It has been two years since Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) stopped accepting applications under the Family Sponsorship program’s Parent and Grandparent Stream. On January 2, 2014, CIC will resume intake of applications from citizens and permanent residents who want to sponsor their grandparents and parents for permanent resident status.
Because of increasing backlogs, CIC ceased to accept applications for this stream in November 2011. When the stream reopens next year, CIC promises to process applications faster, owing to a significantly decreased backlog.
The Family Class Program
Under the Family Class sponsorship program, Canadian citizens and permanent residents may sponsor their family member such as their spouses, common-law or conjugal partners, dependent children, grandparents and parents. When approved, sponsored individuals will receive permanent resident status.
Canada is highly appreciated for its unique program that aims to unite families through a flexible grandparent and parent sponsorship stream. In the US, Australia, New Zealand and UK, this privilege is not offered to immigrants who may even be restricted from sponsoring their parents.
The 4-Step Action Plan
CIC has created a 4-step Action Plan which aims to shorten processing times. According to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, this plan has proven to be effective in allowing CIC to achieve its goals of reducing its backlog by half and limiting wait times.
The 4-Step Action Plan consists of Four parts:1 – Canada granted permanent residency status to around 50,000 grandparents and parents in 2012-2013, the highest number of applications it has approved in the last two decades. This step is greatly responsible for the decreased backlogs and processing times.
2 – The Super Visa program, a popular option for visiting parents and grandparents who want to stay longer in Canada, is now a permanent program. Since it was launched in December 2011, the government has granted more than 15,000 Super Visas.
3 – A new set of criteria will now be used to increase sponsors’ financial responsibilities. This is to ensure that they are capable of supporting their sponsored family members while easing the cost of healthcare and social services on the local public.
4 – In 2014, the number of applications to be received under the Parent and Grandparent sponsorship stream will be limited to 5,000.
New Criteria for Parents & Grandparents Sponsorship
In 2014, five additional qualifying criteria will be applied to the Family Sponsorship program, which will now place more weight on the financial capabilities of the sponsor citizen or immigrant.
1. Minimum necessary income (MNI)
The minimum income that a sponsor has to make in order to qualify has been raised by 30%. According to CIC, the previous minimum was insufficient to ensure that sponsored elderly grandparents and parents will receive enough financial support from their sponsors.
2. Period for proving financial capability
CIC has extended the period in which a sponsor must demonstrate financial stability from one to three years. Evidence will include Canada Revenue Association (CRA)-issued documents, such as notices of assessment which are the only accepted proof of a sponsor’s income level. The uniformity of these documents is expected to help shorten processing times.
3. Sponsorship undertaking
Sponsors must commit to financially support their grandparents and parents in Canada for a period of 20 years after they secure permanent resident status, including repayment of social assistance and the costs of healthcare incurred outside provincial provincial healthcare programs.
4. Maximum age of accompanying dependents
The maximum age for accompanying dependents is now 18 years, but dependents who are physically or mentally challenged may still be part of the application.
Minister Kenney affirms the government’s commitment to fast-track application processing, and vows that previous system, where waiting times could run up to ten years, is a thing of the past.