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Can I Sponsor My Parents and Grandparents?

I get a ton of interest from our clients wanting to bring their parents or grandparents to join them in Canada. This obviously makes a bunch of sense as who would not want to be together with their family, especially if you want the safety and security that you have just gained. So, let's get Mom & Dad over to Canada and discuss this more throughout this posting.

You can sponsor your parents and grandparents under the Family Class; however, this depends on whether you and your parents/grandparents are eligible. For you to be eligible to sponsor your parents and/or grandparents, you must be at least 18 years or older, be living in Canada, and a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident, or an Indian under the Indian Act. You must also be able to provide your proof of income to show that you can financially support whomever you choose to sponsor.

Please note that you cannot sponsor your parents or grandparents if you are under the age of 18, you do not plan to live in Canada when you sponsor your parents/grandparents and when they become permanent residents. You also may not apply to sponsor your parents or grandparents if you are a temporary resident (ie: if you are here on a tourist, work, or study permit).

There is also a requirement on your parents and grandparents to demonstrate good character, meaning that they cannot be incarcerated, they did not pay back an immigration loan or court-ordered child support. Your parents and grandparents must also have not declared bankruptcy, or they must not have received any social benefits other than a disability benefit. Your parents and grandparents must also not have been convicted of violent criminal offences inside or outside Canada. It is important that you give honest and accurate information when applying as penalties apply for misrepresentation of facts.

History of The Program

It is important that any discussion around this program be looked at historically so that you can understand not only this program but look and see what will happen in the future.

On November 5, 2011, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) temporarily halted all new applications for sponsorship of parents and grandparents for 24 months to introduce a much more “efficient” and long-term approach to a problem that had caused huge backlogs and long wait times. The wait times for the sponsorship of parents and grandparents were long and inefficient, therefore the Government of Canada announced changes to the program. The proposal put a cap of 5,000 applications per year for the sponsorship of parents and grandparents starting from January 2, 2014. The amendment was proposed to reduce wait times and backlogs in the future to make the program faster and more efficient.

The improved program puts more financial responsibilities on the sponsor to provide for their parents or grandparents. Under the amended regulations, the officers can request you to provide updated proof of income to ensure that you continuously meet the income threshold to sponsor your parents or grandparents. In the new criteria under the regulations, the period of the undertaking is extended to 20 years for sponsors of parents and grandparents. This means that the sponsor has financial obligations to provide for their parents or grandparents. The new criteria also increased the minimum necessary income to be able to sponsor.  Your evidence of income would also be limited to documents issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) which are known as Notice of Assessment. The changes to the regulations were made on December 12, 2013, when the Governor in Council approved the amended Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) regarding parents and grandparent’s sponsorship.

So, let's break all of that down. This program is very interesting and controversial all at the same time. I do not want to delve too deeply into this, but I do want you to understand a few things.

Elections
There is a trend that I have witnessed over the last decade where we will see the quota numbers jump in this program right around the time an election is announced. I know when I see these numbers go up substantially and followed by announcements then there will be an election. I can squarely point to Prime Minister Trudeau when he ran the second time to be the leader of Canada. He announced the election on a Sunday afternoon in Quebec and on Monday, the next day, the immigration minister was in Surrey, B.C. announcing that the quota was going to go up to record levels. Again in 2021, we saw this happen again with record numbers being announced prior to the election and anyone who knows me has heard me speak and go on about how an election is coming for sure.

So why is this the case? Simply and in my humble opinion, it is very politically motivated as a tool to pander for more votes. If you think about it, you need to meet a certain threshold to be able to sponsor and it takes up to 3 years which is in line with someone who would be interested in these type of sponsorship programs.

Parents haven’t paid into the system – why are we bringing them here?
I have heard many times from usually the misinformed people that why are we bringing people here to use the benefits when they haven’t paid into the system. Yes, I can understand on the surface why this opinion might exist but I am always very quick to interject.

Eligibility

Despite the program changing at almost every intake, mostly in the numbers and method of application, the eligibility generally stays the same.

Your parents or grandparents must be related to you by blood or adoption while at the same time you must be able to meet the income requirement discussed above. To be eligible to enter Canada, your parents and grandparents must go through medical exams, obtain police certificates, and complete biometrics. It is important to remember that your parents or grandparents might become inadmissible to enter Canada based on their medical exams or police certificates.

Medical inadmissibility might occur if your parents or grandparents are considered: a danger to public health, danger to public safety, or excessive demand on health care services. Danger to public health could be the result of infectious diseases and how those diseases could have an adverse impact on Canadians. Danger to public safety is determined by accessing violent or unpredictable behaviour. The factor of excessive demand for health care services is looked at by how much your health condition might put a strain on the health services. All these factors combined can make your parents or grandparents medically inadmissible. Police certificates are an important component to determine whether your parents or grandparents may be eligible. Reasons why your parents or grandparents might be inadmissible to Canada, might be because of security reasons based on violence or terrorism or due to human rights violations including war crimes and crimes against humanity.    

