How to Sponsor Your Relatives for Canada’s Unique PGP Program


A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern, Ksenia started her legal career at one of Canada’s top immigration firms, where she operated her own immigration law practice, with a focus on corporate and individual immigration applications.
pgp program

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has now issued more than 30,000 invitations for its unique Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP). This scheme enables Canadians and permanent residents to sponsor qualifying relatives and bring them to live in Canada.

IRCC has stated that: “Family reunification plays a significant role in attracting, retaining and integrating immigrants who contribute to our success as a country.”

As a result, parents and grandparents sponsored by family members will receive permanent residency in Canada, with the usual related benefits (such as the country’s highly coveted free health care).

However, demand to sponsor is usually significant — and COVID-19-related disruptions meant 2021’s lottery was the biggest so far.

IRCC initially intended to invite 20,000 sponsors last year and 20,000 more this year. But just 10,000 were issued in 2020, and the remaining 10,000 were added to 2021’s standard amount.

Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor was required to submit their “interest to sponsor” forms on the IRCC website in October/November 2020. A lottery determined which sponsors received an invitation to apply to be a sponsor, and the IRCC has finally finished sending all 30,000.

What should you do if you have received an invitation?

In this post, we’ll answer this and other crucial questions to help you get started.

What you need to know about applying to sponsor a relative in the PGP program

After receiving your invitation, you have just 60 days to prepare and submit a complete application form.

But you must meet the IRCC eligibility criteria to qualify as a sponsor. This covers:

Age and residency status

You must be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or be status First Nations over 18 years old.

Minimum Necessary Income (MNI)

You must submit your Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) notices for the 2020, 2019, and 2018 tax years to prove to IRCC that you have earned the Minimum Necessary Income (MNI) for those three consecutive years.

This will demonstrate that you can support yourself, your family unit, and anyone you intend to sponsor.

Your family unit may include:

  • A spouse or partner.
  • Dependent children.
  • Relatives you have sponsored previously.
  • A spouse/partner’s dependent children.

For sponsors living outside the Province of Quebec, the MNI for the 2020 tax year is:

  • $32,270 (when responsible for 2 people).
  • $39,672 (when responsible for 3 people).
  • $48,167 (when responsible for 4 people).
  • $54,630 (when responsible for 5 people).
  • $61,613 (when responsible for 6 people).
  • $68,598 (when responsible for 7 people).

You should add $6,985 for each extra person if you’re responsible for more than 7 people.

However, IRCC has amended its requirements in 2021 to accommodate those sponsors who may have experienced financial difficulties during the pandemic. As a result, the income requirement for the 2020 tax year has been dropped to the MNI only rather than the MNI plus 30% as before.

Additionally, family class sponsors can include the following benefits in their income calculations for the tax year:

  • Standard Employment Insurance benefits (instead of only Special Employment Insurance benefits).
  • All Canada Emergency Response Benefits (CERB) issued under the Employment Insurance Act or the CERB Act.
  • Other temporary benefits related to the pandemic, provided they’re not included in provincial social assistance programs.

However, you don’t need to have been a permanent resident or citizen for those three years to apply.

Even if you want to sponsor one parent (for example, if they’re estranged or separated from your other parent), you will need to account for both of them in your MNI calculations.

Completing the application in full

Make sure you only submit a complete application: that means you finish everything included in the checklist — every single question, every single box. No mistakes or omissions.

The IRCC has sent applications back to potential sponsors who overlook just one box or forget to attach a document. If this happens, you will need to wait for the next draw as you cannot resubmit an application or make an appeal.

What can you do if you don’t receive an invitation to sponsor?

IRCC has yet to confirm whether or not it will launch the PGP program in 2022. If you didn’t receive an invitation to apply, you may feel concerned that you will have no way to bring your relatives to live in Canada.

Fortunately, you may be eligible for a super visa instead.

The super visa for parents and grandparents provides qualifying family members from outside Canada to visit the country for up to two years, without needing to renew their status. Most people visiting Canada on a standard visa can stay for as many as six months, but they need to apply for an extension and pay an accompanying fee.

As a multi-entry visa, this allows multiple two-year entries for up to a decade. The eligibility requirements are similar to those of the PGP, but parents and grandparents will need medical insurance for at least one year from the date of entry (with $100,000 coverage minimum).

Eligible persons will be the parents or grandparents of permanent residents or Canadian citizens. They will need to have an immigration medical exam, and you should meet the MNI to show you can support them for their stay if needed.

You can still take part in the PGP lottery or other initiatives launched by the IRCC during the super visa timeframe.

How to find the best immigration help in Toronto

If you have been invited to apply to sponsor parents or grandparents, you may find immigration eligibility, applications, and fees daunting.

But they don’t have to be.

At Abramovich & Tchern, we’re experienced Canadian immigration lawyers dedicated to providing clients with honest advice and unparalleled advocacy.

Whether you want to sponsor one parent, two, or your grandparents, we can help you understand the application process and its potential complications in detail.

To learn more about Abramovich & Tchern, contact our Toronto immigration lawyers today.

Ksenia Tchern

A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern, Ksenia started her legal career at one of Canada’s top immigration firms, where she operated her own immigration law practice, with a focus on corporate and individual immigration applications.