Processing times for Canadian Visas (Parent Sponsorships)

By Author: Admin | February 20, 2011

Certain family class visas (i.e. for Canadians sponsoring parents and spouses) are subject to different processing times depending on where the sponsored parent/spouse is living.  A particularly extreme example of delay relates to the sponsorship of parents.   It is currently taking at least three years for most Asian-based, Canadian visa offices to process a parental sponsorship – after the file has been sitting for over three years at an immigration office inside of Canada.  That three year figure can balloon to five years if the sponsored parent has a health condition that is examined repeatedly by the Canadian immigration department, leading to eight years of processing time.  The processing time is projected to be 13 years as a result of changed priorities at Canada’s Immigration Department.

By contrast a parent sponsorship at Buffalo often takes much less time, in my experience as little as one year (assuming there are no medical issues with the parent).  Part of the disparate processing times can be attributed to understaffing at the visa offices where there is a larger demand for Canadian visas such as New Delhi, Beijing, and Manila, as well as the lower allocation of visas given to sponsored parents by the Canada’s immigration department.

The reasons for processing parents so slowly is probably because sponsoring parents constitutes the lowest priority for Canada’s immigration department.  The fact that the parents being sponsored are for the most part aged is also another factor; their relative age, combined with the long delay would make complete processing unnecessary, especially if the parent passes away during the course of processing).  Further, there is the idea that parents don’t contribute to Canada’s economy (despite the fact that being under the family class, they are not expected to do so, in contrast to the skilled worker class).

The other somewhat punishing aspect of Canada’s immigration program towards parents is the constant request for medicals of elderly applicants for immigration under the Family Class.  I have seen a case where a sponsored parent was asked for heart tests from a cardiologist three times.  The inherent stress of an older person undergoing a physically demanding test is arguably aimed at trying to render the sponsored parent medically inadmissible; it is like imposing extra opportunities for the parent to fail the medical, and hence be refused on the grounds of medical inadmissibility.

Many of my clients with parents in this situation complain that since they pay taxes, their parents should be allowed to at the very least, visit Canada.  The immigration department disagrees. Visitor visa applications to allow a parent to come temporarily are often met with refusal, along with a stamp in the refused applicant’s passport, making it more difficult to apply for a visitor visa a subsequent time.  It appears that Canada’s Immigration department would rather have parents remain in their home country, and be visited by their Canadian based children and grandchildren. The problem with this recommendation is that it is being made by the immigration department, consisting of Canadian civil servants who receive an enviable amount of vacation time, along with job security.  The vast majority of Canadians working in the private sector, however, have less vacation time and are often compelled to give up their vacation time.  This may be due to work pressures, or from household debt that is over stretched.    As anyone who has boarded a plane for 10 hours or more knows jet lag takes up a few days of vacation time.

grandparent with grandson - a relationship of lower importance to Canada's Immigration Authorities

The immigration department ignores the anecdotal and substantive evidence that adolescent children of economically stressed parents benefit from the presence of grandparents.  To Canada’s immigration department, elderly parents are useless, and a drag on our health system; their contribution does not show up on a company balance sheet, so it effectively non-existent.  Canada’s immigration department would rather that have children of struggling immigrant parents  see a social worker or a psychologist – as can be seen by the fact that both of these occupations are on the current occupation list for immigration to Canada.


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I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario Canada. I am an accomplished author and lecturer and am consulted by the media and other immigration lawyers and consultants on immigration matters and challenging immigration cases, appeals, and federal court matters.

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