Canada will be renewing the Parent and Grandparent program in their continual efforts to support family reunification. The program will start accepting new applications on January 2, 2014.
Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney insists, “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”. Kenney is hopeful of the program’s success, saying that “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 following changes have been created to improve the program:
First, the family reunification program will strive to retain high admission rates. The years 2012 and 2013 will welcome 50,000 parents and grandparents who applied for permanent resident permits in Canada. CIC will continue to maintain high levels of admission for parents and grandparent permanent resident applications in 2014, aiming to ultimately improve family reunification rates and cut down on the backlog of applications.
The second change announced is that the Super Visa will become a permanent program. The Super Visa allows foreign citizens with family residing in Canada to make several entries to Canada over a 10-year period. They are allowed to remain in Canada for up to two years per visit. Canada is much more welcoming to parents and grandparents who wish to visit family members for extended periods of time whereas countries such as New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States do not allow for family sponsorship at all or only unlimited circumstances. The family reunification super visa program has proven extremely popular, as over 15 000 have applied for the visa since its initiation in 2011.
Third, new qualifying criteria has been developed for sponsoring parents and grandparents for permanent residency in Canada in order to ensure that sponsors have financial means to support and take care of incoming relatives. These qualifications include:
- An increase in the minimum necessary income (MNI) by 30% as the current MNI does not accurately reflect the potential costs associated with the responsibility of financially supporting an elderly parent of grandparent.
- A lengthened period for demonstrating MNI from 1 year to 3 years. This will require that individuals show that they meet the new income threshold for 3 consecutive tax years prior to submitting the sponsorship application. Such a process will ensure income stability to confirm that sponsors can properly take care of their parents and grandparents.
- Provide evidence that they meet the new income threshold for three years consecutively by using documents issued by the Canada Revue Agency (CRA). With this in mind, the government hopes to streamline the process and further reduce backlogs by minimizing time spent reviewing documents.
- Extend the sponsorship undertaking period to 20 years instead of 10 years where individuals will be required to commit to a lengthened sponsorship. Sponsors will be responsible for repaying any provincial social assistance benefits paid to the parent and grandparent for 20 years in order to protect Canadian taxpayers.
- Changing the maximum age of dependants to 18 years of age and under for all immigration programs. This means that those over the age of 18 can apply to visit or immigrate to Canada independently (with an exception for individuals who are financially dependent on their parents do to mental or physical disability)
Finally, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has announced that the family reunification program will be accepting 5,000 applications in 2014. This level will help maintain high levels of admission and further reduce backlog and wait times. In previous years the program has been opened up to unlimited applications which only grew the backlog and increased wait times to unacceptable levels.
FWCanada is a Canadian immigration law firm that can assist in the process of applying for a permanent resident permit, especially for those geared toward CICs family reunification program. Please refer to our website or our twitter @FWCanada for future updates.