December 10, 2008

By Nouman Khalil, The South Asian Focus

Parental sponsorship will likely be a major casualty of the economic crisis in Canada, says a top immigration consultant.
While there might be a case for denying sponsorships when jobless applicants might be finding it hard to care for their families, it would still be hard on them to have the rug pulled out from under their feet if they've lost their job just at the time the officials call for verification, the consultant pointed out.

"It all depends when they (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) call the sponsor. A person will be very unlucky if he is not working at the time the call is made," said attorney David Cohen of Canadian Immigration Law Firm (www.canadavisa.com).

He noted if the person happens to be unemployed at that moment, his sponsorship papers will in all probability be summarily rejected.

A sizeable proportion of South Asian communities tend to sponsor their relatives or submit applications to bring their family members to Canada. Typically, parents and grandparents are considered part of the same family, a cultural truism that Canadian laws have refused to acknowledge.

The Conservative government has often reiterated its commitment and belief in family reunification. But NDP MP and immigration critic Olivia Chow has just as often been critical of the federal government's immigration policy, terming it anti-family reunification.

No response was forthcoming from CIC Minister Jason Kenney on the issue.

Canada lost more than 70,000 jobs in November- the largest loss in a single month since the deep recession in of the 1980s. Ontario faced the brunt, choking off 66,000 jobs during November.

Experts believe that after Christmas, especially in first quarter 2009, jobless numbers will go even higher.

Canadians will probably see a considerable number of refusals of sponsorship cases in the New Year due to soaring rate of unemployment, Cohen indicated.

"It's not happening yet, but unfortunately as the unemployment rate starts going up, the sponsors will suffer just like other Canadians," he said.

Cohen argued that upon refusal, the sponsor can appeal on humanitarian and compassionate grounds to allow the sponsorship to go through, or would again have to go through the entire process from scratch.

"Upon refusal everyone deserves the right to appeal," said Cohen. He however didn't guarantee whether such appeals would be successful, noting: "It all depends on the nature of each case."

The consultant clarified Citizenship and Immigration Canada does not require any income criteria for a Canadian or permanent resident to sponsor a spouse or dependent children.

"The income provision is only to sponsor parents, grandparents or relatives other than spouse and children," said Cohen. "As long as you are not getting welfare, you are good and don't have any income obligation."