Posted on - Jul 07, 2013

By Catherine Sas, Q.C.

Catherine Sas Q.C.

On May 10, 2013, the Minister of Immigration announced that the family class sponsorship program for parents and grandparents would be re-opening on January 2, 2014. In making this announcement Immigration Minister Jason Kenney stated:

“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.”

At the time the program was frozen, there was a backlog of approximately 165,000 cases pending for consideration and processing levels at that time were 15,000 applications per year. In November of 2011 Minister Kenney increased the processing levels to 25,000 parent and grandparent applications per year and also introduced the new Super Visa to allow parents and grandparents to come to Canada on a more flexible basis for up to 10 years and allow individuals to stay in Canada for up to 2 years at a time. The Minister’s recent announcement introduces Phase 2 of the “Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification” and is targeting even faster processing times to avoid further backlogs in the future, and ensure that Canadian families have the sufficient financial resources to support their family members for a longer period of time. This second phase of the “Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification” features the following:

  1. Processing levels increase. While Phase 1 of the program saw processing levels for parents and grandparents increase from 15,000 to 25,000 per year, in Phase 2 these levels will increase to 50,000 parents and grandparents per year for 2012 and 2013 with a further commitment that processing levels will remain high for parents and grandparents in 2014. The objective of these increased processing levels is to eliminate the outstanding backlog of applications. It is anticipated that as the backlog is eliminated, projected targets will stabilize to a higher standard annual level (more than 5000 applications per year), but that the specified higher levels for 2014 will allow for flexibility in maintaining high targets to completely resolve the backlog of applications.
  2. The Super Visa is here to stay: The super visa will become a permanent program allowing applicants to obtain a 10 year multiple entry visa and remain in Canada for up to 2 years at a time. This program has been very successful having welcomed over 15,000 parents and grandparents with super visas since it’s launch in December of 2011 and with an overall approval rate of 86%.
  3. Program Criteria Change: The qualifying criteria for sponsors of parents and grandparents will change increasing the necessary financial ability of sponsors in order to ensure they have the financial ability to provide for their sponsored family members for a longer period of time. The key changes to the program criteria are as follows:
    • Increase the minimum necessary income (MNI) for sponsoring parents and grandparents by 30% from current levels.
    • Lengthen the period necessary for demonstrating minimum necessary income (MNI) from 1 year to 3 years.
    • Evidence of income will be confined to documents issued by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
    • Extend the sponsorship undertaking period from 10 years to 20 years.
    • Change the maximum age for accompanying dependents to 18 years in all application categories.

It is important to note that these are proposed changes only and have not yet been passed into law. They have been introduced several months in advance of the proposed start date of January 2, 2014 to allow for full public discussion of the potential impact of these changes. The good news is that the program will be re-opening in the coming year continuing Canada’s tradition of supporting family reunification.

Catherine Sas, Q.C. is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada. Catherine has been practicing law for over 25 years, and has been voted Vancouver’s Best Immigration Lawyer by the Georgia Straight newspaper for 6 consecutive years.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Catherine Sas or call her at 1-604-689-5444.

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