Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) Minister Jason Kenney announced today that CIC will take immediate action to cut the backlog and wait times for sponsored parents and grandparents through a new “Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification”. Phase I of the Action Plan includes an increase next year in the number of admissions of sponsored parents and grandparents but also includes a “temporary pause” of up to 24 months on the acceptance of new sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents which comes into effect on November 5, 2011.
As described in CIC’s news release, the Action Plan (Phase I) involves the following four steps:
First – The Government of Canada will increase by over 60 percent the number of sponsored parents and grandparents Canada will admit next year, from nearly 15,500 in 2010 to 25,000 in 2012 – the highest level in nearly two decades.
Second – The government is introducing the new “Parent and Grandparent Super Visa,” which will be valid for up to 10 years. The multiple-entry visa will allow an applicant to remain in Canada for up to 24 months at a time without the need for renewal of their status. 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 eight weeks. Parent and Grandparent Super Visa applicants will be required to obtain private Canadian health-care insurance for their stay in Canada.
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 – To prevent the build-up of an unmanageable number of new applications during these consultations and to further reduce the 165,000-strong backlog of parent and grandparent applicants, CIC is putting in place a temporary pause of up to 24 months on the acceptance of new sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents. The pause comes into effect on November 5, 2011.
According to CIC’s backgrounder on the Action Plan, in order to qualify for the new Parent and Grandparent Super Visa, parents and grandparents must:
- undergo the Immigration Medical Examination (unless exempted);
- demonstrate that they have purchased private Canadian medical insurance; and
- provide a written commitment of financial support from a child or grandchild in Canada who meets a minimum income threshold.
According to the same backgrounder, the “temporary pause” on the acceptance of new sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents 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 backgrounder indicates that 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.
For further information on CIC’s new Action Plan or on the requirements and process generally in applying for permanent residence in the family class, please contact the immigration law specialists at Green and Spiegel LLP.