Canada easing income requirements for family-class immigration

Published on October 5th, 2020 at 05:10pm EDT

Canada is easing income requirements on family-class immigration applicants to allow people to sponsor their loved ones, even if they lost income due to coronavirus.

The new temporary public policy means that Canadians who are sponsoring their foreign national family members do not have to make 30 per cent more than the minimum income requirement for their region in 2020. Sponsors will also be able to count regular Employment Insurance benefits in their income calculations for this year, as opposed to just special EI benefits.

These changes do not apply to Quebec sponsors, as the province has its own family sponsorship program.

Sponsors must still meet the minimum necessary income, and all other application requirements pertaining to other relevant taxation years. This means that in every other relevant year, they need to meet the additional 30 per cent income requirement, and they can only have special Employment Insurance benefits contribute to that total.

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The new measures apply to Canadians applying through the Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP), which will open to expressions of interest on October 13. They also apply to the following types of family members:

  • spouses and common-law partners;
  • dependent children;
  • minor siblings, nieces and nephews, and grand children whose parents are deceased; and
  • relatives of the sponsor, regardless of age, if the sponsor does not have any close family relatives who are Canadian.

The new policy came into effect on October 2nd, and will end when all eligible applications are processed.

The new ministerial instructions signed by the minister of immigration, Marco Mendicino, state that the reason for the exemption is due to the financial challenges that Canadians have faced during the coronavirus pandemic. Many businesses had to close, or reduce staff and as such many people claimed unemployment benefits or lost income.

“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the income requirement for tax year 2020 will be more difficult for some sponsors to meet,” read Mendicino’s instructions, “This could result in otherwise eligible permanent residence applicants having their application refused, including both current and future applicants in the family class whose sponsor must meet a minimum income requirement.”

The new policy is meant to ensure that sponsors are not unfairly impacted by the effects of the pandemic in their sponsorship applications for this year, or any future year where income levels for 2020 would affect eligibility.

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