In one of my columns last year, I pointed out that that the procedure for processing applications through the current Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship program was exclusionary. While many in the cap of 10 000, were successful in being Invited to Apply in both of the draws held in March and August 2017, most were not.
Thousands of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who sought to sponsor their parents or grandparents encountered stumbling blocks. Their honest and eager attempts at family reunification were frustrating because of the existing mechanism of the program. It is high time that the program should be redesigned.
Prior to the new system implemented in January 2017, many sponsors or their counsel in the Greater Toronto Area hired couriers to stand in line for hours at the Case Processing Centre in Mississauga to ensure their applications were accepted on time while others mailed their applications. However, most of the applications sent by mail were considered after the slew of applications delivered by couriers since all applications are processed on the date they are received.
In 2017, the cap for applications was 10,000 and it remains the same for this year. The Government continues to use a lottery system where sponsors submit their “intent to sponsor” and are notified by email if they have been chosen to be Invited to Apply. Last year, persons who wanted to sponsor their parents and/or grandparents, submitted basic information via an online portal between the first business day in January and the first business day in February. These potential sponsors were randomly selected to file the necessary applications.
According to a recent news report, last year Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada received 95,000 online forms and randomly choose 10,000 of them. But according to information presented by the Minister Hussen in the House of Commons last December, the Department ended up receiving only 6,020 applications after the first round – thus their unexpected decision to allow for a second draw for those sponsors who had already submitted their ” intent to sponsor.”
This second draw took place in August but many sponsors did not follow through with their invitations to apply. However, many potential sponsors waited patiently to be chosen or enquired online, inputting their confirmation number on the government website.. Again, most were disappointed.
This year the portal has significantly changed. Sponsors must, before proceeding, confirm that they have read the eligibility requirements and further confirm they meet the Minimum Necessary Income for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017. The system will not allow the sponsor to proceed and submit their intent unless this information and contact and family details, are provided.
What does this mean? It means that sponsors must be truthful in providing information about their income and family size in their ” intent to sponsor.”( Tax assessments will provide the necessary proof with respect to income.) If they are chosen and the documentation does not coincide with the information on the intent submission, this will negatively affect their chances of sponsorship and/or any future sponsorship.
The income requirement is a very high threshold but the sponsors may have their spouses or common-law partners co-sign their applications, thereby combining their income for each requested year.
Here is an example. A family numbering seven persons for the taxation year 2017 is $84,631. The family size consists of the sponsor, any persons who are part of a past sponsorship that is still effective, spouse and dependent children, if applicable – plus, the parent/grandparent, spouse and all dependent children under 22. If there are any additional persons, a sum of $8, 616, for each person must be added to the necessary income. So, if Joe is married and has two dependent children and neither his wife nor himself has ever sponsored anyone in the past, his family size is four. This number is added to Joe’s parents and any dependent children his parents may have – for example, a 17 year old sister. Therefore, Joe’s family size would be a total of seven.
The significant difference from last year’s portal is the confirmation by the sponsors that they meet the eligibility requirements and the financial requirements – information which is available on the intent submission. This year’s program will again close in February – specifically at noon today.
Clearly, the present system can be deemed as unfair since one of the objectives of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is family reunification. Let’s say in the case of the example which I have provided, Joe and his spouse meet the Minimum Necessary Income requirement and he is not chosen. He will then have to wait until next year or the year after that – or the year after that.
Many people believe that parents and grandparents are not economic immigrants but in the case of a child or grandchild who earns an income sufficient to sponsor his or her relative but not in a position to afford childcare, how can it be said that this relative is not contributing to the economy? This relative allows the sponsor to continue working while his or her child is being cared for.
This lotto system is unworkable. A “luck and chance” game. It is a waste of time and money and deprives qualified sponsors from processing their applications. Our immigration system should not be based on taking chances. It must have a positive and sensible approach towards family reunification and must be redesigned with credibility and integrity.
SUKHRAM RAMKISSOON is a member of ICCRC and specializes in Immigration Matters at No. 3089 Bathurst Street, Suite 219A Toronto, Ontario, M6A 2A4 Phone 416 789 5756.