The family is family, after all. How long can you really stay away from them?
These days, it’s not uncommon for family members to be living abroad. With globalization, parents are seeing their kids move to different cities and countries to pursue their education and work. While the prospects of living in a new culture can be exciting, it always brings with it the gut-wrenching feeling of missing your family.
These days, things are getting better. Gone are the days when you had to wait for years to see your parents or relatives from overseas. In less than 24 hours, your immediate family can come and visit you.
In fact, there’s a growing trend of countries being even more open to inviting a migrant’s immediate family members to stay for longer periods of time – either to reunite the family, or just a long visit.
My friends, enter the Super Visa!
What is a Super Visa?
It all started in November 4, 2011, when the Citizenship and Immigration Canada stopped accepting new applications for sponsorship of parents and grandparents to enter Canada. In its place, the department introduced a long-term temporary resident visa, the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa.
As the name suggests, the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa is a visa given to parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens or permanent residents so that they can enter Canada. It is more like a temporary residence permit that allows these parents and grandparents a stay of maximum 2 years at a time.
It is a long-term visa valid for 10 years. Within this 10-year time frame, a visa holder can make multiple entries into the country.
What makes this visa so “super”?
It is truly a super for immigrants’ family members because other available multi-entry visa only offer stays of 6 months (max) per visit.
Problems associated with super visa approval and possible solutions
This sounds all fine and well. But like they say, the devil’s in the details. In this case, the real problem starts as one gets into the application procedure.
Like any other visa in the world, the Canadian government has set numerous eligibility criteria for the Super Visa. This is a multi-dimensional eligibility standard including financial and medical criteria.
To be eligible for super visa, a parent or grandparent
- Must fulfill a long list of conditions.
- Must be admissible to the country.
- Must possess a letter of financial support sent by his/her child or grandchild.
- Must purchase a Canadian medical insurance of a minimum specified coverage.
To top things off, the eligibility criteria becomes even stricter if a parent or grandparent is a citizen of a country where an entry into Canada typically requires a separate visa.
In particular, let’s look at some common challenges immigrant families face when applying for a super visa:
1. It’s expensive
Though on paper, the visa is for all who meet the eligibility criteria, in reality, it has become a luxury that only ultra-rich Canadian citizens and permanent residents can afford.
The first hurdle is the minimum income requirement criterion. You are only eligible to apply for this visa if your child or grandchild earns at least a specified amount every year set by CIC. This specified amount varies with your child or grandchild’s family size.
2. You need mandatory health insurance
The second hurdle is mandatory health insurance. It’s commonly accepted that this is by far the biggest obstacle that could stop you from bringing your parents or grandparents to Canada.
Private insurance companies can charge you a wide range (a whopping $2000 to $4000) depending on the age and health condition of the potential insured. While forking out a couple of thousand dollars is enough to make most of us dizzy, it’s really the wide range that you could be charged that makes an application so uncertain and foreboding.
My advice would be to start looking for private health insurers early. You can use service providers like Maxxlife Financial Inc. that help you compare different quotes for Super Visa insurance. It’s certainly a lot of work, but it will be well worth it if it can save you thousands of dollars.
3. It’s hard to prove medical fitness
Your application for Super Visa will be processed only if you provide the required medical fitness certificates. Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule as to which medical certificates will be needed in your case.
There have been cases where the CIC has asked applicants to undergo a second medical test with a different medical practitioner. The CIC justifies itself by saying that only trusted medical practitioners can carry out the tests. Regardless, it can be a really frustrating situation for the applicant (especially if it involves your elderly parents!)
A good tip to follow would be: always follow CIC’s guidelines in getting your medical certificates. Remember, never try to hide anything! It’s likely that you’d have to pay a bigger price for this dishonesty in future.
Note that each and every bit of information you provide is cross-checked. So be upfront and honest about your health information, origin, your criminal records etc.
Falsification may be the reason for the cancellation of your application (duh). But worse, it may also completely shut down your ability to reapply in the future.
4. Too many documents, too little time
In face of growing terrorism worldwide, the visa application and granting procedures are becoming more complicated by the day. There are so many things to declare, a lot of things to prove and establish.
Super visa applicants and their families in Canada are perhaps the worst hit. Some parents and mostly grandparents were born, say, 70-80 years ago and may never have had a birth certificate (my own grandma doesn’t know her real age because of this!)
And it’s not like the CIC allows you as much time as you need to arrange and submit such documents. They usually require you to submit these documents within 90 days of your application. Otherwise, your application is going to be canceled.
Tip: There are numerous resources online that tell you which documents are generally necessary to make a Super Visa application. Get the documents handy first, and then start the application procedure.
Hey, I totally understand. You are eagerly want to spend some quality time with your parents or grandparents. But you need to get your ducks in a row, or your chances of getting your application approved can be reduced to zilch.
Do the necessary research to be sure that your parent or grandparent qualifies for this visa. Then arrange for the necessary documents on both theirs and your side.
By taking these steps, you can apply with confidence even when the CIC asks to meet with you.
Have you ever applied for a Super Visa? What steps did you take to ensure that your application was approved? Let me know what your experience was in the comments!