Update: The Toronto Star reports that the CIC may be looking at ways to change the visa admissibility of parents and grandparents. Here is what I had to say about the issue a while back:
Earlier this year, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced their visa targets for 2011. The announcement caused some controversy, as the number of sponsored parents being allowed entry into Canada would be reduced significantly.
Right now, it can take anywhere from 5 to 7 years to complete the processing of sponsored parents, depending on their geographic location. Now picture this: there is currently a backlog of 120,000 persons awaiting processing, while the target for final processing in 2011 is only 11,000 people. If this trend continues, it will take more than 10 years for parents or grandparents to join their children in Canada.
How did this come about? If you look closely at the statistics, you will find that there is a large number of parental sponsorships awaiting processing in Asia, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines and China. However, in the postwar era up until the 80s and 90s, immigration to Canada was predominantly European. Back then, there was simply a lower tendency to sponsor parents. After all, it was easy to visit parents in Europe, and Western European parents could likewise visit their kids without much trouble.
“A more rational approach to the processing of parents’ visas is long overdue.”
From my perspective, the problem we have now is that all sponsored parents and grandparents are treated the same as a homogeneous group, no matter their geographic location or their family circumstances. Yet in that group, you can have widowed parents, and parents with dependents, two groups in two different situations.
I believe the ministry should look at creating subgroups. I believe that widowed mothers and fathers should be given the highest priority, second should be parents without dependent children, and finally parents with dependent children. In the case of the last group, I would suggest that parents with dependents should be further divided based on where the balance of the family is, either overseas or in Canada.
Another thought would be to give parents preference by age. For example, parents in their 60’s would be given preference over parents 50 and younger. Perhaps a point system based on some of these principles could be developed in order to make the rules clear to everyone.
When dealing with immigration issues, sometimes the stats get in the way. We are not simply dealing with numbers on a page or arbitrary targets. We are dealing with living, breathing people who just want to see their loved ones. We should be doing all we can do make this happen as fairly and efficiently as possible.
A more rational approach to the processing of parents’ visas is long overdue.