The Parent and Grandparent sponsorship programme has reached the maximum number of applications that will be accepted this year, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced last week.
It was a short-lived moment of euphoria for those families who had been waiting to reunite through the immigration programme that allows Canadian residents to sponsor their parents or grandparents.
As the programme re-opened this January, with much fanfare after two years, it reached the 5,000 intake cap within one month.
Now, the programme has been closed again, for at least one year.
On January 2, the CIC re-opened the Parents and Grandparents sponsorship programme for application, promising to accept 5,000 new applications this year.
In general, the Canadian government committed to welcoming 20,000 new parents and grandparents to Canada, drawing the remaining 15,000 candidates from the existing backlog of applicants.
Due to a backlog of applications and long processing times Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) had stopped accepting applications for the immigration stream on November 5, 2011.
Since then, CIC has been pursuing the Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification, aiming to reduce the backlog.
In 2012-2013 it admitted approximately 50,000 parents and grandparents as Canadian permanent residents.
It also made permanent the Super Visa Programme, which allows parents and grandparents to enter Canada as long-term visitors.
In addition, it developed a renewed Parents and Grandparents stream, with the promise of faster processing times and a number of new requirements. Among some of these requirements were the increase of the minimum necessary income (MNI) by 30 per cent, an extended period of demonstrating funds from one year to three, an extended sponsorship undertaking period to 20 years instead of 10, and reduction in the maximum age of accompanying dependents to 18 years or younger.
Commenting on the closure of the programme, the CIC said: “As the CIC has now received 5,000 complete applications, new intake into the Parent and Grandparent programme will again pause until next year, as we devote our energy to reuniting more families.
“By the end of 2014, we expect to welcome an additional 20,000 parents and grandparents to Canada, marking a substantial reduction in wait times for all applicants.”
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said: “Our government understands the importance of spending time with family and loved ones and we committed to improving the immigration system so that families can be reunited more quickly.
“Canada has the most generous family reunification programme in the developed world.
Complementing this programme, the new Super Visa remains a convenient option with a high approval rate for those who wish to visit their families in Canada for up to two years at a time.”
The CIC encourages applicants who were unable to apply for the 2014 programme to consider the option of the Super Visa, which provides parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents with a visitor visa that can be renewed for two years at a time, for a period of up to 10 years.
Around 1,000 applications are accepted every month, and 87 per cent of the applications on average are approved.