family or property, and that they have sufficient funds available to support themselves for the length of their stay.
  • show that they are the parent or grandparent of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
  • obtain medical insurance from a Canadian insurance company (or designated international companies from July 4, 2022) that is valid for at least one year, providing a minimum coverage of $100,000 for health care, hospitalization and repatriation, and;
  • undergo a medical examination.

The applicant’s family member in Canada must:

  • demonstrate that they are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
  • provide the applicant with a letter of invitation which provides information about the applicant’s planned visit, about the child or grandchild’s occupation and the economic situation in Canada. Most importantly, this letter must include a written and signed promise of financial support for the applicant for the duration of their visit, and;
  • demonstrate their income is above a predetermined minimum level.

The Parents and Grandparents Super Visa allows those family members to join their children or grandchildren in Canada and live in the country while waiting to be selected for permanent residence under the PGP.

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