Canada immigration alert: Applications of parents and grandparents to be accepted soon

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Parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents will soon be able to apply for permanent residency again.

After two years of waiting, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will soon be able to sponsor their parents and grandparents once again.

The Canadian Government has announced that new applications for the parent and grandparent stream of the family sponsorship programme will be accepted from January 2, 2014.

Family Class sponsorship allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, dependent child(ren), parents and grandparents. Successful sponsored persons receive Canadian permanent residency.

Due to a backlog of applications and long processing times Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) stopped accepting applications for the parents and grandparents stream on November 5, 2011.

Since then, CIC has been pursuing the Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification, aiming to reduce the backlog. In 2012-2013 it admitted approximately 50,000 parents and grandparents as Canadian permanent residents. It also made permanent the Super Visa Programme, which allows parents and grandparents to enter Canada as long-term visitors.

For the intake of new applications in 2014 shorter processing times are anticipated. “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 programme,” Immigration Minister Jason Kenney was quoted as saying.

“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,” Kenney said.

A total of 50,000 applications will be accepted within a year and applicants will have to comply with a set of new criteria, which increase the financial responsibility of the sponsor.

The new qualifying criteria as announced on the CIC website are the following:

* Minimum necessary income (MNI) increased by 30 per cent

* Sponsors of parents and grandparents must make at least 30 per cent more than the standard MNI level. CIC believes the previous MNI level did not “accurately reflect the increased costs associated with being financially responsible for elderly parents and grandparents”.

* Lengthen period for demonstrating funds from one year to three

* Individuals must prove that they have been financially stable for a longer period of time. Evidence of income must be proven by documents issued by Canada Revenue Association (CRA): CRA notices of assessment will be the only means accepted for proof of income levels. This will help reduce application processing time, as all documents will be uniform.

* Extend sponsorship undertaking period to 20 years instead of 10

* Individuals who sponsor their parents and grandparents must accept an undertaking of financial responsibility for 20 years. This means that sponsors will be responsible for repaying any social assistance given to their parents or grandparents by a province for 20 years after they become permanent residents, as well as health care costs not covered by provincial health care.

* Accompanying dependents must be 18 or younger

* For all immigration programs, the maximum age of dependents will be reduced to 18 years or younger. Individuals of any age who are dependent due to physical or mental disability may still be included in applications.

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