With the backlog and wait times being cut in half, Phase II of that Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification will build on that success with further backlog reduction and even faster processing times.
First: Maintain high admissions
In 2012 and 2013, Canada will admit 50,000 parents and grandparents. This represents the highest level in 20 years. In 2014, Canada will maintain high levels of admissions for parents and grandparents.
This will help reunite more families and enable further backlog reduction.
Second: Make the Super Visa a permanent program
The Super Visa will become a permanent program and will continue to provide flexibility for families who can access the 10-year multiple-entry visa that allows parents and grandparents to remain in Canada up to two years at a time. The Super Visa is very popular. Over 1,000 Super Visas are issued each month, with over 15,000 Super Visas issued since its launch in December 2011 and approval rates remain high at 86 percent.
Third: New qualifying criteria for permanent residency sponsorship
New qualifying criteria ensure that sponsors have the financial means to support parents and grandparents, while reducing the net costs to Canadian taxpayers by leading to less reliance on health care and social programs.
The new qualifying criteria include:
- Increase minimum necessary income (MNI) for sponsoring parents and grandparents equivalent by 30 percent: The current MNI does not accurately reflect the increased costs associated with being financially responsible for elderly parents and grandparents. The modest increase in the MNI will ensure sponsors are able to meet the financial needs of their sponsored parents and grandparents, which will reduce the net costs to Canadian taxpayers.
- Lengthen period for demonstrating the MNI from one year to three years: Individuals who seek to sponsor their parents and grandparents and their accompanying family members will be required to demonstrate that they meet the new income threshold for the three consecutive tax years prior to submitting the sponsorship application. Requiring prospective sponsors of parents and grandparents to provide evidence of income over a three-year period, as opposed to 12 months, will help ensure sponsors have income stability and the financial means to provide for the basic needs of their parents and grandparents. It will also guarantee that prospective sponsors are contributing to the public services their sponsored family members are likely to use (for example, provincial health care, public transportation, etc.).
- Evidence of income confined to documents issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA): Individuals who seek to sponsor their parents and grandparents and their accompanying family members will be required to demonstrate that they meet the new income threshold for three consecutive years using CRA notices of assessment. This will mean that officials could spend less time reviewing and verifying documents and could help speed up processing times even further. It will also guarantee that prospective sponsors are contributing to the public services their sponsored family members are likely to use (for example, provincial health care, public transportation, etc.).
- Extend the sponsorship undertaking period to 20 years instead of 10 years: The current sponsorship undertaking period for parents and grandparents is 10 years. Individuals who seek to sponsor their parents and grandparents and accompanying family members will be required to commit to a lengthened sponsorship undertaking period of 20 years. This means sponsors and co-signers (if applicable) will be responsible for repaying any provincial social assistance benefits paid to the parent and grandparent and their accompanying family members for 20 years. A lengthened sponsorship undertaking will protect Canadian taxpayers and ensure sponsors assume more financial responsibility for the basic needs of their parents and grandparents over a longer period of time, as well as for health care costs not covered by provincial health care (for example, eye care, dental care, mobility aids, etc.).
- Changing the maximum age of dependents: The maximum age of dependents will be set at 18 years of age and under for all immigration programs, including the Parent and Grandparent program. This is in line with the standard age of majority in Canada. Those over the age of 18 can apply to visit or immigrate to Canada independently. There will be an exception for individuals, regardless of age, who are financially dependent on their parents due to a mental or physical disability.
Fourth: Accepting 5,000 applications in 2014
By accepting 5,000 applications in 2014 while maintaining high levels of admissions of parents and grandparents, the government will be able to further reduce the remaining backlog so that families can be reunited even more quickly. Opening the program to an unlimited number of applications as was done in the past will grow the backlog again and increase wait times, undoing the progress made to date.
For additional information on the proposal to redesign of the PGP program, please consult the draft regulatory package.