The Great Retirement is killing the Parental Sponsorship Programs…

by Legally Canadian

but informed clients find ways to prevail.

As businesses strain to come to terms with the effects of the Great Resignation, between now and 2030, there is another “Great One” coming – the Great Retirement, which refers to the roughly 75 million “Baby Boomers” who are slated to retire in that time period. The “Baby Boomers” (North Americans born between 1949 and 1964)  are coming up on retirement age, which means that as they leave the workforce and create job vacancies, they are also going to be putting additional pressure on health and social services. This is going to have both positive and negative effects on Canadian immigration. If, however, you are a permanent resident in Canada with hopes of sponsoring your parents to join you here, you may find this a difficult quest in the coming years. 

Canada is fortunate to be one of the top destinations for global talent. Young professionals from all over the world are interested in making this country their permanent home due to reasons such as safety and security, high standard of living, but also, a comprehensive and relatively friendly immigration system, which is designed to provide permanent pathways for people who can work and pay into our retirement system. Immigrants and Canada need each other, and for the most part, this partnership has worked very well. Unfortunately, the erstwhile promise of establishment in Canada with prospects of full family reunification is no longer valid. The clear message now is that your parents can come, but they cannot stay permanently, and they have to cover their own medical expenses. 

The parents and grandparents sponsorship program is not officially dead, but it is struggling to stand up on broken legs. When clients ask me to provide some guidance on how things work now, my only answer is, “we don’t know”. “It may reopen soon”, I usually say, “but we can’t tell you when or for how long”. For a time, the program worked as a lottery system – submit your application, and if you are lucky, you will be selected. “Luck” was estimated at about 10% chance, as roughly 100,000 applications would compete for 10,000 spots. Then, in 2019, IRCC introduced a “first come – first served” system, which opened at noon on January 18 and was going to remain open until the available 27,000 spots filled up. What this meant in practical terms is that the portal remained open for a total of 11 minutes. That is how long it took for the quota to fill, and the portal to close for the year. What we are left with now seems to be another type of lottery solution, but we don’t know. It changes forms as it tries to find itself, and as the Federal Government struggles to balance the needs of immigration applicants, with the demographic realities of Canada. The inevitable conclusion is do not count on it. Find alternatives. 

The first obvious alternative is the Super Visa.  For many people, it can be a really excellent workable solution. A Super Visa is relatively easy to get (if your parents can afford their own medical insurance with at least $100,000 of emergency coverage, and can guarantee that they will not be a burden on our social system. The super visa can allow your parents to stay for up to 5 years at a time, and provides multiple entries for 10 years. Parents and grandparents can, thus, travel freely and spend some extended quality time in Canada with family. Unfortunately, the super visa is by design a temporary solution, and relies on the fact that your senior folks will eventually depart Canada, and spend their golden years in their country of origin.

Another potential pathway is an application under Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds (H&C). This is an exceptional relief available to individuals who do not qualify through a regular immigration pathway but can demonstrate compelling circumstances that warrant humanitarian and compassionate relief. Broadly speaking, these factors include level of establishment in Canada, and hardship upon return to one’s country of origin. It is not an easy road to PR, but for some people, it may be the best option to achieve that goal. If your parent(s) are unable to return to their home country due to demonstrable hardship, and they have taken steps to integrate themselves into Canadian society, they could potentially explore this program. 

If your parents are not yet ready to retire, and have decent command of English or French, they could qualify for one of different economic pathways. The Express Entry system does cut off human capital points drastically for individuals 40 and older, but that is only one variable in the comprehensive calculation. Their education, professional experience, official language skills, all factor into the cumulative points, and age need not be a limiting factor. A qualifying offer of employment, especially in higher management positions, could potentially provide sufficient points to qualify for an invitation to apply for permanent residency. Entrepreneurs with investment funds can look into the different Provincial Nomination Programs, which could offer a pathway for those that may be interested in opening a business. 

Ultimately, throwing your number into the hat when the next round of parental sponsorship invitations opens is a free option, but if that does not work out, consider other possibilities. There are many different pathways to Canada, designed on both the federal and provincial level, some of which are more obvious than others. An experienced immigration lawyer can walk you through these options and demystify the process, helping you to ultimately be reunited with your family in Canada. 

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