Canada says it would lengthen ‘tremendous visa’ stays, loosen up health-insurance restrictions to ease household reunifications

Beginning subsequent month, the federal authorities will lengthen how lengthy Canadians’ visiting mother and father and grandparents can keep on this nation and permit them to make use of overseas medical insurance throughout their time right here — two long-sought changes to this nation’s controversial “tremendous visa” program.

The modifications will come into impact July 4.

The shock announcement from Immigration Minister Sean Fraser on Tuesday got here within the wake of an ongoing evaluation by the parliamentary immigration committee of a personal member’s invoice, C-242, to amend the regulation to make these actual modifications. It was a bid to ease household reunification for Canadians who’ve mother and father and grandparents overseas.

“The enhancements to the tremendous visa program enable members of the family to reunite for longer in Canada, which helps on a regular basis Canadian residents and everlasting residents succeed and contribute to society, whereas affording their mother and father and grandparents invaluable alternatives to spend time with their household in Canada,” Fraser mentioned.

The committee had already held three conferences and heard from witnesses in response to the Reuniting Households Act, which additionally sought to ask immigration officers to organize and desk a report on lowering the minimal revenue requirement {that a} Canadian sponsor should meet to ensure that their mother and father or grandparents to remain right here for an prolonged interval.

The so-called tremendous visa — a multiple-entry customer visa legitimate for 10 years — at present permits the holder to remain right here for a most two years at a time. That can now be prolonged to as much as 5 years.

However as a way to get a brilliant visa, the customer had wanted to be coated by a Canadian medical insurance firm, a price that might vary between $1,800 and $5,000 a yr, relying on the protection, age and well being situations of the insured individual. Insurance coverage by overseas entities are anticipated to be less expensive.

Tremendous visas are supposed to provide a short lived aid for folks and grandparents who’re unable to win the lottery held by the immigration division every year to decide on who could be sponsored as everlasting residents by their youngsters or grandchildren in Canada. There are restricted spots for such sponsorship yearly, 20,000 pre-COVID in 2019 and 30,000 final yr.

The modifications launched Tuesday will enable the immigration minister to designate worldwide medical insurance coverage firms to offer protection to tremendous visa candidates. Particulars of designated suppliers shall be posted on the division web site later.

Final week, a senior immigration division official advised the parliamentary committee that there have been no want to usher in modifications to the tremendous visa program.

“Beneath the present tremendous visa, purchasers can request extensions whereas right here, which means that they have already got the chance to remain for 5 years and even longer while not having to depart Canada,” mentioned Michele Kingsley, a director normal of the immigration division.

“Permitting overseas suppliers as proposed by the invoice would require consultations with health-sector consultants, in addition to with provinces and territories to find out which standards must be included in such a designation scheme. Merely put, there are various unknown impacts of broadening medical insurance to overseas suppliers.”

Advocates for Canadians concerned about sponsoring mother and father and grandparents have mentioned the modifications to tremendous visa are simply “Band-Assist” options in lieu of an overhaul of the sponsorship course of.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan mentioned the Liberal authorities has had years to handle the drawbacks with the mother and father and grandparents immigration streams and that Fraser’s “half-measure” announcement is supposed to “sideline” Invoice C-242.

“Households longing to reunite with their family members have needed to endure severe boundaries over time. They ranged from lengthy delays in processing (generally so long as 10 years) to being subjected to a lottery scheme the place, actually, reunification is predicated on the luck of the draw,” Kwan advised the Star.

“What is de facto wanted is for the Liberal authorities to elevate the boundaries for the mother and father and grandparents’ reunification stream as soon as and for all.”

Nicholas Keung is a Toronto-based reporter overlaying immigration for the Star. Observe him on Twitter: @nkeung


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