Many foreign nationals have become permanent residents of Canada. The Canadian government has achieved this with the help of immigration programs. Examples of these programs are the Express Entry System’s immigration programs and the Provincial Nominee Program,
As well, Canada’s programs for business and rural immigration have done much to ensure a steady stream of economic immigrants for the country.
These programs have allowed Canada to have the skilled migrants it has had for the past decade. According to Statistics Canada, immigration programs for skilled workers accounted for more than 63% of Canada’s total immigrants in 2016.
Looking at immigration trends, one would see that the lion’s share of immigrants come from Asia- a place where family-orientedness is enshrined.
As the number of new skilled permanent residents rises, so too does the clamour for parental sponsorships. In its pledge to reunite families, the Canadian government has programs in place for citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their parents.
Through parental sponsorship, your parents could also be permanent residents of Canada.
The Parents And Grandparents Program: An Overview
The immigration of parents and grandparents fall under family class immigration. In Canada, one of the programs for family class immigration is the parents and grandparents program (PGP).
The PGP allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to help their parents and grandparents immigrate to Canada. Parents and grandparents could be permanent residents via the sponsorship of their children who are either Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
Permanent residents or Canadian citizens who wish to sponsor their parents can begin the application process by submitting an “Interest to Sponsor” form. Only eligible citizens and permanent residents can do this.
The IRCC invites eligible sponsors to apply for the sponsorship of their parents or grandparents. Parents and grandparents could then apply for permanent residence under the family class.
It is important to note that the form for an “Interest to Sponsor” is available only during certain times of the year. As a sponsor, you need to be updated about this.
The Canadian government’s site and the IRCC’s main site post updates on when you could apply for sponsorship.
The PGP And COVID-19
Since the WHO announced the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Canada has unveiled changes to its immigration programs and policies.
Many of these changes were made in light of the effects of lockdowns and quarantines- both in and out of Canada.
These changes have come in many forms. For you, these changes will affect your sponsorship application.
Changes To The Average Processing Time
Despite the slow opening of the economy, lockdowns are still in place in many parts of Canada. These lockdowns continue to affect the ability of workers to go to work. The offices of the IRCC are not immune to this.
At the time of writing, the offices of the IRCC and Service Canada continue to operate with limited staff. As a result, the processing time of visas tends to be longer.
According to the IRCC, the average processing time for parental sponsorships is 20 to 24 months. With limited human resources in the IRCC’s offices, you could expect the processing time to be longer than the aforementioned period.
A Reduction In The Income Requirement For Sponsors
COVID-19 has affected not only mobility and travel. It has also forced many businesses to either shut down or operate in limited capacity.
With many Canadian businesses laying off employees, many citizens and permanent residents may not meet the income requirement for sponsoring their parents and grandparents. Before COVID-19, sponsors needed to meet the Low-Income-Cut-Off requirement. The Pre-COVID-19 requirements are in the table below:
For sponsorship of parents, sponsors needed to prove that their income was 30% higher than the minimum required income.
For instance, to sponsor one parent in 2019, you would have needed:
- 25,921.00 CAD (minimum gross income for sponsoring one person)
- An additional 7,776.30 CAD (30% of 25,921.00 CAD)
The total amount you would have needed before 2020 was 33,697.30 CAD to sponsor one parent.
As per the announcement made in October 2020, sponsors only need to meet the minimum requirement. Hence, with the same example, you would only need to prove that amount of 25,921.00 CAD. The additional 7,776.30 is no longer a requirement.
Government Aid And The Eligibility Of Sponsors
Originally, receiving financial assistance from the Canadian government would disqualify you from sponsoring anyone.
This is no longer the case in 2020 in light of COVID-19. As per immigration minister Marco Mendicino’s announcement, citizens and permanent residents may now be sponsors even with government aid.
In the announcement, the Canadian immigration minister acknowledged the economic challenges COVID-19 has brought on people. Financial difficulties have led many to apply for unemployment benefits (i.e. Employment Insurance).
In line with the new policy on sponsor eligibility, sponsors may now include government aid in their proof of income. In other words, you could still sponsor your parents or grandparents even if you are receiving government assistance.
