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Supervisa 7

The recently announced Super Visa program has resulted in mostly positive opinions from pundits and immigrant organizations. The goal of reducing the wait times for visitors to Canada has most people praising this new legislation.

It has already been shown how popular this new program is (evidenced by the rush to apply in visa offices around the world). The promised likelihood of a complete and qualified application resulting in an entry visa within 8 weeks has resulted in a system that may be unprepared for the onslaught.

Minister Kenney states that 8 weeks is the goal, but as with anything, the line-ups get longer when customers see a really good deal. In any case, the facilitation of these relatives’ entry into Canada will still be fast-tracked.

The insurance industry has already created a new “business” catering to these applicants. Advertising is springing up in immigrant target markets all over Canada. Insurance companies like this new scheme.

With the change from a maximum renewal term of 6 months under the old visitor visa, the new system allows for a 2 year visit before reapplying and being ordered to pay new fees. Parents and grandparents and their Canadian kids certainly like that.

Some people and organizations are complaining, however, that it would be better to fast-track permanent resident applications instead of placing a moratorium (on this type of sponsorship) in exchange for the Super Visa. Ideally, sponsored parents and grandparents who become permanent residents will be entitled to all the social program benefits without burdening their children and grandchildren.

Critics fear the government will expand this new program at the expense of increasing the pace of family sponsored permanent residency. It is assumed that more and more families will have to be “separated” because illness to the Super Visa holders precludes their eligibility for insurance renewal and thusly, they become inadmissible to Canada and subsequently removed.

Future elections will surely include a policy fight over the expansion of the Super Visa program versus the expansion of permanent resident programs. A further polarization of the Canadian electorate appears to be a result. First and second generation immigrants will be up against those whose ancestors came earlier.

As long as our health care system remains at a high standard and taxpayer funded, there will continue to be a natural desire to have one’s families join them here for the benefits of permanent residency and citizenship. Those who don’t have parents and grandparents abroad that could benefit from our social welfare system will primarily be opposed to the relaxing of restrictions for permanent residency and vote accordingly. Greed is human nature. Greed at reducing the taxes you pay (pro-Super Visa), and greed in wanting other taxpayers to pay for your family’s expenses (pro-permanent residency).

Comments from groups and individuals have generally estimated that less than half of all immigrants desire a fast-track permanent residency over Super Visa program. Most just want their parents and grandparents to come-and-go on an ongoing basis and are not concerned about the possibility of age-related illnesses crippling them and making their lives miserable in the final stages. Aside from other first world nations like Canada, there are still very good health care options in other nations that don’t require a huge outlay of funds. Medical tourism is proof of that.

Humanitarian and compassionate grounds has also been a mainstay of Canadian culture and thusly will be part of many situations where making folks comfortable in their final stages of life will override the necessity to save a few dollars by forcing them to leave the country. Some opinions on this program are convinced of the fact that “theoretical” savings will arise by not allowing the ongoing residency of those in need of expensive medical care. However, Canadians generosity is world renowned. Do you really think we will deport folks on their death beds? Those crippled by accidents deported? Those that become uninsurable because of illness forced out of the country? For those other rare circumstances where the family, the community, charities, insurance companies and the government no longer wish to support the parent or grandparents medical and/or social welfare costs, a removal order and non-renewal of the Super Visa may be in order.

So there is an economic debate on both sides. Some will say because of the ease of access, more people will take advantage of the Super Visa and thusly, because of the Canadian tradition of humanitarian compassion, cost the taxpayers more (as in the cases mentioned above).

On the other hand, a firm stand against the renewal of a Super Visa based on medical condition, lack of insurability or guarantee of support, will theoretically mean a savings to the taxpayer. But this will be at the expense of the reputation Canadians have in regards to our well-known willingness to help the down and out, especially refugees and other disadvantaged groups.

The debate likely will not be concluded based on the economic model of the program because of the unknown pressures put on either the taxpayer or our reputation as a nation. The actual cost, if there is one, will surely be minimal as it will be only be the few desperate and/or deceitful families that will attempt to circumvent the rules in order to save money while maintaining the family unit within Canada.

As we are all well aware, public perception can supersede evidentiary fact. Some voters can be convinced of the “shame” brought to Canada by our governments intransigence over the Super Visa rules for renewal and lack of permanent residence opportunity. On the other hand, some voters can be convinced that by not being strict with the removal orders, and by not limiting the opportunity for older immigrants like these parents and grandparents to get permanent residency, the additional government expenditure will result in higher taxes.

The Super Visa is here and it has proven to be popular. We will have to wait and see as the governments of the present and future determine what additional immigration and visitor rules need to be adjusted in order to satisfy the political needs of the day.

William Howie
Immigration Program Student at Ashton College
under the tutelage of Jose Godoy Toku

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