Immigration Options for Parents and Grandparents
The Super Visa is a special type of visa and it has some peculiarities. In this article we will describe both options for parents and grandparents to come to Canada:
Family reunification has been a core tenet of Canada’s immigration policy since the Immigration Act of 1976. Its objective, as defined in the 1976 Act, is to “facilitate the reunion in Canada of Canadian citizens and permanent residents with their close relatives from abroad.” The sponsorship program makes it possible for citizens or permanent residents of Canada to:
- Change the status of a relative from temporary resident of Canada to permanent resident in Canada; or
- Gain permanent resident status for a relative who may be living outside Canada.
The Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship Program is managed by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) department of the federal government. The program is based on the notion that a person who is a resident or citizen of Canada (called the Sponsor) would voluntarily provide financial support for the basic needs of his or her relative who is being sponsored for permanent residence to Canada. This commitment by the Sponsor is documented in a legally-binding written agreement called an undertaking. The undertaking is a Sponsor’s promise to provide financial support and basic living needs for the parents or grandparents who are being sponsored. The length of undertaking for sponsorship of parents, grandparents, and their accompanying dependent persons is 20 years; in other words, the Sponsor must agree to provide financial support for the persons being sponsored for a period of 20 years.
In 2019, 22,011 parents and grandparents were admitted under the Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship Program, representing a record high. Figures for 2020 are not available at the time of writing this article but are likely to be low due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19. In 2021, Canada plans to approve 30,000 applications under this program to compensate for the lower number of entries in 2020.
Sponsoring parents and grandparents is not the only way to bring them to Canada. The Super Visa is a multiple-entry, temporary resident visa for parents and grandparents that allows them to enter Canada as many times as they wish for a stay of up to 2 years at a time, over a 10-year period. The Super Visa is a faster way to enter Canada and stay for extended periods. Keep in mind that a Super Visa does not grant permanent residence; it grants temporary residence only. However, a person can apply for permanent residence for someone who is currently on a Super Visa or was previously on a Super Visa.
Both of these options—the Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship Program (PGP) and the Super Visa—are discussed below.
The Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship Program (PGP) “opens” only once a year, typically in autumn, for a period of up to one month; in this context, the term “opens” means that the program accepts applications. The program is designed for Canadian citizens and permanent residents who want to sponsor their parents and grandparents to come to Canada. Applying under this program is a bilateral process that involves the parent (or grandparent) on one side and his or her Sponsor on the other. Both must:
- Meet the criteria to become eligible for this program; and
- Fill out and submit separate application forms at the same time.
If you are the parents or grandparents of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who is willing to sponsor you then your Sponsor must submit an application to sponsor, and you must submit an application for permanent residence at the same time. Only if your Sponsor’s application is approved will you be considered as a candidate for permanent resident status.
Who can be a Sponsor?
The qualification requirements for persons who wish to sponsor their parents and grandparents are the same as those for sponsorship of a spouse, partner, or dependent children. A Sponsor must also need the financial requirements. Note that if a Sponsor lives in Quebec, he or she must meet not only general requirements but also Quebec specific immigration sponsorship requirements; additionally, the Sponsor’s income will be assessed by the Quebec ministry in charge of immigration.
Who can be sponsored?
A sponsored person is called the Principal Applicant (PA). To apply for a permanent residence under the PGP, a PA must:
- Be a parent or grandparent of a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, related by blood or adoption;
- Be admissible to Canada;
- Take medical exams and submit their results to IRCC.
Under this program, a Sponsor can apply to sponsor the following relations:
- His or her own parents and grandparents;
- If the Sponsor’s blood parents or grandparents have separated or divorced then the spouse, common-law, or conjugal partners of a parent or a grandparent; and
- Brothers and sisters, or half brothers and sisters only if they qualify as dependent children of the sponsored parent or grandparent.
