Parent and Grandparent Immigration Program to Re-Open in 2014

Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced on Friday that it is re-opening the Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program in January 2014, with new financial requirements and responsibilities for sponsoring children and grandchildren

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced on Friday that it will lift the moratorium on new Parent and Grandparent (PGP) permanent resident applications on January 2, 2014.

The program has been closed to new applications since November 2011 to give CIC time to work down the mounting backlog of parent and grandparent sponsorship applications.

Commenting on the program re-opening, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said:

“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. 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.”

CIC also said that the total number of parents and grandparents admitted as permanent residents through 2012 and 2013 will be 50,000 which is the highest level in 20 years, and it intends on maintaining these levels in 2014.

Another change announced on Friday is the Super Visa program, while allows foreign parents and grandparents of Canadians to visit Canada for up to ten years, for two years at a time, becoming permanent. Over 15,000 Super Visas have been granted since the program started in December 2011.

With regard to the Parent and Grandparent sponsorship program, CIC says they plan on accepting 5,000 new applications in 2014, and continue to reduce the backlog by processing applications faster than receiving them.

New financial requirements for Parent and Grandparent sponsorships

When the Parent and Grandparent sponsorship program re-opens next year, it will be with new qualifying criteria which will increase the financial responsibility of sponsors to ensure their parents and grandparents can be supported for the remainder of their life in Canada and to reduce the likelihood they will increase expenses for Canada’s social welfare programs.

Minimum income for sponsors will increase from the current Minimum Necessary Income (MNI), an income threshold used by the federal government to establish eligibility in many programs, to Minimum Necessary Income + 30 percent, to account for the greater costs of supporting an elderly person.

The type of proof of income that CIC will accept will be limited to documents from the Canada Revenue Agency, and the length of time that a person applying to be a sponsor has to demonstrate that they met the minimum income requirements will be increased from the current one year to three years.

Kenney said these changes are necessary to protect Canadians from being burdened by higher taxes as a result of sponsors having inadequate financial resources to support their sponsored parents and grandparents:

“These new criteria ensure sponsored family members are well supported by their sponsors throughout their time in Canada. The redesigned Parent and Grandparent program reunites families faster while respecting Canadian taxpayers and the limited resources for health and social programs.”

CIC says that Canada is one of the few developed countries to allow grandparent sponsorship, with this option either not existing or being extremely limited in United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, and measures like those announced Friday are needed to prevent this generosity from being abused.

Age limit on Dependent Children sponsorship

The Dependent Children sponsorship program is also going to see maximum age limit of 19 years imposed, disqualifying those older than 19 years old from being considered dependent children even if they are full time students or financially dependent on their parents.

The change was made after research by CIC found that many of those qualifying as dependent children were in their late 20s or 30s, and that those who immigrate at an older age have a lower likelihood of successfully integrating into the Canadian labour market and have poorer socioeconomic outcomes than those who immigrate at a younger age.

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Family Class Immigration Increases by 15% in 2012

Family class permanent residence applications increased by 15 percent in 2012 over the year before according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced on Tuesday a 15 percent increase in the number of individuals admitted under the family class immigration program in 2012 over the year before.

In the announcement, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney promoted CIC’s faster processing of family class applications:

“By reducing the backlog through increased admissions, we have dramatically reduced wait times so that parents and grandparents no longer have to wait close to a decade to be reunited with their loved ones.”

The increase in admissions occurred despite CIC having stopped accepting new applications under the Parent and Grandparent stream of the family class program in November 2011. The moratorium on new Parent and Grandparent sponsorship applications likely contributed to the reduction in the program backlog.

CIC is targeting a 50 percent reduction in the family class application backlog and in the processing time of applications in 2013.

The department has been moving away from sponsorship of Parent and Grandparents for permanent residence, and moving toward extended temporary stays, with the creation of a new ‘Parent and Grandparent Super Visa’ in December 2011 that allows unlimited re-entries for parents and grandparents of Canadians for up to ten years, and allows them to stay in Canada for two years on each visit.

