Sponsoring Parents and Grandparents to Immigrate to Canada
By: Matthew K. Rymer BA, JD
On January 28, 2019, the Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) opened at noon EST and quickly closed about 8 minutes later, leaving tens of thousands of would-be-sponsors frustrated, many of whom had presumably already tried and failed to be selected in previous years. The 2019 PGP was a race to fill out and submit an on-line interest to sponsor form. For those who were ready and waiting for the Program to open and did not have technical difficulties, it was a test of internet speed and typing speed.
What is the Parents and Grandparents Program? Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has created a program for eligible Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their parents and grandparents to immigrate to Canada. Each year only a fraction of those interested in sponsoring their parents and grandparents are invited to submit applications. This year over 100,000 people attempted to submit expressions of interest to the PGP and roughly 27,000 succeeded. Most of those who were successful will be invited to submit a sponsorship application (capped at 20,000 for 2019).
The “first-in” design of the 2019 PGP was chosen in response to criticism of the lottery system used in 2018. Why IRCC chose to abandon the lottery rather than improve it is not clear to me. I would suggest a return to the lottery for future programs with a modification that increases the odds of a person being selected based on the number of years that person has been in the selection pool. In order words, if I submit my expression of interest for the first time, I receive one entry into the draw. If I am not selected that year, I receive two entries the next year, increasing my odds of being selected. A future, improved lottery could also be refined to incorporate considerations of need and eligibility.
If you receive your invitation to apply
For those of you who successfully submitted an expression of interest, many of you will receive invitations to apply to sponsor your parents or grandparents. The invitations will be sent out by email and you will then have sixty days to submit your complete application. Note down the deadline stated on the invitation. Sixty days is not very much time, so I would strongly recommend downloading the application package (here), reading through the Document Checklist and gathering all of the required documents.
Remember to get translations of any documents not originally in English or French, preferably by a certified translator. If the translator is not certified in Canada, then the translator will need to include an affidavit swearing to the accuracy of the translation. For more information see the Instruction Guide (here).
If you are worried about meeting the financial requirements or other elements of eligibility, if you have other questions, or if you want assistance with your application, please contact Quantz Law to make an appointment.
If you were unsuccessful in submitting the expression of interest form
For those of you who were unsuccessful in submitting an expression of interest, there may be other options available. IRCC is promoting super visas as an alternative to sponsoring parents or grandparents for permanent resident status. A super visa is a multiple-entry visa that lets parents or grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents visit for up to two years at a time.
Super visas are available to parents and grandparents from visa-exempt countries as well, though successful applicants may also need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) if they are flying into Canada.
A super visa is not a true alternative to permanent residence status. Circumstances change as parents and grandparents age, including an eventual deterioration of health. If a serious illness develops, a person may become ineligible for permanent resident status. Temporary resident status is also easier to lose and a super visa does not permit work or study. With that said, super visas are a great way to bring parents and grandparents into Canada for extended visits.
Apart from the Parents and Grandparents Program there may be other ways for parents or grandparents to immigrate to Canada. Sometimes parents or grandparents have circumstances that would justify an application for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds (H&C). To be successful, an applicant must show a strong establishment in Canada and that they would face hardship if forced to leave Canada and return to the country of origin. H&C applications are meant to be used in exceptional situations, and I strongly recommend you speak with an immigration lawyer to discuss all of your options.
For many parents and grandparents, a super visa would be a good shorter term option while waiting for next year’s opportunity to get into the Parents and Grandparents Program. However, everyone’s situation is unique and there may be other options available. Consider making an appointment to discuss your options.
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NOTICE TO READER: The summaries of legal rights and remedies described above are general references to the Canadian laws existing at the date of the publication and may not apply to the reader’s individual circumstances. Also, the laws may change. These legal summaries are not to be relied upon as applicable to your individual circumstances and are subject to a complete review of the facts and applicable laws in every case.