Canada is eager for the promised reopening of the Parental Sponsorship program proposed in January 2015. However, the program may offer some new obstacles that unknowing Canadians may not be anticipating. The government temporarily stopped the program in September of 2011 in order to address the serious processing shortcomings the category was facing.
Some of the most important changes to the program seem more like hurdles than aimed at family reunification.
Increased Minimum Necessary Income
In order to be eligible to sponsor, the sponsor must meet a minimum necessary income. This is known as the Low Income Cut off. This income is based on the size of their family as well as the number of people they are sponsoring. The requirement increases with the size of your family. This income cut-off will be increased by 30% with the new proposed changes to the program. This means that, for example, a family of four that initially had to have an income of $42,000.00 CAD will now have to have a minimum income of $55,000.00 in order to be eligible to sponsor.
Increased Number of Years the Sponsor Has Been Earning the Necessary Income
Previously, meeting the low-income cut-off at the time of application meant you were eligible. This will no longer be the case. With the new changes to the program, sponsors will need to demonstrate that they have met this income for at least the past three years. This means that sponsors will need to demonstrate financial stability comparable to the minimum necessary income for an extended period of time.
Financial Set Backs
Sponsors in previous applicants would submit bank statements, pay stubs and other such financial documentation to support their claim in order to demonstrate the income requirements. It is anticipated that this will no longer be the case in January; the only acceptable form of financial documentation that will be accepted to demonstrate your compliance with the minimum income requirement will be the notice of assessment issued by the Canadian Revenue Agency. This means that you must be in good standing with the CRA and that all your assets etc., have been declared.
Increased Undertaking Timeline
When sponsoring, in general, there is always a financial undertaking the sponsor must agree to. This undertaking is essentially an agreement with Canada/the Minister/Her Majesty that states that you will be financially responsible for the person being sponsored for a set period of time. This means that if the person being sponsored goes on social assistance, the sponsor is liable to return this money to Canada. This undertaking will increase from ten years to twenty when sponsoring your parents. You will pretty much be financially responsible for them for the rest of their lives.
Dependents are Getting Younger
The maximum age of dependents sponsored for all immigration categories is scheduled to change from 22 years of age to 18 years of age. This means that children of sponsored persons over the age of 18 no longer qualify as a dependent and cannot be sponsored along with their parents. There were also previous exceptions for dependents over the age of 18 who are currently in school full-time, this will also no longer qualify.