By Staff Reporter
Citizenship and Immigration Canada will re-open the Parent and Grandparent (PGP) program for new applications in January 2014, by which time the backlog and wait times in the program are expected to have been cut in half.
“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,” said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney. “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.”
Only 5,000 new applications will be taken in PGP sponsorship program in 2014. The Ministry has assumed that there will be two people per application, so the intake of parents and grandparents will be 10,000.
In an interview with Generation Next Minister Kenney stated that almost 90 per cent of these applicants are given permanent resident cards.
In making this announcement, Minister Kenney presented the context in which the decision to pause sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents was made, and how it has helped the government to cut the backlog, so that the wait times for processing parental and grandparental sponsorship applications have been reduced to about 3.5 years to four years.
According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s website, currently CIC is working on parental and grandparental sponsorship applications received between September 11, 2007 to November 17, 2009, and is issuing acknowledgement letters for applications received on April 29, 2011. These processing times are global and may vary from country to country.
As of Jan 2014, new criteria will be set in place for sponsorship of parental and grandparental applications. The criteria is stringent and requires families to be financially strong to be able to take care of their elders. This includes:
First – the threshold for minimum income required to sponsor parents or grandparents for a family of two has been increased by 30 per cent, so the family of two (husband and wife) that wishes to sponsor two parents must have an income of about $55,000.
Second – the 10 year undertaking of sponsored parents or grandparents has been increased from 10 years to 20 years.
In response to the question won’t there be a backlash from the community on these financial measures that the Government is undertaking, Minister Kenney said “no, I don’t think so.”
Minister Kenney explains that almost 66 per cent of first and second generation Canadians are not in favour of any parental or grandparental sponsorship program. And almost quarter of sponsored parents and grandparents are seeking welfare and subsidized housing after 10 years of their arrival in Canada. In addition to this the healthcare costs of sponsored parents or grandparents is almost $200,000. Canadian taxpayers’ have to fund these costs, but they shouldn’t have to as sponsoring families should be able to take care of them.
Third – Sponsoring families will have to provide three years’ of notice of assessments issued by Canada Revenue Agency to sponsor parents or grandparents rather than one year’s.
Minister Kenney says that there have been situations where families come into money one year and “then go back to being poor.” The Government wants to ensure that sponsoring families have “sustainable levels of income” to care for their elders rather than “to dump the cost .. onto taxpayers.”
Fourth – the definition of dependent child has been changed in immigration law to mean kids of 18 years of age.
Minister Kenney said that Canada welcomes young economic migrants, however they should apply on their own to come to Canada.
Minister Kenney has repeatedly said that Canada has welcomed a record number of parents and grandparents in 2012 and is on track to admit record number of parents and grandparents in 2013. Each year almost 25,000 of parents and grandparents entered Canada as permanent residents.
The Government is making ‘Super Visa” a permanent feature for families to take advantage of. Minister Kenney clarified that parents and grandparents whose sponsorship applications are in cue can also apply for Super Visa and obtain Super Visa to come to Canada while they wait for a final decision on their sponsorship application.
By 2015, Citizenship and Immigration Canada expects to have “a working inventory” whereby intake of applications may correspond to number of parents and grandparents being welcomed to Canada told Minister Kenney to Generation Next’s readers.
Canada has one of the most generous family reunification programs in the world. The United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand do not allow grandparents to be sponsored at all or only in very limited circumstances, and they have very restrictive criteria for the sponsorship of parents. Will Canada, at some point, consider doing the same given the enormous amount of resources that go into healthcare and other social services for elderly parents and grandparents?
” I actually considered doing that in these reforms,” says Citizenship and Immigration Minister. However, “only 1 per cent of the applicants in this category are grandparents .. and they are younger than what I thought .. so it was not worth the trouble at this point.”
Minister Kenney also reassures families whose applications are in cue with CIC that the new criteria will not impact the applications that are already in process. The new criteria will go in effect for applicants who will be applying as of Jan 2014.