Funds to Sponsor your Parents and Grandparents

To sponsor your parents and grandparents, you must provide proof of income to show that you have the income to support your parents, grandparents and you and any dependents that you are responsible for as well.

You will be required to provide proof of income once you have been invited to apply to sponsor your parents or grandparents and you must meet the annual income requirements for 3 tax years before the date you apply. This means if you apply in 2020, you must provide a Notice of Assessment for years 2020, 2019, and 2018. Below is the breakdown of income requirements for the years 2020, 2019, and 2018: 

Total number of people you’re responsible for:

2020

2019

2018

2 people

$32,899

$41,007

$40,378

3 people

$40,445

$50,414

$49,641

4 people

$49,106

$61,209

$60,271

5 people

$55,695

$69,423

$68,358

6 people

$62,814

$78,296

$77,095

7 people

$69,935

$87,172

$85,835

If more than 7 people, add:

$7,121

$8,876

$8,740

Due to the impact of COVID-19 in 2020, the income requirement for 2020 is much lower than in previous years and the government has accounted for this. Please note that the process of sponsoring parents and grandparents is slightly different in Quebec where you will be required to sign an undertaking to financially provide for your parents or grandparents. For sponsorship of parents and grandparents in Quebec, you do not need to provide a Notice of Assessment for previous years. You will be required to prove that you have enough income to support your parents or grandparents and yourself.

Alternatives

There are other alternatives to bring your parents and grandparents to Canada permanently under a family option, but they could look at a business or investor option should they have the ability to make it through one of the many economic programs.

If your goal is to be reunited and live for longer periods of time, then another alternative is the Super Visa option. A Super Visa lets applicants (your parents and grandparents) visit their children or grandchildren in Canada for up to 2 years. The Super Visa is a multi-entry visa meaning that you can enter Canada multiple times until your visa expires. Super Visa is generally valid for up to 10 years and you are subject to multi-entry into Canada within 10 years. The fee for applying for Super Visa is $100 CAD. The processing time compared to other immigration applications is much faster as most super visas are approved within a few weeks, however processing times do depend on your parents’ and grandparents’ country of origin.

To be eligible, you must be a parent or a grandparent of a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada. You must also have a signed letter from your child or grandchild inviting you to Canada and the letter must include the promise for financial support, the number of people in the household, and a copy of the sponsor’s citizenship or permanent residence document. 

The eligibility threshold is much harder to meet as you are required to have medical insurance from a Canadian insurance company. Your insurance policy must be valid for 1 year from the date you enter Canada, and it must have at least $100,000. It is to be noted that you cannot include any dependants in your application.

Additionally, the person who invited you to Canada must provide their Notice of Assessment, employment insurance stubs, employment letter which includes salary, pay stubs, and bank statements to show that they meet the minimum necessary income threshold. Super Visa might not be a great route for many to follow to bring their parents and grandparents to Canada as the eligibility criteria can be very costly. The expense of insurance alone can persuade sponsors to look at other programs to invite their parents and grandparents such as a regular Temporary Resident Visa and then extending this in Canada with a Visitor Record should the person wish to stay.

A Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) which is commonly referred to as a “Tourist Visa” is an official document that shows that you have met the requirements to be a temporary resident in Canada. To qualify for TRV, your parents and grandparents must: agree to leave Canada at the end of their stay, show that they have enough funds to maintain themselves in Canada, show that they have an intention to return to their country of origin, that they do not intend to work or study in Canada unless authorized, not have a criminal record, be in good health and provide any documents requested by the officer to establish admissibility.

The important aspect of the TRV is that you must leave Canada at the end of the visa, and it is not your right to be in Canada, but a privilege. TRV just like the super visa is only valid for a certain period of time. Your parents and grandparents will have to leave Canada and apply for a super visa and TRV. None of these options is a permanent solution for your parents and grandparents to move and settle in Canada.

Newest Update:

On July 20th, 2021, it was announced that IRCC will invite a record number of people to apply under the Parent-Grandparent Sponsorship Program for the 2021 intake! IRCC will accept 10,000 applications from 2020 and invite 30,000 additional applications for 2021. The selection process will continue to be at random and invitations to apply will begin on September 20th for two weeks.

Considering the pandemic, the minimum income requirement will continue without the 30% additional income. This will ensure applicants are not penalized for losing income caused by the pandemic. The government is committed to reuniting families so they can thrive in Canada, together. Especially during the pandemic, family is more important than ever.

Final Thoughts

You have multiple options to choose from if you want to invite your parents and grandparents to join you in Canada. Family class sponsorship allows your parents and grandparents to settle in Canada with you and while this is a permanent process, and well worth the try, you need to make sure that you are able to meet all the requirements, should you get one of these coveted spots in the quota while at the same time

Overall, the process of bringing parents and grandparents has been beneficial for families who took the initiative. It has been shown to support family structure and bring families together. Parents and grandparents take care of their children or grandchildren while others are working making a much efficient family dynamic. Parents and grandparents also spend money in Canada which boosts the Canadian economy showing how successful the programs can be for Canada. 


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