BlogThe wait is over: parents and grandparents program returns

8 October 2020

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The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the Honourable Marco Mendicino, made a welcome announcement on Monday October 5th that the parents and grandparents (PGP) sponsorship program will be re-opening on October 13, 2020. Interested sponsors will have three weeks from October 13, 2020 to November 3, 2020 to register an online interest to sponsor form for a chance to bring their parents and grandparents to Canada as permanent residents.

Canadians and permanent residents have been anxiously awaiting news about the fate of the PGP program for the 2020 calendar year after it had been indefinitely suspended on March 27, 2020 to allow the government to focus its efforts on responding to the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some observers, like myself, were cautiously optimistic that the PGP program would open for business in 2020, even if in some limited capacity, because it is not only in the best interests of Canadians but also for the government to do so. Afterall, the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) sets annual immigration targets that will clearly not be reached this year due to COVID-19, and the complete shutdown of the PGP program for the 2020 calendar year would only increase the pressure on IRCC to process more cases in 2021. The PGP program has always been a hotly debated and popular immigration program in Canada, and the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has not curbed the collective enthusiasm of Canadians and permanent residents to use it.

The Minister’s announcement represents a compromise for all parties involved. By reopening the PGP program in 2020, the government has kept its promise to defer the start date of the PGP program this year and not cancel it altogether, even though as a nation we are continuing to work through this unprecedented health crisis and with concerns about a second wave already here. However, with less than three months left in the 2020 calendar year, it would also be unrealistic to think that business will go on as usual. Accordingly, only 10,000 sponsors will be chosen at random to receive invitations in 2020 to sponsor their parents and grandparents for permanent residency, which is down from the 20,000 cap set in 2019.

To make up for the significant drop in invitations in 2020, the Minister also concurrently announced that in 2021 IRCC will issue 30,000 new invitations, which will bring the two-year totals to 40,000. Furthermore, in recognition that many sponsors may have been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the income levels for 2020 that are normally needed to sponsor a parent or grandparent will be reduced by 30%.

Although the Minister’s announcement has been long awaited by prospective sponsors here in Canada and by their loved ones, with only one week before the launch of the 2020 PGP program interested families will want to start thinking about both the registration and application process as soon as possible. New instructions on how to register an online interest to sponsor form to join the 2020 lottery have already been posted to the IRCC website, and astute observers will notice that these are the same instructions that were posted for 2019.

In short, the PGP program is back! With a short turnaround time between the announcement of the re-opening of the program on October 5, 2020 and its start date on October 13, 2020, IRCC has chosen to revert to the familiar lottery system they relied on in both 2017 and 2018, while making use of the new improvements to the online registration system they developed in 2019.

Some Canadians and permanent residents will undoubtedly be disappointed that IRCC has not taken the opportunity to make any improvements to the PGP intake system or by their decision not to increase the total number of invitations they will issue, but IRCC deserves credit for keeping its promise to bring the PGP back in 2020.

As we move forward, the best that IRCC can do under these circumstances is to ensure that the 2020 PGP intake process is conducted efficiently and transparently. This is an unprecedented situation, given that the opening of the PGP program for 2020 is happening at the end of the calendar year and that the opening of the 2021 program could happen in the early part of 2021, which is customary.
We can only hope that IRCC will prioritize the smooth running of the 2020 PGP intake process so that the invitation and application process will be fully concluded before the 2021 process begins.

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