Are You Feeling Lucky? The New PGP Application Process

The new 2017 parent and grandparent (PGP) application package was released today by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. The new forms are part of changes to the PGP application process that were announced in December 2016 and coincide with the doubling of the number of people who would be accepted through the program from 5,000 to 10,000.


The new parents and grandparents sponsorship program introduces a bit of odds-based immigration from south of the border

The new process involves submitting an expression of interest that includes your name, birth date, country of birth and contact information. The form will be open from January 3, 2017 at noon until February 2, 2017 after which IRCC will then randomly choose 10,000 submissions. Those who are randomly selected will then be invited to send in their complete application package.

The new 2017 application package is essentially the same as the previous package, with the need to establish eligibility and proof of income (see table below). This is now the only type of immigration application that the Government of Canada uses that has a random selection process.

Why did the government make these changes? According to Minister McCallum, “We’re listening to what past applicants had to say and making the process fairer for people who want to sponsor their parents or grandparents. We’re ensuring everyone can access the application process by giving them the same chance to have their name chosen.”

In past years the PGP program was so popular that only applications that were received early would get considered. For example, in 2016 there were 4,000 applications received by 9:43 of the morning of January 4.

The result of first-come first-served was long line ups and courier companies that would camp out to be sure to deliver an application package first thing on the day the office opened. In comparison, this new system should level the odds while introducing a measure of chance.

CBC recently reported the story of Kevork Tanielian, a citizen who came to Canada from Bulgaria in 2010, and was trying to sponsor his mother. Frustrated with the system he was quoted as saying, “imagine if you’re in an emergency room and all the patients are being treated not based on the decisions by the triage nurse, but by some sort of lottery system.” While frustrating in its uncertainty, this type of lottery system is not totally unique.

Since 1994 the USA has a “Green Card lottery”, more formally known as the Diversity Immigrant Visa program. That program is open to those who are coming from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. Last year there were 50,000 permanent resident visas awarded from among the 11,391,134 people who registered for the program. At less than 0.5% success rate (1:200) those are slim odds indeed.

It is unclear what the odds will be in Canada with this new system, as the IRCC office would eventually refuse to receive application packages after the program was filled. While the true demand for the program is unknown, if the Super Visa program is any indicator it could be long odds with the new system. The Super Visa program provides a 10 year multi-entry visa for parent and grandparents who could be waiting to apply for a more permanent program and has issued well over 50,000 visas since the program started in 2011.

Are there any lessons learned for here in Canada? Interestingly, from those who are randomly selected in the US lottery about 50% ultimately do not receive status as they are not eligible or do not elect to proceed with immigration. So be sure to check the eligibility requirements before you consider throwing your name in.

Who is eligible to sponsor a parent / grandparent? 

  • 18 years of age and older
  • Meets minimum income requirements for 2013, 2014 and 2015 (based on the sponsor and co-signer earning 30% more than the Low Income Cut Off, in 2015 for a family of 4 the minimum income was $57,642, see immigration tables in the sponsorship instruction guide)
  • Have not previously failed to provide the financial support you agreed to when you signed a sponsorship agreement to sponsor another relative in the past, or defaulted on an immigration loan
  • Have not defaulted on a court-ordered support order, such as alimony or child support
  • Have not received government financial assistance for reasons other than a disability
  • Have not been convicted of a violent criminal offence, any offence against a relative or any sexual offence—depending on circumstances, such as the nature of the offence, how long ago it occurred and whether a record suspension (formerly called “pardons” in Canada), was issued;
  • Have not declared bankruptcy and have not been released from it yet.

This list is not exhaustive, see also IRCC website