IMPACT – Medium

What is the change? Canada has reintroduced a program allowing foreign residents to sponsor their parents, but will cap the number of applications at 5,000 per year.

What does it mean? Foreign workers should apply as soon as possible to get under the quota.

  • Implementation timeframe: Jan. 1, 2014.
  • Visas/permits affected: Residency for parents of foreign nationals who are Canadian permanent residents.
  • Who is affected: Permanent resident foreign nationals.
  • Impact on processing times: The current processing time for parental sponsorship is approximately three to four years.
  • Next steps: Qualifying foreign assignees are urged to apply as soon as possible.

Background: Canada is reintroducing an old program with new restrictions. The parental sponsorship program was suspended on Nov. 5, 2011, so that Citizenship and Immigration Canada could tackle the backlog of applications that were taking up to seven years to process. The current time is about three to four years.

Under the new program, foreign residents may sponsor parents but there are stricter income and other measures. The sponsoring resident must meet minimum income levels set by the government for the previous three years from the date of the sponsorship application. These income figures depend on family size – the larger the family, the higher the required minimum income. These rates are a 30 percent increase from rates under previous sponsorship rules.

In addition, the foreign worker must sign an indemnification agreement that says he or she will reimburse the Canadian government for any social assistance payment by the government to the parents during their first 20 years of residency. Under old rules, a foreign resident only had to indemnify the government for five years. The number of applications to sponsor parents is capped at 5,000 per year. Only new applications beginning Jan. 1 will be counted toward the cap.

BAL Analysis: The law benefits foreign residents seeking to sponsor parents, but the very restrictive cap could be exhausted quickly.

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