Canada Lifts Freeze on Parent, Grandparent Visa

GrandparentCitizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has reopened its Parent and Grandparent Program (PGP) as of January 2, 2014, and over the coming year will accept immigration sponsorship applications of 5,000 parents and grandparents of Canadian immigrants.

The acceptance of new PGP immigration sponsorships is a policy change from the recent freeze of new PGP sponsorships that had been in effect since 2011. The CIC believes that by accepting only 5,000 new PGP sponsorships in 2014 it will be able to lessen the current backlog of prior applications.

When the freeze on new PGP sponsorships was introduced in 2011, the backlog of sponsorships was estimated to be over 165,000 applications.

In defending its policy, the CIC points out that several Western countries—including the United States, Australia and New Zealand—do not allow immigrants to sponsor grandparents at all, unless under exceptional circumstances.

Despite the freeze on the number of parents and grandparents of new immigrants in recent years, the CIC points out that in 2012/2013 Canada admitted an estimated 50,000 parents and grandparents as permanent residents. However, the CIC also tightened the criteria for immigrants wishing to sponsor parents and grandparents. These recent changes include:

  • An increase of 30 percent in the Minimum Necessary Income (MNI) for sponsoring an immigrant’s parents or grandparents
  • Lengthening the period for demonstrating the MNI for PGP sponsorship from one to three consecutive tax years, using only Canada Revenue Agency documents as proof of income
  • Extending the mandatory sponsorship period to 20 years instead of the previous 10.

Although it remains to be seen what long term effects the recent changes to the PGP sponsorship program may have, the CIC claims that the recent freezes–and revisions–have already reduced by half the backlog of applications and wait times.