After a two-year moratorium, the immigration authorities have announced that Canadian citizens and permanent residents will again be able to sponsor their parents and grandparents for permanent residence in Canada, commencing in January 2014. However, the criteria for sponsoring parents or grandparents will be more restrictive than under the previous program. The purpose of these new requirements is to better ensure than sponsors are financially able to care for their parents or grandparents once they arrive in Canada. The requirements of the new program will be as follows:
- An increased income requirement – the sponsor will have to show income at least 30 percent above the LICO (low income cut-off level) in order to meet the minimum necessary income requirement, whereas under the former program the sponsor only had to meet the LICO,
- Three year income requirement – the sponsor will have to show that they have met the minimum necessary income requirement for the past three years, whereas under the former program only one year of income had to be shown,
- Notice of Assessment(s) is the only evidence of income – to prove their income sponsors may only use their income tax returns as documentary evidence, the immigration authorities will not consider other evidence of income, as they did under the former program,
- 20 year sponsorship – the sponsor will have to agree to be financially responsible for the parent or grandparent for a period of 20 years, whereas the sponsorship period used to be 10 years,
- 18 is the maximum age for dependents – dependent children will only be processed as dependents of parents and grandparents if they are under the age of 18, whereas previously the age limit was 22 years. The immigration authorities intend to apply the last change across the board to all permanent residence applications, meaning that children aged 19 and over will no longer be able to accompany their parents to Canada.
As a final restriction, only 5,000 applications will be accepted in 2014. The immigration authorities justify this final measure as being necessary to enable them to continue working on reducing the existing backlog of parental sponsorship applications.