The Super Visa, two months later
The Super Visa was released in November 2011 with the wild support of pundits and politicians as the best thing since sliced bread. I remember reading a front page Winnipeg Free Press article about the Super Visa endorsed by the liberal MP for Winnipeg North. There was even a picture of a young family sitting outside his office with smiles on their faces at the thought of bringing mom or lola to Canada for more than six months.
The high cost of travel insurance now dominates conversations on the Super Visa and the same politician has now changed his support to opposition. The same people who rushed to get credit for the federal immigration change are now rushing to distance themselves from the negative fallout. It is no small wonder that this writer and the wider electorate question the sincerity of those who change positions as quickly as the wind.
My concern about the federal government’s opposition to the sponsorship of parents is on the record and open to all readers. Read Ask Tito Mike articles from early 2011 and you’ll see that I have consistently opposed all attacks on the sponsorship of parents and grandparents. I was disappointed but not surprised that the sponsorship of parents was suspended for two years in November 2011 and, yes, I continue to be suspicious of the government’s real intention. Does the Harper government really intend to restore the sponsorship of parents once the backlog is cleared up? What about the Super Visa, which the same majority government announced as a replacement for sponsorship?
What is the Super Visa?
It is too simplistic to say that the Super Visa was a replacement for the suspended sponsorship of parents. The official announcement was that a two-year moratorium was required to clear up the backlog and make sponsorship of parents and grandparents more efficient. The logic of stopping something to save it escapes me. The government took away a program, which we consider a right of all Canadians, but gave us the Super Visa in its place. My opinion is that this change was intended to cushion the backlash against the freeze on the sponsorship of parents. Where was the outrage at the suspension of parental sponsorship in November? There was little or none at the time.
The Super Visa is little more than a modification of the Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) application stream with added safeguards for the government and added responsibilities and costs for applicants and sponsors/hosts. My editor in chief, Emmie Joaquin, was correct in her editorial in December when she said that the cost of $100,000 of travel insurance was expensive and outside the means of many in the local community. I could join the chorus of public opposition to the Super Visa but for what purpose? In my earlier article on the Super Visa, I outlined the requirements for potential applicants and sponsors because it is important to explain what is required. Now I feel the need to add some balance to the debate. There are advantages to the Super Visa.
Super Visa recap
The Super Visa is a TRV given to parents or grandparents of Canadian citizens or permanent residents who wish to visit family in Canada. Once the visa is obtained parents or grandparents can remain in Canada for up to two (2) years without the need to extend their status. The parents or grandparents must be admissible, have the required medical insurance in place and meet other requirements, such as the need for the sponsors or hosts to meet an income requirement (LICO or Low Income Cut Off), which varies with the size of the family. For example, the LICO numbers for 2012 are $28,182 for family of two or $47,710 for a family of five persons. The sponsor would have to meet this minimum necessary income to be eligible to support their parents’ or grandparents’ application.
The insurance costs are somewhere in a range of about $1,000 to $2,000 per year, paid in full and up front. The actual numbers vary by applicant and insurance company, so I encourage you to contact insurance brokers about the actual costs and the terms and conditions.
There are other things that should also be considered such as the applicant’s ties to the home country, the purpose of their visit, and the overall economic and political stability of the home country.
Advantages of the Super Visa
The Super Visa does have some noticeable benefits. It does work for those who have money but it is not a program that only benefits rich Canadians. Consider for one moment a scenario that we are all familiar with: a daughter in Winnipeg is married with three older teenaged children. She sponsored her mother in early 2011 – before the freeze – and continues to send roughly $400.00 every month to the Philippines for her mother’s support and welfare. The total yearly cost is $4,800 and this can be compared to the costs of a Super Visa for the same mom, which might cost $4,000 but for two years, and the visitor would have the chance to extend her visa up to ten years in total.
A second scenario is a recently arrived young couple with pre-school-aged children who do not have the benefit of extended family in Winnipeg. They could hire a babysitter or put the children in pre-school or daycare and probably have higher out of pocket expenses than the Super Visa premium. Just think, for the same money or lower, you could bring in parents or grandparents to watch the kids just like they did back home.
No one wants or expects to pay the health costs of our visitors but the numbers should be reasonable. As Canadian families and hosts we have all been paying for health coverage for our visitors out of our pockets. Travel insurance is a good idea for older travelers but what is the justification for a minimum $100,000 worth of yearly insurance? Why not $50,000 or $25,000?
I did not have the chance to raise this question with the Minister of Immigration but I leave this to our elected officials, the news media and question period in the House of Commons. However, I did ask my wife Lourdes Troncillo-Scott and Pilipino Express editor Emmie Joaquin, both long-time insurance brokers, and they also wondered why $100,000 was set as a minimum. Because I live with someone who makes a living selling insurance, I also know that the various companies are trying to design more cost effective products for the Super Visa.
In closing there are advantages to the Super Visa and in some cases it is an even cheaper alternative, so the press should not be all bad. We should wonder aloud about public persons who were strong supporters one day and even stronger detractors the next. Who knows? After reading this article they may change and once again support the Super Visa.
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: email@example.com