Canada Shows U.S. How Not to Deal with an Immigration Visa Backlog

By David North on November 7, 2011

To one who generally thinks highly of Canada's rational, evidence-based government, the Toronto Globe and Mail headline sounded promising: "Immigration Minister hits pause on family reunification applications."

The Canadians, I first thought, are doing something useful about limiting family visas, the kind of visas which unfortunately predominate in the U.S., generally bringing us lightly-educated, lightly-skilled, low-income migrants. (The employment-based ones tend to be better educated and more likely to succeed in the U.S.)

The article said: "The Harper [conservative] government is placing a two-year moratorium on applications from parents and grandparents . . . in an effort to reduce a growing backlog."

The devilish details indicate that the Canadians are doing nothing to reduce the ongoing flow of parents and grandparents, they are doing exactly the opposite. Further, while Canada has a well-deserved reputation of rationality, it accepts grandparents, a group of immigrants even our nepotistic policies does not include.

Canada had an annual quota of about 15,500 parents and grandparents, by definition almost all ancestors of earlier waves of immigrants. It had a 165,000 backlog of applications, which would take more than ten years to exhaust. What to do?

According to the official announcement from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the government will "put in place a temporary pause of up to 24 months on the acceptance of new sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents."

But, on the other hand, the government will increase the annual limit from about 15,500 to 25,000, in an effort to decrease the backlog in the long run, while, at the same time creating a new nonimmigrant visa – apparently with no numerical limits – called the "Parent and Grandparent Super Visa."

This will be good for 10 years, and for an unlimited number of visits. The recipients will be able to stay in the country for up to two years at a time, but must obtain their own health insurance. One wonders if simply crossing the border into the U.S. and returning will be enough to renew the "Super Visa."

Incidentally, can you imagine those nice Canadians saying to the nonimmigrant grandparent, who has been brought into the emergency room with a heart attack, "sorry old boy, we cannot do a thing for you."

Maybe the Harper administration is getting technical advice from the Obama administration on how to disguise its immigration policies.

Topics: Canada