Note that a Sponsor cannot sponsor his or her spouse’s parents or grandparents. However, (s)he can be a co-signer on the undertaking for his or her spouse’s parents or grandparents.
Only one person can be a Principal Applicant in the application. Other persons can accompany the PA and will be granted permanent residence simultaneously. The PA must list in the following in his or her application:
- His or her spouse or common-law partner;
- His or her dependent children from current and previous relationships, whether they are coming to Canada or not;
- The dependent children of his or her dependent children, if applicable.
How to choose a PA properly?
If multiple relatives in a complicated family structure are planning to come to Canada then the choice of which relative to choose as the PA can be important. In some situations, multiple applications may have to be filed. Take the example of a Canadian man who wishes to sponsor his grandfather, mother, his mother’s current husband (i.e. his stepfather), and their biological son (i.e. his stepbrother) all at once. In the situation described above, the Sponsor must submit two separate applications: one for the grandfather, one for the mother, and include the stepfather and stepbrother in the mother’s application. If you need assistance with deciding who to pick as the PA, contact our team.
Step-by-step application guide:
- Check the eligibility criteria for both a Sponsor and a Principal Applicant.
- As the first step, a Sponsor must submit the ”Interest to Sponsor” form. This form is made available only when the Government decides to open the Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship Program. This usually occurs in autumn each year and the open period lasts for up to one month.
- Obtain the correct application package: a Sponsor and a Principal Applicant must choose the correct application package, which includes document checklists and application forms that need to be filled out. Remember that application packages are not the same for every applicant; they vary depending on the citizenship, the place of residence of the applicant, and other factors of the PA. Please contact our team if you need help determining the correct application package.
WHAT IF A SPONSOR DOES NOT RECEIVE AN INVITATION TO APPLY?
Do not worry. If you don’t want to wait a year until the PGP will be opened again, consider applying for a Super Visa for parents and grandparents.
- Gather the required documents: The PA and the Sponsor should prepare a set of documents in accordance with the selected application package. For any documents that are not in English or French, you must attach the following:
- A certified copy of the original document; and
- The English or French translation, and
- An affidavit from the person who completed the translation.
- Pay Fees and Submit Applications: All fees must be paid online. You and your Sponsor must submit your individual applications at the same time. Those applications must be submitted within 60 days after the Sponsor receives an invitation to apply. Applications must be sent only by mail or courier. Do not hand-deliver your application!
- Respond to Clarification Requests: You may also be invited for an interview with a member of the Canadian Embassy in your country. You and your family members (indicated in the application) will be asked to submit:
- Medical exams;
- Police certificates; and
- Wait for approval: The decision times vary, so wait and look forward to your approval!
How much does it cost?
You and your Sponsor must pay all the following fees.
Description of Fee
Amount in CAN $
Sponsor a parent or grandparent
If the spouse or partner of your parent or grandparent is included in application
If a dependent child of a parent or grandparent is included in application
150 per child
Biometrics fee – per person
Biometrics – per family of 2 or more persons
How long does it take?
The processing time includes the time required to:
- Obtain your biometrics; these must be submitted with the application.
- Have IRCC assess the Sponsor and the person being sponsored; and
- Ensure that the PA meets all eligibility requirements.
New applicants can expect to wait from 20 to 24 months for a decision. Remember, if you want to visit Canada sooner, you can apply for a Super Visa for parents and grandparents.
A Super Visa is an alternative means for parents and grandparents to visit Canada for extended periods. If the sponsorship does not work out for you, the Super Visa offers a more accessible route. Note that you can apply for Super Visa even if you have not applied for a sponsorship.
What is a Super Visa?
A Super Visa is a 10-year visa only available for parents and grandparents of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident that allows multiple entries to Canada for stays of up to 2 years at a time. It is a type of multi-entry temporary resident visa, with some differences. The Super Visa only grants a temporary resident status, however, and if the desire is to achieve permanent resident status then it is advisable to apply for PGP.
