August 23, 2017 – Canada’s Parent and Grandparent Super-Visa is extremely popular among seniors from all over the world wishing to visit their children here.
Figures show 89,000 parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents have been awarded visas since the system was set-up in 2012 under the previous Conservative government.
The program is designed to give relatives an alternative to applying for permanent residence. Many do not want permanent resident status, instead preferring the freedom of a Canada visa that allows them to stay for two years at a time and can be extended up to 10 years
It also means the Canadian system does not have to pay social costs associated with accepting elderly people as permanent residents and citizens.
Canada’s Parent and Grandparent Super-Visa: Eligibility
Firstly, the applicant must me eligible for a regular visitor visa. This means that besides being in good health and having a valid travel document, the applicant must satisfy a Canadian immigration official that they will willingly leave the country at the end of their authorized stay, that they have sufficient ties to their home country such as a job, family or property, and that they have sufficient funds available to support themselves for the length of their stay.
Additionally, the individual applicant must:
- Show that they are the parent or grandparent of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
- Obtain medical insurance from a Canadian insurance company that is valid for at least one year, providing a minimum coverage of $100,000 for health care, hospitalization and repatriation;
- Undergo a medical examination.
Finally, the applicant’s family member in Canada must:
- Demonstrate that they are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
- Provide the applicant with a letter of invitation. This is a letter that provides information about the applicant’s planned visit, about the child or grandchild’s occupation and economic situation in Canada. Most importantly, this letter must include a written and signed promise of financial support for the applicant for the duration of their visit;
- Demonstrate their income is above a predetermined minimum level: (Click here);
Although the offspring must commit to providing for their relative under the Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program, a significant number rely on Canada’s government healthcare system. The previous Conservative government claimed one in four went on to claim welfare after 10 years here.
The super-visa, therefore, provides a solution for both sides., requiring the parent or grandparent to purchase private healthcare to cover the time they spend in Canada.
More than a third of the super-visas awarded have gone to Indian citizens, a total of nearly 36,000, with China, Pakistan, Philippines and Bangladesh rounding out the top five source countries.
Experts say this is down to culture, with Asian families more likely to live together under one roof.
Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
As the super-visa thrives, the Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program, which offers permanent residence, continues to be mired in controversy.
The Liberal government doubled the intake to 10,000 a year when it came to power, but also introduced a lottery system it said would make the program fairer.
A huge 95,000 families put their names forward for the draw at the start of 2017, with 10,000 names drawn and invited to apply. However, under 1,000 applications had been received as of July 2017, forcing the IRCC to plan a second draw before the end of the year.
The IRCC changed the system for 2017 in an attempt to make it fairer. Previously, an application window would open in January and the first 10,000 received would be processed. This led to couriers lining up at processing centres and effectively meant all applicants required the help of a lawyer.
The first criticism of the IRCC change was that it was not announced until December 2016. Many families had already gone to the time and expense of preparing applications under the old system.
Then there was a feeling the method for entering the lottery did not go into enough detail. There are strict qualification requirements for the Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program, including on income of the sponsor and on health of the parent or grandparent. These requirements were not listed on the basic form for entering the lottery. It seems families entered without realising they would not be eligible.
‘Adjustments for Next Year’
The IRCC’s Nancy Caron admitted the process may have to be tweaked.
“We are continuing to monitor results and will make any necessary adjustments for next year,” she told the Observer.
“The previous system resulted in a backlog of applications which progressively got bigger year after year given the popularity of the program. We felt that it was unacceptable for people to wait many years to be reunited with their parents or grandparents. The fact is that caps are needed to prevent unmanageable backlogs and long processing times.
“With the new process, we are giving everyone the same opportunity to apply in the program. Therefore the new process is fairer and more transparent for everyone. With the new process, a person can wait to see if they are invited to apply before spending time and money to prepare and submit their sponsorship application.”
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