Requirements For Sponsors
Although the IRCC has made some changes to the PGP’s policies, some eligibility requirements still apply. As a sponsor, you need to meet them to be a sponsor.
Permanent Residence Or Canadian Citizenship
To be eligible to sponsor your parent or grandparent, you need to be a:
- Permanent resident of Canada
- Canadian citizen
You are not eligible to sponsor your parents (or anyone, for that matter) if you are a temporary resident of Canada (e.g. a student or a temporary foreign worker).
Due to their status in Canada, Registered Indians may also be sponsors. In addition, all sponsors need to be at least 18 years of age at the time of the application.
A Promise Of Support
Sponsors must be able to support the people they are sponsoring for at least 20 years. To prove this to the IRCC, you as a sponsor need to provide a letter.
The letter is a letter of support. In the letter, you need to include the following information:
- Your full name
- The name/s of the parent/s you are sponsoring
- A statement of your willingness to provide for your parent’s/ parents’ basic needs for at least 20 years
- Your address
- Your date of birth
- Your job title
- Your status in Canada (Canadian citizen or permanent resident)
- Details about your parents (ages and birthdates)
Proof Of Income
In line with your willingness to support your parents, you need to attach proof of your income. Your yearly income must meet the Low-Income Cut-Off requirement.
Due to the changes announced on October 5, 2020, you only need to meet the minimum amount. The 30% requirement on top of the minimum amount no longer applies at the time of writing.
A Clean Criminal Record
At the time of applying, you should not have been convicted of any criminal offences. In addition, any jail time served would immediately disqualify you from being a sponsor.
For Sponsors Living In Quebec
The requirements for a sponsor living in Quebec are similar the those of the Canadian government. There are a few slight differences:
Required Income To Sponsor Parents Or Grandparents
The minimum gross income for sponsors in Quebec is slightly lower compared to that of Canada’s.
The table below shows the required gross income for sponsors in Quebec:
Willingness To Reimburse The Quebec Government For Government Assistance
Once sponsored, parents and grandparents may receive government assistance like health care. However, during the sponsorship period (10 years), the sponsor must reimburse or pay back the Quebec government.
If you live in Quebec, you need to include a statement in your letter of support. It should say that you are willing to reimburse the government for services your parent or grandparent uses.
Eligibility Of Parents Or Grandparents
There are also eligibility requirements for your parents or grandparents. Since the PGP is not for skilled workers, parents and grandparents do not have to meet the requirements for language, work experience, and education.
Relation To The Sponsor
Parents could be related to the sponsor either by blood or by adoption.
In either case, parents need to supply documents that prove their relationship to you, the sponsor. One example of a document is your birth certificate. The birth certificate must have the name of at least one parent (the one you are sponsoring).
If you were adopted, your parents need to include a copy of your certificate of adoption.
You can sponsor only your parents or grandparents. You may not sponsor the parents or grandparents of your spouse.
Admissibility Into Canada
You can sponsor a parent who is admissible to Canada.
Hence, your parents need to include the following in their application:
- Police clearance certificates
- Medical examination report (done by an IRCC-authorized panel physician)
How To Apply For Sponsorship
Before your parent or grandparent could apply for permanent residence under the family class, you need to sponsor them. Before sponsoring your parent or grandparent, you need to apply for sponsorship.
Step 1: Submit An “Interest To Sponsor” Form
The IRCC opens invitations for sponsorship at certain times of the year. During these times, the IRCC puts a downloadable Interest to Sponsor form on the site. To start the sponsorship application process, you need to fill up this form.
As part of your expression of interest to sponsor, you need to include either of the following as attachments:
- A coloured copy of your Canadian passport (to prove citizenship)
- A coloured copy of your PR card (if you are a permanent resident)
Closure Of Sponsorship Applications As Of November 3, 2020
Last November 3, 2020, the IRCC closed the intake of PGP sponsorship applications. Sponsors may apply again sometime in 2021. To date, there are no exact dates involving when applications may be taken again.
