System for parents and grandparents sponsorship unworkable.

Immigration Matters – Sukhram Ramkissoon

“First-in-first-served” system for parents and grandparents sponsorship unfair, flawed and unworkable.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen reminded Canadians that “reuniting families is a key immigration priority for the Government of Canada.”

The Minister, who was discussing changes in the Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP)  last year said he recognized that parents,their children and grandchildren just want one thing: they simply just want to be together, not apart, and the faster they can be together, the better.

Back in 2014, there were only 5,000 spaces available in the PGP. When the Liberal Government came into office, it doubled that number from 5,000 spaces to 10,000. 

The random selection process or so-called ‘lottery system’, was scrapped and the government made “interest to sponsor” forms available to potential sponsors; that form was introduced at noon EST on January 28, 2019. The Government will accept those forms according to the order in which they were submitted. It was hoped that this “first-in-first-served’ system, which replaced the random selection process, will run smoothly in the best interests of all concerned.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), in a news release, said that it will accept “interest to sponsor” submissions for a limited time and then invite potential sponsors to submit a complete application. The applications will be accepted until the 2019 cap of 20,000 is reached.

The new online application was launched on January 28, 2019 – and this process left tens of thousand of people frustrated and furious because they couldn’t access the form or fill it out fast enough.

Credible reports stated that the online application service, which opened at noon ET on January 28, closed within nine minutes. Literally, tens of thousands of prospective sponsors who were eligible to sponsor their parent or grand parents were denied this one-time opportunity. Some called the process unfair and discriminatory.

The PGP has always been popular; under this program family re-unification should be limited to a specific number, but should have an open sponsorship under this class.  After all, sponsors have to meet a very high bar to qualify for sponsorship, so why place numbers and restrictions on the program? Surely, the liberal government as I understand,  pride themselves on fairness and equality, so why not have an open sponsorship?

The Conservative government has described this program as a “burden” on the Federal Government in terms of financial support.  However, it should be noted the duration of the undertaking for a parent or grandparent is 20 years.  If this sponsored person becomes a charge to the Canadian government during the sponsorship undertaking, the sponsor is obligated to return the money the government spent in support of person being sponsored. Therefore, parents and grandparents will not become a burden on the Canadian Federal government.

Surely, parents and grand parents can apply for a ‘Super Visa,” allowing them to stay for two years.   But they won’t have access to employment, and the hosts (children or grandchildren) would be obligated to obtain health coverage for their parent or grandparent for the two year period.

Several of my clients are anxious to be re-united with their parents and grandparents, and are hoping that the Government will soon introduce an open sponsorship where there will be no limit placed on numbers.  

Clearly this sponsorship program is greatly in need of a major overhaul, and the sooner it is done the better.

Mr Minister, of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, it is time to fix this flawed system.

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.