This article appeared in the Nov. 11, 2014 issue of the South Asian Post.

Canada has a long tradition of promoting family reunification in Canada. In fact, it is an express objective of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to see that all families are reunited in Canada. 

Tens of thousands of sponsored family members are admitted to come to Canada every year as permanent residents.  While the majority of family members admitted are spouses and partners, the second largest category of admitted family members are the parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. 

In the fall of 2011 the Parent and Grandparent (PGP) family sponsorship program was temporarily put on hold to allow Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to re-evaluate the program and to process the significant backlog of applications that had accumulated. 

In 2013 CIC announced that the temporary hold on the PGP program was going to be lifted.  The PGP program was set to be reopened on January 2, 2014 but with a significant number of new changes introduced.  The most important change announced was that CIC would only accept a maximum of 5,000 new applications for processing in 2014.  Furthermore, to ensure that sponsored parents and grandparents would be better cared for after arriving in Canada, CIC also announced that it was making a 30 percent increase to the minimum income levels that sponsors would need to demonstrate in order to successfully sponsor a parent or a grandparent to Canada.  As a result of these program changes, sponsors are now required to provide their Canada Revenue Agency tax return notice of assessments for the past three years as proof of their income.   

As expected, there was no shortage of new applications when the PGP program was reopened for business on January 2, 2014.  The 5,000 application cap limit was reached in less than one month.  By February 3, 2014, CIC had released a public statement announcing that the cap had been reached and that the PGP program would be reopened to new applications in January 2015. 

With the PGP program set to reopen for new applications in January 2015, prospective sponsors and applicants alike should begin preparing their applications now or seeking advice from a third-party representative if they have not already done so.  While the exact date the program is reopening is not yet known there are a number of steps and factors to keep in mind that will improve your chances of making a successful application for 2015, including the following:

  • To improve your chances of being placed into the queue for processing in 2015 PGP applicants should ensure that their complete applications are received at the CIC office on the same day that the program is formally reopened.
  • A complete application will include the appropriate fee payment, a complete set of validated forms with original signatures and all of the supporting documents required to accompany the application. 
  • Ensure that the application forms you complete are the latest versions available on the CIC website.  An application package with outdated forms is not considered a complete application package that will be placed in the queue for processing. 
  • The application fees for your application package may not be processed for months after its submission.  If you are paying the applications fees using your credit card, ensure that your credit card is valid for at least 9 months from the date of the submission of your application. 
  • Ensure that the sponsor provides the past three years of his or her Canada Revenue Agency tax return notice of assessments to be included in the complete application package.

The cap for the PGP program is sure to fill up very quickly again for 2015 as it did this year.  With January 2015 being only a few months away, you should not delay any further in making your preparations to file your application.