Super Visa and the sponsorship
The government’s introduction of the Super Visa has been met by mostly positive comments from community members and expert commentaries. The Citizenship and Immigration Canada web site proudly proclaims the wide acceptance of the initiative – “Super Visa earning rave reviews” – and quotes comments in support of the initiative from both the NDP Immigration Critic Don Davies and the Liberal Immigration Critic, Kevin Lamoureux. It has even drawn the support of Richard Kurland, a Vancouver based immigration lawyer who warned us of the threat posed by the federal government’s proposed cuts in family sponsorship before the federal election this last spring. There is no question that the Super Visa has a certain attraction and that it actually meets the needs of many newcomer families.
However, the reader should take note of the official reasons given for the implementation of the Super Visa. In his announcement of November 4, 2011 the federal immigration minister, Jason Kenny, said that something must be done about the current backlog of 165,000 parents and grandparents who have applied for permanent residency. This number is projected to increase by sponsorships of nearly 38,000 per year.
“Wait times for Family Class sponsorship applicants for parents and grandparents now exceed seven years, and without taking action, those times will continue to grow, and that is unacceptable,” said Kenny concludes. “Action must be taken to cut the backlog, reduce the wait times, and ensure that the parents and grandparents program is sustainable over the long run,” he concluded.
The Minister’s announcement was broken down into several component parts:
The introduction of the Super Visa has become then something of a mixed blessing. Waiting times of seven or eight years for parents and grandparents is something most Canadians would consider unreasonable. Also, there are many newcomers who do not want parents or grandparents to immigrate to Canada but only want them to come for extended visits. However, we must be mindful of the fact that a two-year moratorium on sponsorship of parents and grandparents may be too drastic a measure. NDP immigration critic Don Davies says the freeze is not fair, especially without giving any notice.
“I think there’s an awful lot of people in this country who came to this country under rules that permitted them to sponsor their parents, and they’re not going to be able to do so,” said Davies.
At this time, however, the federal Super Visa is all the talk and it is difficult for people to remain objective and not get caught up in the excitement of the moment. I, for one, am concerned about the manner in which the changes to the sponsorship of parents and grandparents were announced. Similar changes to the temporary residents visa (TRV) were actually announced in July of this year but they were neither widely publicized nor called “Super Visas.” Rather this term was apparently to a second version of TRV changes which were announced with the freeze. It looked like a way to cushion the impact of a two year freeze and make it more palatable for the interested public. This seems like some kind of shell game with bad news wrapped in good news. Our real challenge is to find out what Minister Kenny’s real intentions are.
Is it necessary to freeze sponsorships in order to clear up a backlog? What about NPD critic Don Davies’ suggestion to hire more staff? There is no mention about additional staff resources. Did the Minister once again announce a change without warning because he feared too many people would submit last minute applications? This is the same Jason Kenny who earlier said that he would not warn potential skilled worker applications about changes in the caps for the 29 acceptable occupations because he feared this would prompt them to submit last minute applications. He does not sound like someone who is very respectful of applicants or considerate of their needs. Is this what the federal government means about having an honest and open consultation with the communities? The federal government has acted independently several times without warning so why would we expect them to do anything different two years from now? Could the government be considering the removal of all future parent and grandparent sponsorships? What does Minister Kenny really think about immigration and the value newcomers and their parents and grandparents bring to the country? Rather than bathing in the euphoria of the Super Visa, readers must ask themselves, are they better off with the Super Visa at the cost of not being able to sponsor parents and grandparents for the next two years?
Michael Scott BA (Hon), MA, is a 30-year veteran of Canada Immigration and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program who works as an immigration associate with R.B. Global Immigration Consultants Ltd. He can be reached at 838 Ellice Avenue in Winnipeg, (204) 783-7326 or (204) 227-0292. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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