Who can apply?
To apply for a Super Visa, a person must:
- Be a parent or grandparent of a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada;
- Have a Letter of Invitation from his or her child or grandchild;
- Live and apply outside Canada;
- Be allowed to enter Canada;
- Have medical insurance from a Canadian insurance company that:
- Provides at least CAN $100,000 in coverage;
- Is valid for at least one year from the date of applicant’s entry; and
- Has already been paid for (an applicant must show a receipt).
- Take a Medical Exam for immigrants.
What is a Letter of Invitation?
A Letter of Invitation (LOI) is similar to an undertaking in the case of PGP. An LOI is a written and signed promise of financial support for the entire length of parents’ or grandparents' stay in Canada made by a child or grandchild. Usually, this letter must be notarized. A child or grandchild must include the following information about the person being invited (i.e. the visa applicant):
- Complete name,
- Date of birth,
- Address and telephone number,
- Relationship to the person,
- The purpose of the trip,
- How long the person plans to stay in Canada,
- Where the person will stay, and how he or she will pay for things, and
- When the person plans to leave Canada.
The child or grandchild of the applicant must provide proof that his or her income meets or exceeds the low-income cut-off (LICO) — also known as a minimum necessary income for Sponsors — calculated for the total number of persons being sponsored, including the visiting parents or grandparents.
What constitutes proof of funds?
The following documents can be used as proof of child or grandchild’s financial stability:
- Notice of Assessment (NOA) from the Canada Revenue Agency;
- Bank statements;
- Pay stubs;
- Employment letter, including salary and date of hiring; or
- Employment Insurance stubs.
How to apply for a Super Visa?
A Super Visa is a temporary resident visa. The procedure of applying for a Super visa is similar to that for obtaining a general Temporary Visitor visa. The only difference is that you must provide a larger package of documents. Remember that the parent or grandparent must apply for a Super Visa from outside Canada. There are two ways to apply:
- On paper.
We strongly recommend applying online, as it is quicker, cheaper, and easier.
Step-by-step guidance on how to apply for a Super Visa for yourself:
- Gather documents: You must provide:
- A set of documents required for the Temporary Resident Visa;
- A Letter of Invitation;
- Proof that your child or grandchild meets the LICO;
- Evidence of your parent or grandparent relationship to the Canadian citizen or permanent resident you wish to visit; and
- Proof that you have private medical insurance valid for a minimum of 1 year from a Canadian insurance company.
- Complete the application: You must fill out all necessary forms. Be complete and accurate, otherwise the application will not be processed by the IRCC.
- Pay all the fees: Pay your processing and biometric fees online.
- Submit the application: You can submit the application via the IRCC e-portal or send your application to the Canadian Visa Application Centre (VAC) in your country, which is usually located in the Canadian Embassy or Consulate in your state.
- Wait for approval: After you have submitted your application, you can check its status in your online account to learn when you will be ready to obtain your visa.
How much does it cost?
An applicant must pay the following fees for a Super Visa.
Description of Fee
Amount in CAN$
Super Visa - per person
You will also have to pay fees to third parties for yourself and your family members (if applicable) for the following:
- Medical exams;
- Police certificates.
Please note that you must save your receipts and add them to the final application as proof of payment. So, save those receipts!
How long does it take?
Processing time varies depending on the country where you submit your application. You can use an online tool to check the processing time of application for a Super Visa for your country. The average processing time is 212 days. Note that this is the timeline for online applications. If you submit your application on paper to the VAC, the time it takes to send an application between your country's VAC and the IRCC office in Canada is not included in the processing time. That is why the paper application process takes longer than the online process.
Type of residence
Duration of validity
Applicant’s current place of residence
Inside or outside Canada
Permission to work
Method of application
By mail, or
CAN $ 1,050
What is the minimum income required to sponsor Parents and Grandparents in Canada?