Step 2: Wait For Your Invitation To Apply
Every year, there are a limited number of spots for sponsorship applications. The IRCC selects sponsorship applications randomly. In other words, a lottery-type system is used to select the applications of sponsors.
If your Interest to Sponsor has been selected, you will receive an invitation to apply for parental sponsorship.
You may only proceed with your sponsorship application after receiving the invitation. The IRCC sends the invitation to apply by email.
Step 3: Download The Application Package
The application package includes instructions and a list of documents you need. It is downloadable. You can get it from the Canadian government’s main site.
In this step, some of the documents you need to include are:
- Letter of support
- Proof of income
- Proof of status (e.g. Canadian passport or PR card)
You will also need a police clearance certificate and biometrics later on
Step 4: Pay The Necessary Fees
The fees you need to pay will cover the following:
- Processing fees for you and the parent you are sponsoring
- You parent or grandparent’s Right of Permanent Residence fee
At the time of writing, the processing fee for sponsoring a parent or grandparent is 1,050.00 CAD. This could increase depending on third-party fees and the number of people you are sponsoring.
Payment must be made online using the IRCC’s online payment page. The page has a tool that allows you to select the right fee. This is based on what you are applying for, of course.
Because payment is online, you will need a valid credit or debit card. Often, you need to pay the fees as you send your application for sponsorship.
Step 5: Send Your Application To The IRCC
The instruction guide in the application package will contain instructions on how to send the application. From the day you receive your invitation to apply, you will have 60 days to send your application.
If You Live In Quebec
You need to submit one more requirement if you are a resident of Quebec. After submitting documents to IRCC, you need to apply for “undertaking”. This is an agreement between you, the person you are sponsoring, and the province of Quebec.
In a way, it is like a contract. In it, you are promising the government of Quebec that you will provide for the needs of your parents or grandparents.
Quebec’s site has the necessary forms in both English and French. For parental sponsorship, you need to have the documents and listed here.
PR Application For Parents And Grandparents
If IRCC approves you as a sponsor, your parent or grandparent may now apply for permanent residence.
The way to apply is online. Hence, your parent or grandparent needs to create his or her own IRCC online account.
Step 1: Create An Online Account
There are two ways your parents or grandparents could create an online account with IRCC:
- Through GCKey
- Through a sign-in partner
Doing this allows them to easily make payments. As well, it makes receiving updates from the IRCC easier.
Step 2: Pay The Necessary Fees
You will have already paid the Right to Permanent Residence Fee and the processing fee. Hence, at this stage, your parent or grandparent only needs to pay for biometrics which costs 85.00 CAD.
As well, your parent or grandparent needs to pay for:
- His or her police clearance certificate
- His or her medical examination report (from an IRCC-authorized panel physician)
These are third-party fees. Hence, these are not paid online.
Upon paying the fees, your parent or grandparent will receive a biometrics instruction letter. This letter will inform your parent of when and where to go for biometrics collection.
Step 3: Submit Necessary Documents
The parent or grandparent you are sponsoring should upload his or her documents to the online account.
The IRCC will continue to process the application thereafter. After approval, your parent or grandparent must submit the following:
- Two photographs
- A receipt of the Right to Permanent Residence fee (paid by the sponsor)
These are necessary for the Confirmation of Permanent Residence
Step 4: Wait for The CoPR (Confirmation of Permanent Residence)
The IRCC will then mail back your parent or grandparent’s passport. Along with it is the CoPR. Your parent or grandparent may now travel to Canada.
The process for your parents to be permanent residents consists of two stages:
First, you need to express willingness to sponsor them. In addition, it is vital that you convince the IRCC (and perhaps the government of Quebec) of your willingness to support them whilst they are in Canada.
After that, your parent or grandparent may apply for permanent residence. As you may have noticed, fewer documents are required from them. This is because, unlike skilled workers, they are immigrating under the family class.
The Canadian government has closed applications at this time. Hence, you may want to put off sponsoring your parents for a while. Luckily, the IRCC has announced that it will reopen sponsorship applications in 2021.
We at Choose Canada will stay abreast with the developments of the PGP. We will continue to update content in accordance with the latest announcements of the IRCC.