New Parent and Grandparent program re-opens January 2, 2014
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will re-open the Parent and Grandparent (PGP) program for new applications on January 2, 2014, by which time the backlog and wait times in the program are expected to have been cut in half.
The new qualifying criteria are aimed at ensuring 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. CIC has long time argued that he current MNI does not accurately reflect the increased costs associated with being financially responsible for elderly parents and grandparents. The proposed increase in the MNI seeks to ensure that sponsors are able to meet the financial needs of their sponsored parents and grandparents, which will reduce the net costs to Canadian taxpayers. It must be noted that the new MNI requirement does not affect the sponsorship applications filed in Quebec, but chances are that the Quebec government will adjust its own financial criteria to those announced by the federals.
- Lengthen period for demonstrating the MNI from one year to three years: Individuals who intend 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 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. However, the current second exception regarding dependents over the age of majority who are continuously enrolled in an educational program will disappear.
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.
The amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations that are being proposed will be pre-published in the Canada Gazette (Part I) and the public will be able to comment for a 30-day period.