Why so few Parent and Grandparent Sponsorships?

One of the first things that struck me in the practice of immigration law was how few parents and grandparent sponsorships are applied for and processed. I’ve concluded there are a number of systemic biases why this is the case.

First, the minimum necessary income (“MNI”) requires three years of filed tax returns, all within the guidelines of family size which increase $10,000 for every additional family member (read: baby or grandkids/great-grandkids). Very few new immigrants can earn that much and those that do prefer to hide income in order to stay in a lower tax bracket. This is partly connected to earning prospects for new immigrants. If IRCC knows new Canadians have a ceiling of how much they can earn, then IRCC does not have to worry about more senior citizens applying for PR.

Second, the lengthy processing time and desire to bring aging elders here as soon as possible means newcomers prefer the super-visa or visitor visa. In reality, it is actually four years of MNI because the lengthy processing time means IRCC can request updated MNI for the years the file is in process.

Third, Canada has medical inadmissibility rules which parents and grandparents are likely to fall into the longer the processing goes on. Often an old person who has never traveled, been eating the same food, drinking same water and breathing the same air for their entire life can fall into shock in Canada and develop health problems that may have been delayed in their home country. The whole experience is strange for their body and it reacts to the changes in environment.

The reality, you as a newcomer are looking at 5 years before your parents can get PR and you need to have MNI for all that time, which can increase if you have kids and on top of that, make sure that your parents and grandparents don’t become medically inadmissible. Good luck.

The result: Canada keeps out senior citizens.

In my experience, parents and grandparents who have likely not traveled much and have been use to a large busy home, develop “empty nest syndrome” when their kids immigrate to Canada. The loneliness and longing for their now-overseas children puts them in a depression and often times, triggers a new health problem. Children are torn and want to bring them to Canada. Newcomers will opt for the riskier visitor visas. The visitor visa without medical insurance means more heartache when parents get sick abroad. It is a system that gets worse for the newcomer. Canada may want to prevent senior citizens immigrating to die in Canada. But the result, is a poor welcome and bitter start to the life of young immigrants.


Let newcomers know at landing the consequences of hiding income and how it will make sponsoring parents/grandparents more difficult.

Grant a single-entry courtesy-visa to all parents and grand-parents when approving the PR applicants. The visa doesn’t have to be the lengthy 6 months, but a 2 month maximum which is normal period of visit for parent/grandparent visitors.

Create a separate medical inadmissibility assessment that addresses age-related illnesses and diseases and is streamlined for parents/grandparents.

The most drastic idea would be to not involve CRA at all in assessing MNI. Just show bank statements. Other immigration streams focus on bank statements and GICs. Why not use the same method? Why does CRA have to get involved in the process? If the parents can transfer money to their children to care for them, that should be sufficient. The requirement the money earned originate in Canada may create an incentive to work harder, but many seniors have already built up much wealth by the time they immigrate.

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close