A Sponsor must meet the minimum necessary income requirement for persons who want to sponsor their relatives. This amount is established by the Canadian government and is reviewed every year. The Canadian minimum necessary income for Sponsors is also known as the Low-Income Cut-Off (LICO). The income requirements are calculated as follows: Canada minimum necessary income + 30%. You can use this online income scale to determine the income requirements. Note that these figures are revised each year.
During 2021, due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19, an extraordinary situation has occurred. Since the incomes have fluctuate a lot during 2020, IRCC will assess sponsors on their income for tax years 2020, 2019, and 2018 as follows:
You may be confused by the fact that figures are lower for 2020 than the previous years. Since many Sponsors may have been adversely affected financially by the COVID-19 pandemic, the income requirement for the 2020 tax year has been reduced to the minimum necessary income, instead of the minimum necessary income plus 30% as is usually the case.
This table applies to the Sponsor if he or she lives in any province except Quebec. If your Sponsor lives in Quebec, the Quebec ministry in charge of immigration will assess the income.
How does the parent and grandparent Super Visa differ from a multiple-entry visa?
The Super Visa is a type of a multiple-entry visa that is valid for 10 years. Its main difference from a regular multiple-entry visa is that parents or grandparents on a Super Visa can stay in Canada for up to to two years in one stretch, whereas a 10-year multiple-entry visa allows stays of up to six months only. Visitors who want to stay longer under the multiple-entry visa must apply for an extension every six months, and pay a new fee each time. This is not required for a person on a Super Visa.
Can parents and grandparents work under a Super Visa?
The Super Visa itself does not grant permission to work in Canada. However, since 2020, Super Visa holders who meet the eligibility criteria for a Temporary Work Permit have the right to apply for a Work Permit once they are in Canada. This means that parents and grandparents can apply for a Work Permit after they have arrived in Canada under the Super Visa.
Can a Sponsor sponsor more than one person through the Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship Program?
Yes, a Sponsor can sponsor more than one person. The Sponsor can provide financial support for parents and grandparents at the same time. To do so, he or she must submit separate applications for each person (or couple). Note that the Sponsor must meet the income requirements for all the individuals they apply to sponsor and their dependent children. After that, a Sponsor’s application may be randomly selected from the pool of Sponsorship applications. One, or both, or none of the Sponsor’s applications may be selected.
What is an “Interest to Sponsor” form?
The Interest to Sponsor form is the first step in the PGP sponsorship. This form is a special document that a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who wishes to sponsor his or her parents or grandparents must fill out and submit to IRCC. This form becomes available when the Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship Program opens every year. The form is revised annually, which is why a Sponsor should not fill it out in advance.
Can an applicant cancel the sponsorship application and apply for a Super Visa instead?
Yes, an applicant can withdraw his or her sponsorship application at any time. Only after that, an applicant can apply for a Super Visa. In other words, you can not apply for a Super Visa if you have a PGP application pending. However, once you have obtained a Super Visa, you can then apply for a PGP. If you are confused with the sequencing requirements, please contact us.
Although the Canadian government prioritizes family reunification in Canada, there are strict requirements for both a Sponsor and a sponsored person. If you are interested in exploring this route for yourself or for your parents or grandparents, please ensure that your applications are filled accurately and completely. If you need help in preparing a clear and accurate application package that will have a high likelihood of success, contact us; our team of experts will be glad to assist you in your quest. The importance of providing clear, complete, and accurate information throughout the process cannot be overstated. Our team will help you choose the right application package that is appropriate for your circumstances, prepare all necessary documents, assist in your credentials assessments, and assist in preparing the applications for both the Principal Applicant and the Sponsor.
If you are unsure about your likelihood for success, contact us for a free evaluation. We will give you a realistic assessment of your chances of success and assist you in developing the best strategy for a successful outcome. We can guide you on how to avoid pitfalls and improve your chances of obtaining permanent residence in Canada.