Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has welcomed the new year by reopening the door to 5,000 new sponsorship applications under the Parent and Grandparent (PGP) program. The Canadian government had frozen applications in 2011 in order to address a substantial backlog that had increased wait times to up to eight years. As of January 2, 2014, Canadian citizens and permanent residents can submit their applications to sponsor foreign parents and grandparents.
However, while reopening of the Parent and Grandparent (PGP) program, CIC has also modified the criteria of eligibility, generally increasing the minimum threshold necessary to demonstrate that the sponsoring applicant has the financial capacity to fully support his parent or grandparent. These new measures seek to ensure that the applicant will not require social assistance from the Canadian government in the future. Firstly, the minimum required income for sponsoring relatives has increased by 30 per cent from the previous demand. Secondly, Candidates now need to demonstrate that they have met this new minimum income threshold for at least three years prior to their application, as opposed to the 12 months that used to be required. Finally, sponsoring candidates must attest that they will support their parents and grandparents for a minimum period of 20 years, an increased from the 10 years previously requested.
Critics of the new criteria point out the general message of mistrust that is being sent by the Canadian government, which runs contrary to Canada’s long standing welcoming and humanitarian image, and might ultimately deter productive immigrants with family dependants from immigrating to the country. Similarly, Andrew Cash, an NYPD critic of the program changes claims that the application cap set by CIC is too low and will not be able to meet the current demand. “chances are if you’re currently waiting to be reunited with your loved ones here in Canada, you’re going to continue to be left in the dark,” he told CBC. “After a two-year moratorium, we expect the 5,000 application cap to be met very quickly.”
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander counters these criticisms saying that rather than deterring and disabling applicants, the new changes merely “ensure that families have the financial means to support those they sponsor, while also protecting the interests of taxpayers.”
Given the high demand and the rather small cap of accepted applications, it is advised that prospective applicants submit their application as soon as possible, and that they seek professional legal advice if necessary in order to send an effective and complete application. Parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens or permanent residents are also eligible to visit their family members for a period of up to two years through the Super Visa program, which continues to accept applications and is now a permanent government program. According to the latest statistics, approval rates for Super Visas average 86 per cent.
For further information on the requirements and processing times for the Parent and Grandparent reunification program, please consult Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification.
FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For more tips and updates on Canadian immigration, follow FWCanada on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.