There is no doubt that Canada is home to many individuals and families who have been separated from their parents and other family members for a long time and who long to see them again, and show them what their lives here are like. They may have come here for employment opportunities, or maybe they were sponsored to come here by their Canadian spouse, or maybe they came a refugee either recently or a long time ago. Now, they hope to reunite with their parents or grandparents and have them come to Canada also. So, what are the options?
People may be familiar with the parent/grandparent sponsorship process for permanent residence. With this, the Canadian child or grandchild applies to sponsor their parent(s) or grandparent(s), and if their application is successful (after a very long processing period), their loved one can join them in Canada as a permanent resident, enjoying many of the same freedoms that they themselves have gained here.
Unfortunately, over the past several years, the great desire of new Canadians or permanent residents to invite their parents to Canada resulted in large backlogs, and extremely long processing times, to the point that these sponsorship applications were suspended for a number of years. Finally, in 2014, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) re-opened this sponsorship opportunity, but they imposed several restrictions, including a cap on the number of applications to be accepted each year. Processing times remain long, which means people are still having to wait far too long to see their loved ones. In some cases, this may mean that parents or grandparents could even pass away or become too infirm to travel before they get the chance to see their families again.
In response to this, and in keeping with IRCC’s stated goals of promoting family reunification, it introduced the Parent or Grandparent Super Visa, which is a special form of temporary resident visa to allow parents or grandparents of Canadians or permanent residents to come visit in Canada with their children and/or grandchildren for an extended period of time. What makes this Super Visa distinct is that the parent or grandparent would be authorized to stay in Canada for up to two years at a time when they visit, instead of the standard maximum allowable time of 6 months for other visitors. This does not allow the parent or grandparent to work while in Canada, but allows for meaningful reunion with their families without the need to worry as much about their departure happening so quickly.
Some of the important features and requirements of the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa are as follows:
- Temporary Resident Visa can be issued for up to 10 years validity (meaning the person can travel back and forth to Canada freely without having to apply for a new visa for up to 10 years; each time they enter Canada they may be permitted to stay up to 2 years at a time);
- Temporary residents in Canada (workers, students, visitors) are not eligible to have their parents or grandparents come to Canada on this Super Visa, only permanent residents or citizens
- The child or grandchild must meet a minimum income threshold, proving they have met a certain annual income prior to applying, which shows they can support their family members – they will have to write a “letter of invitation” setting out their financial circumstances, reason for the visit, etc.
- The parent or grandparent must have special, pre-paid travel medical insurance set up at the time the application is submitted (a simple internet search for “Canada super visa medical insurance” will net many results for available options)
- The parent or grandparent must not be otherwise inadmissible to Canada for things such as criminality, security reasons, previous misrepresentation, or infectious medical conditions (they must undergo a medical exam as part of the application process)
- Even parents who come from “visa exempt” countries (people who do not need to first apply for a Temporary Resident Visa before entering Canada) may apply for the Super Visa
- People who have already applied to permanently sponsor their parents or grandparents could also apply for the Super Visa – there is no requirement to only choose one or the other
- No other dependents may be included in the application; only parents or grandparents and their spouse or common-law partner (ie: if the parents still have dependent children living with them in their home country the children will not be included)
Visa officers reviewing these applications will still look at factors such as the purpose of the visit, the ties to the home country, and whether it is likely or not that the parents would return to their home country after their planned visit. Because of this tough scrutiny, it is important for families to put forward as much evidence as possible of the parent’s or grandparent’s continued ties to their country, and anything else that would help to prove that they will return home.
Speaking to an immigration lawyer for some legal advice or assistance with preparing this application can significantly help to reduce the risk of refused applications, which are difficult to overcome on a second try, unless there are significantly changed circumstances. Preparing a complete and comprehensive application the first time could be the difference between seeing your family reunited again within months, or waiting a much longer time.
McCuaig Desrochers LLP, a general practice law firm with Edmonton’s largest group of immigration lawyers (www.mccuaig.com). This article first appeared in the March 2017 edition of the Millwoods Mosaic – the Multicultural Voice of Southeast Edmonton and is intended to provide general information only and should not to be relied on as legal advice or opinion. We invite you to contact one of the members of our experienced immigration group for assistance.