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Canadian Immigration Department Issues over 15,000 Super Visas Since Dec 2011

Parents and grandparents of permanent residents and citizens of Canada can visit Canada for up to ten years with a Parent and Grandparent Super Visa (Diego Grez)

The federal government has issued over 15,000 Parent and Grandparent Super Visas since the launch of the program in December 2011.

The visa replaces the prior Parent and Grandparent Family Class sponsorship stream, whereby Canadian permanent residents and citizens could sponsor their parents and grandparents for permanent residence.

Instead, the Super Visa gives holders multiple re-entries into Canada for up to ten years, and allows them to stay in Canada for up to two years on each stay, unlike other visitor visas which only allow a stay of up to six months each time.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) says that Super Visa applicants are required to prove they are financially self-sufficient, have comprehensive medical insurance during their stay in Canada, and have passed the medical check required of applicants for immigration to Canada, that verifies that the applicant has no costly medical conditions.

The acceptance rate for Super Visa applications is 86 percent according to CIC.

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Visitors and Students to Canada From India Booming According to Immigration Department

The Canadian High Commission in Chandigarh. The visa office has seen rapid growth in the number of study permits and visitor visas issued to Indian nationals in the region (GOOGLE MAPS)

The number of visitor visas the Canadian government issues in India’s Punjab region has increased by 300 percent from 2005 levels according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

CIC says that approximately 17,608 visitor visas were issued in 2012 by its Chandigarh office, which serves the Punjab region.

The growth in the number of Indian visitors to Canada has corresponded with the rapid growth of India’s economy and the emergence of an increasingly sizeable Indian middle class with the disposable income to travel abroad.

The number of student visas issued has seen an even more dramatic increase. According to CIC, 5,200 student permits were issued by the Chandigarh office in 2012, a more than 3000 percent increase from the 173 issued by the office in 2004 when it first opened.

At Friday’s press conference, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney lauded his department’s achievements in reducing processing times for visitor visas for Indian visitors, from 12-days for 80 percent of cases in 2011, to 5-days in 2012 for the same portion of cases.

He also celebrated an 80 percent approval rate for applications it received through the office for its new Parent and Grandparent Super Visa, which CIC introduced in December 2011 as a replacement for the parent and grand-parent sponsorship stream of the Family Class permanent residence immigration program.

The Super Visa grants parents and grand-parents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents permission to stay in Canada for up to ten years without the need to apply for extensions to their visa.

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Canadian Prime Minister Lays Out His Vision For Immigration To Canada

Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the Globe and Mail that Canada will need to compete for high value immigrants as other country look to immigration to solve their fiscal problems

In an interview on Saturday with the Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest national newspaper, Prime Minister Stephen Harper expounded in length on his vision for Canada’s immigration programs.

He told the Globe that competition for skilled international workers would heat up over the coming years, as “the demographic changes .. the aging population, start to bite, in many developed countries”.

He trumpeted his government’s achievements in reforming what he called the old “passive pro-immigration policy” which “operated on receiving applications and processing them in order” and had left his government with “backlogs of hundreds and hundreds of thousands of applications”.

He said his government is trying to shift to an “activist policy” where Canada goes out and recruits the immigrants it needs, and when it receives applications, “prioritize them to the country’s objectives.”

The Prime Minister said that as the rest of the developed world increases its immigration intake, Canada would need the activist immigration policy to “compete, and make sure we get the immigrants both in terms of volumes and particular attributes: skills, expertise and investment capacity.”

Under the Conservative government, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has legislatively wiped out the 280,000 application Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program backlog, and frozen acceptance of new applications under both the FSW program and the Federal Immigrant Investor program as it re-designs the programs and reduces the backlogs.

CIC has also suspended the parent and grandparent sponsorship programs and replaced them with a ‘Super Visa’ that allows foreign parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and landed immigrants to visit Canada for up to ten years.

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