Scot Slessor, consul general of Canada, told TOI that the programme had been a hit with immigrant population, especially Punjabis. While within a month of its announcement in December last year, more than 1,000 visa applications had landed at the Canadian consulate in Chandigarh, the office has seen a rush of over 7,000 applications within a year.
Figures from the citizenship and immigration department of Canada reveal that more than 15,000 people have applied for the new visa since the programme was unveiled last year. Till end of October, the department had processed more than 13,000 applications, of which 87%, or about 11,500, have been accepted.
Under the action plan for ‘faster family unification’, the Canadian government is targeting the admission of 25,000 parents and grandparents for the second year in a row, for a total of 50,000 between this year and next. This is a 60% annual increase from 2010 and the highest level in nearly two decades. It is expected that about 35,000 parents and grandparents will be reunited with their families next year in Canada. More than half of these are expected to be from Punjab.
Last year, after the Canadian government announced it would freeze permanent residency applications from parents and grandparents for two years, it offered the super visa instead, which is being used as stop-gap arrangement for Punjabis. “More than half of the Indo-Canadian population is from Punjab and there are hundreds of elderly people who are just waiting to meet their sons, grandsons, granddaughters and spend time with them. We are just facilitating that,” said Slessor.
However, the super-visa programme has come under sharp attack for its cost factor because it requires the applicant to buy medical insurance coverage for $100,000 and requires their families in Canada to have a certain income level.
Priya Yadav, TNN Dec 10, 2012, 06.44AM IST