At the recent Canadian Bar Association (Immigration Section) conference, a representative of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) stated that the department may conduct a further invitation round to invite more individuals to submit an application for the sponsorship of parents and grandparents to immigrate to Canada through the Parent and Grandparent Program (PGP). If IRCC decides to conduct a second draw, it may occur in the coming months.
In January 2017, IRCC implemented a new approach to receiving applications from Canadian citizens and permanent residents wishing to sponsor their parents or grandparents to come to Canada. An Interest to Sponsor form was introduced, allowing individuals to indicate their interest in sponsoring their parents and grandparents, and enter for a chance to be randomly selected to apply.
Individuals who submitted a form online between January 3 and February 2 entered a pool of candidates. On April 25, IRCC announced it had randomly selected 10,000 potential sponsors from this pool of approximately 95,000 individuals, and invited them to submit a sponsorship application. Invited individuals have 90 days from the receipt of the invitation to submit a complete application.
The IRCC representative confirmed that as of Thursday June 8, only 700 applications had been received from invited possible sponsors, of which 15 percent were incomplete.
“If the department does not receive the 10,000 new applications within the stipulated timeframe, additional persons will be invited to apply [from] a randomized list of Interest to Sponsor submissions,” another IRCC spokesperson said. “If we don’t receive complete applications we will go back and draw from that existing list.”
Previously, IRCC had clarified that those individuals who did not receive an invitation on the first occasion would have the option to indicate their interest in applying again in 2018. However, these individuals may now have renewed hope as IRCC has stated it will invite more sponsors from the existing pool of those who had already submitted an Interest to Sponsor form between January 3 and February 2, if it is determined that further places are available for the 2017 target.
“Probably in August or September we’ll take a tally and see how many more spaces are left in the 10,000 cap, and there’ll be another round of people invited to apply,” the IRCC representative said.
Prior to 2017, paper-based applications to the PGP were received on a first-come, first-served basis during dedicated intake periods. IRCC noted that stakeholders raised concerns with the fairness of this approach, as many individuals reported paying large amounts of money to couriers in an attempt to get their application to the front of the line for the program. In response, IRCC introduced the randomized selection intake management process and the Interest to Sponsor form.
In addition to improving the impartiality of the application process, IRCC has had considerable success in clearing a backlog of sponsorship applications dating back to 2011. According to the June 2016 ‘Lexbase’ compilation of Canadian immigration information, as of May 9, 2017 the backlog of applications for parent and grandparent sponsorship was approximately 29,600 individuals, down from more than 165,000 individuals in 2011.
In November 2011, IRCC — then under the name Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) — put a pause on applications for parent and grandparent sponsorship, in order to manage the backlog. One month later, in December 2011, the Super Visa was introduced. This multiple-entry visitor visa provides a way for parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents to reside in Canada for up to two years on the initial entry to Canada, and is valid for 10 years.
The PGP was reopened in 2014 with a cap of 5,000 applications. To reflect their key commitment to family reunification, the Liberal government raised the intake cap in 2016 to 10,000 applications. It is expected that this target will result in around 17,000 sponsored persons, as up to two people may be sponsored in the application.
IRCC has a target to welcome 20,000 parents and grandparents as new permanent residents in 2017. As the target for 2017 is 10,000 applications, there are spaces remaining in order to allow IRCC to continue to clear the backlog of applications from previous years.
“Individuals looking to bring their loved ones to Canada are likely to be extremely encouraged by this news,” says Attorney David Cohen. “While the randomized selection system may be frustrating to those who were not initially invited to submit an application, it appears these individuals will now have another chance at reuniting their families.
“I congratulate IRCC on their adaptability and reaction to this frankly surprising result of 700 applications received so far. I would encourage all eligible individuals who have submitted an Interest to Sponsor form to begin preparing their applications without delay, in order to ensure they have a complete application ready if a future draw occurs.”
Individuals wishing to sponsor their parent/s or grandparent/s must meet certain eligibility requirements. The sponsor and the sponsored relatives sign an agreement to state that the sponsor commits to supporting the relative financially, and the sponsored person commits to make every effort to support themselves. In addition, PGP sponsors must:
At this time, it remains unknown whether these criteria will remain the same for the next application cycle.