Canada is taking immediate action to cut the backlog and wait times for sponsored parents and grandparents.
Currently, more than 165,000 parents and grandparents who have applied to become permanent residents of Canada are still waiting for a final decision.
Each year, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) receives applications for sponsorship of nearly 38,000 parents and grandparents, a number that will only continue to expand if no action is taken.
“Wait times for Family Class sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents now exceed seven years, and without taking action, those times will continue to grow, and that is unacceptable,” said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney. “Action must be taken to cut the backlog, reduce the wait times, and ensure that the parents and grandparents program is sustainable over the long run.”
To deal with the large backlog and lengthy wait times, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is announcing phase one of the Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification.
First, the government will increase by over 60 per cent the number of sponsored parents and grandparents Canada will admit next year, from nearly 15,500 in 2010 to 25,000 in 2012 – the highest level in nearly two decades.
Second, the government is introducing the new Parent and Grandparent Super Visa, which will be valid for up to 10 years.
The multiple-entry visa will allow an applicant to remain in Canada for up to 24 months at a time without the need for renewal of their status.
The Parent and Grandparent Super Visa came into effect on December 1, 2011, and CIC will be able to issue the visas, on average, within eight weeks of the application.
This means that instead of waiting for eight years, a parent or a grandparent can come to Canada within eight weeks. Parent and Grandparent Super Visa applicants will be required to obtain private Canadian healthcare insurance for their stay in Canada.
Third, the government will consult Canadians on how to redesign the parents and grandparents program to ensure that it is sustainable in the future. The redesigned program must avoid future large backlogs and be sensitive to fiscal constraints.
Fourth, to prevent the buildup of an unmanageable number of new applications during these consultations and to further reduce the 165,000-strong backlog of parent and grandparent applicants, CIC is putting in place a temporary pause of up to 24 months on the acceptance of new sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents.
The pause came into effect on November 5, 2011.
“The government of Canada is fully committed to helping families reunite,” said Minister Kenney.
“We recognize that what parents and grandparents want most is to be able to spend time with their families,” he said.
“If we do not take real action now, the large and growing backlog in the parents and grandparents program will lead to completely unmanageable wait times.
“Through this balanced series of measures, we will be able to dramatically reduce the backlog and wait times, while the new Parent and Grandparent Super Visa will allow more family members to pay extended visits to their loved ones.
“We anticipate that in about two years, following our consultations, phase two of our Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification will come into effect, ensuring that future applicants are processed quickly and that the program can operate on an efficient and sustainable basis.”