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Bringing parents and grandparents to Canada

  • Sherif R. Ashamalla – Toronto Immigration & Refugee Lawyer


One of the first questions that many newcomers ask once they are settled in Canada is how they can bring their elderly parents from back home to be with them in Canada. Many parents are retired and living alone in Egypt when they could be here living with their children and helping in the care of their grandchildren. With the situation in Egypt deteriorating on a daily basis, this question is being asked by Canadian citizens and permanent residents at a more urgent rate.


Firstly, it should be noted that in an obvious attempt to cut the costs associated with admitting the elderly into Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) quite suddenly imposed a temporary pause on sponsorships for parents and grandparents effective November 5, 2011. In an effort to justify such a drastic move, the Federal Government has stated that halting these sponsorships for two years will allow CIC to cut backlogs and wait times for sponsored parents and grandparents whose applications have already been pending for years. However, this also means that families who have yet to submit their applications can expect to wait approximately two years before being able to do so.


At the same time, CIC introduced what is called the Super Visa which is only applicable for parents and grandparents. It is a new type of Temporary Resident Visa which can be valid for up to ten years. These visas allow for multiple entries during that time and applicants may remain in Canada for up to 24 months at a time. These new Super Visas have been introduced to assist with this sudden and extreme change to the family reunification system. By allowing parents and grandparents to pay multiple and lengthy visits to Canada, some individuals’ concerns may be addressed, for the time being. CIC has stated that Super Visas are being issued within eight weeks of application. Many families are hopeful that this may be the solution to the ongoing issue of having parents repeatedly denied visitor visas as a result of the turmoil in the Middle East. Under the current system, parents and grandparents are being told by their Canadian Embassy that there is little evidence that they would return to their country and so they are denied the visa.


To be eligible for the Super Visa, there are a variety of requirements, including proof of medical insurance and your income here in Canada. Unfortunately, due to the length of the visa, the associated costs of medical insurance may be prohibitive for many families. This factor alone may mean that the Super Visa will not be available to everyone.


Super Visa applicants must also have a written commitment of financial support from their child or grandchild in Canada, who must meet a minimum income threshold and must be either a permanent resident or Canadian citizen. In this respect, the child or grandchild will be assessed in a similar manner as the previous sponsorship requirements.


Another significant question is how these Super Visas will affect the acceptance rate of Humanitarian and Compassionate Applications submitted with the support of a Sponsorship. These are inland applications that provide another means for allowing parents and grandparents to be accepted permanently based on the hardship of having to apply from overseas. I will discuss this in great detail in the next issue.


Ultimately, it is clear that Super Visas have provided a clear means for some to be able to reunite with their family here in Canada according to the intentions of the government, while for others the Super Visa may just be yet another immigration tool that was not designed for them and is beyond their ability to truly utilize.



** UPDATE: since the writing of this article, CIC has announced the reopening of the Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program. Please see News Release of May 10, 2013.


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