Backgrounder — Phase I of Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification

To reduce the large backlog and lengthy wait times for parent and grandparent sponsorship, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has put together an action plan. The four points in Phase I of the Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification are as follows.

First: Increase the number of parents and grandparents accepted as permanent residents, from nearly 15,500 admissions in 2010 to 25,000 in 2012.

This sharp increase will help us significantly reduce the backlog of applications in this category. Increasing levels in this category means we can process more applicants who have been waiting patiently to join their families in Canada.

Increasing the number of parents and grandparents we welcome every year will not, as a measure on its own, address the enormity of the backlog. The Annual Immigration Plan establishes a range for the number of people who can come to Canada for all categories, including parents and grandparents. Most years, we receive many more applications than can be processed in order to respect the commitments in the Annual Immigration Plan. When that happens, a backlog is created and wait times grow.

Second: Parent and Grandparent Super Visas

Until now, a visitor could only come to Canada for up to six months at a time. Those who wanted to remain here longer than six months have had to pay a fee and apply for an extension. This is clearly not warranted for parents and grandparents because they are a low-risk group.

Today, the government announced the new Parent and Grandparent Super Visa, which will be valid for up to 10 years. The multiple entry visa will allow parents and grandparents to remain in Canada for up to 24 months at a time without having to renew their status. At the end of the 24 months, they can apply to extend their status for up to 24 months. These applications will be examined on a case by case basis.

The Parent and Grandparent Super Visa will come into effect on December 1, 2011, and CIC will be able to issue the visas, on average, within eight weeks of the application. This means that instead of waiting for eight years, a parent or a grandparent can come to Canada within about eight weeks.

To qualify, parents and grandparents must:

  1. undergo the Immigration Medical Examination;
  2. demonstrate that they have purchased private Canadian medical insurance; and
  3. provide a written commitment of financial support from a child or grandchild in Canada who meets a minimum income threshold.

Third: The government will consult Canadians on how to redesign the parents and grandparents program to ensure that it is sustainable in the future. The redesigned program must avoid future large backlogs and be sensitive to fiscal constraints.

Fourth: Addressing the backlog. The Department has had success in recent years in dealing with large backlogs and excessive wait times by introducing measures to adjust the number of new applications we accept.

A temporary pause of up to 24 months on the acceptance of new sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents will greatly support backlog reduction. The temporary pause is necessary to prevent the program from being flooded with new applications during the period of consultations, leading to a redesigned, faster and more sustainable parent and grandparent program. The pause comes into effect on November 5, 2011. Applications received at CIC’s Case Processing Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, prior to November 5th will continue to be processed under the current procedures. Applications received on or after November 5, 2011, will be returned in their entirety, including fees.

This temporary measure will not result in fewer parents and grandparents immigrating to Canada. Due to the large increase in planned admissions in 2012, the number of people admitted through the program will increase by over 60 percent, from nearly 15,500 in 2010 to about 25,000 in 2012. The government is committed to family reunification.

With projected 2012 levels of admission, those who applied in 2011 may wait up to seven years before having a decision on their application. Even with high admissions, those wait times would only continue to grow if we continued to accept applications at this time. Instead of having people apply today only to have their application completed in a decade, we are placing a temporary pause on new sponsorship applications until wait times are shorter and more manageable. The temporary pause will prevent the backlog from growing while new policy approaches for the category are examined.

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