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The rules have changed for sponsorships and visas

By Kevin Lamoureux, MP Winnipeg North

As the vice chair of the Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration committee and immigration critic for the Liberal party, I have had the opportunity to be directly involved in some decisions that were recently made. I would like to highlight two very important issues that will have a huge impact on hundreds of people who live in Manitoba, especially for individuals who have family living abroad.

Sponsorship application freeze

First, immigration Canada will no longer be accepting applications to sponsor parents and grandparents for at least two years. The Federal Government made the decision on November 4 and it took effect one day later. Please note that this announcement only effects new applicants, so if you are already in the system, not to worry. There are currently around 165,000 files in this class around the world and approximately 25,000 will be processed in 2012. Those 25,000, plus a number of others can anticipate a letter from the department within eight weeks confirming that they will likely be processed in 2012.

For now the freeze is only for parents and grandparents. Countries like the Philippines will be impacted more than others because the demand to sponsor parents is much higher. Manitoba’s greatest source of immigrants comes from the Philippines and for many people of Filipino heritage, they want to have their parents living with them. I do not support the freeze for a number of reasons but for now I would like to comment on the other announcement that was made at the same time as the freeze.

The Super Visa

The Government of Canada announced the new Super Visa program that took effect December 1. This new visa is only available to people from countries like the Philippines who have children or grandchildren living in Canada. This new Super Visa allows a person to enter and exit Canada as often as they would like during a 10-year period of time but it should be noted that you can not stay in Canada for more than two consecutive years.

The two changes above are significant and I would encourage people to think about what type of visiting visa is best for their situation. My office and I will have more of the details as they become known but for now I want to emphasize the following regarding visiting visas:

  • Whether you are born in Winnipeg or you have recently immigrated, inviting family members from abroad to come to Winnipeg is of great benefit to all and we should be encouraging and supporting a more open-door policy. Sadly, far too many people who apply for visiting visas are refused. The number-one reason for visiting visas being rejected is because the immigration officer from abroad does not believe that the applicant will return.

  • The changes that are taking place combined with the rarely used five-year multi-entry visa does provide options for people to consider. Based on what is being said in the Citizenship and Immigration committee, I am expecting that visa offices worldwide are going to be encouraged to promote not only the traditional short-term visa but also the other two multi-year visas.

In general I will be recommending to people who are wanting family members to visit Canada that they consider first and foremost applying for the five-year multi-entry visa. For parents and grandparents, I will be suggesting the new Super Visa where it makes most sense.

It is important to note that not everyone who applies for a multiple entry visa is issued one. Applications are examined on a case-by-case basis and I am committed to track what is happening at the immigration office in the Philippines. If you are not sure what to do or have any questions, I would encourage you to contact either immigration directly at 1-888-242-2100, any Member of Parliament or feel free to contact my office. If the immigration office follows through with what is being talked about in Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration committee, I am expecting to see some positive outcomes on the issue of visiting visas. My office writes letters of support and we will also be tracking the outcome of the requests so that we will see first hand if the system is getting better.

May I conclude by saying Merry Christmas and the best in the New Year.
Kevin Lamoureux, MP Winnipeg North

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