Effect on Canada by the Greek Crisis

Klaudios Mustakas – Senior Immigration Advisor: With the current financial crisis in Greece, we have been receiving many inquiries to see if any special measures are in place so that citizens of Greece can come to live in Canada. The short answer is, “No.”

Visiting Canada

Like citizens of other visa-free countries, Greeks are still allowed to visit Canada without first applying for a visitor visa. Most are allowed to stay in Canada for a maximum of 6 months.

It’s important to note that the visit duration is always at the discretion of the immigration official who meets the traveler at the Canadian border. If the passport is simply stamped with the date of entry without any other notation, then the traveler has an automatic 6 month status as a visitor. However, the officer may shorten that period, depending on funds available for the trip and the date of the return ticket.

For example, let’s say a visitor declares that they’re going to stay in Canada for six months, then when questioned further they say that they have limited access to funds or are broke. The border official will wonder how that traveler expects to sustain themselves in Canada for half a year and may shorten their stay.

Tip: border officials don’t ask you about work and money in order to chit chat. They’re trying to figure out if you can support yourself and if you have a job that requires you to go home soon.

Money Matters

Financial factors could easily come into play for visitors from Greece right now, as the bad economic news from there has come with reports of Greeks not being able to access their money even if they’re standing in Athens.

Money also matters because any visitor in Canada is usually not allowed to work or attend full time school, though certain exceptions are made when taking language courses.

Parents of Canadians and Permanent Residents

Parents of Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents are usually given the same treatment as regular visitors. However, once here they can apply for an extension of up to 2 years. These type of cases must have an eligible sponsoring child who has the financial means (full time work) to support the parent, as well as private medical coverage for the parent.

Again, final approval rests with the immigration officer who is handling the individual case. It is possible for the sponsoring child to sponsor their parents to remain in Canada permanently, but this is more complicated than simple visitor visas and has many limitations.

Sponsoring Parents to Remain in Canada Permanently

The current rules around parental sponsorship are very tight. Right now, the Canadian government only accepts 5,000 cases of parent or grandparent sponsorship per year, and that 5,000 goes in the blink of an eye. This year, the quota was reached by January 15, 2015, and no new cases can be submitted before January, 2016. I expect the visas in 2016 will go just as quickly.

Spousal Sponsorship

If you are a Canadian who has married a person from Greece, you have two options to sponsor them to Canada. The first is to sponsor the individual before they come to Canada. The application will be processed at the Canadian embassy in Rome (the Canadian embassy in Athens does not process immigration cases) and after 12 months or so of processing, the individual will be issued their Permanent Residence and be allowed to move permanently to Canada.

The second option is to come to Canada as a visitor and then have the Canadian sponsor submit a formal application to sponsor them. This process has a total processing time of more than 24 months. However, if the proposed sponsored individual has valid visitor status they can apply for an open work authorization. Pace Law Firm has completed thousands of these type of cases and would be able to assist you with either option.

Klaudios Mustakas is a former senior manager with the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). He has 37 years of federal government service, including international diplomatic assignments in the United States and the Middle East. He retired as Chief, Enforcement (CBSA) in December, 2010.

photo credit: Greece wallflag via photopin (license)

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