Re-Opening of Sponsorship of Parents and Grandparents
On January 2, 2014, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) will re-open the Parents and Grandparents (“PGP”) sponsorship program, which allows eligible Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their parents and grandparents in immigrating to Canada as permanent residents. This comes after CIC put a pause on accepting new applications to the PGP sponsorship program to address a massive backlog that had been causing wait times of eight years or more.
CIC will accept a maximum of 5,000 new applications in 2014. The cap is being put in place to allow for the elimination of the existing backlog and to prevent future backlogs.
Applications will be processed only if received by the Centralized Processing Centre in Mississauga (“CPC-Mississauga”), Ontario, on or after Thursday, January 2, 2014. In order to be included under the 5,000 cap and considered for processing, applications must be completed according to the application kit requirements in place at the time the application is received by CPC-Mississauga. In calculating the 5,000 cap, sponsorship applications for PGP will be considered in the order of the date they are received.
More information, new application forms and instruction guides for the redesigned PGP sponsorship program will be made available in the coming weeks.
It is important for a sponsor to remember that, under current law, a parent or grandparent who makes an application as a member of the family class cannot become a permanent resident unless a sponsorship undertaking from the sponsor is in effect. A sponsorship application for a parent or grandparent will only be approved if there is evidence that the sponsor intends to fulfil the obligations in the sponsorship undertaking from the day the application is filed until the day a decision is made with respect to the application.
A sponsor’s undertaking obliges the sponsor to reimburse the federal or provincial government for the cost of every benefit provided as social assistance to the sponsored parent or grandparent during the term of the sponsor’s undertaking, which in the case of a parent and grandparent is 10 years (expected to change to 20 years) from the day the parent or grandparent becomes a permanent resident.
There are also new qualifying criteria for permanent residency sponsorship. These include an increase in the minimum necessary income. A sponsor must now prove they have the minimum necessary income for three (3) consecutive years using Canada Revenue Agency Notices of Assessment.
ENFORCING SPONSORSHIP DEBT
Governments have discretion to defer but not forgive sponsorship debt. In Canada (Attorney General) v. Mavi, 2011 SCC 30, the Supreme Court of Canada held that in deciding whether or not to defer sponsorship debt, the government must take into account the sponsor’s circumstances and those of his or her sponsored relatives.
The Court also declared that Canada and Ontario owe sponsors a duty of procedural fairness when enforcing sponsorship debt. The content of this duty of procedural fairness includes the following obligations: (a) to notify a sponsor at his or her last known address of the claim; (b) to afford the sponsor an opportunity within limited time to explain in writing his or her relevant personal and financial circumstances that are said to militate against immediate collection; (c) to consider any relevant circumstances brought to its attention keeping in mind that the undertakings were the essential pre-conditions to allowing the sponsored immigrant to enter Canada in the first place; (d) to notify the sponsor of the government’s decision; (e) without the need to provide reasons.