Canada is extending the length of time parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents can stay in the country under the super visa program.
In a news release on Tuesday, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said beginning July 4, super visa holders will be able to stay in Canada for five years, with an option to extend two more years while in the country.
Previously, parents and grandparents with a super visa were only allowed to visit family in Canada for no longer than two years at a time. The super visa is valid for a period of 10 years and allows multiple entries.
Going forward, international medical insurance companies will be able to provide coverage to super visa applicants, IRCC said. Currently, applicants can only use Canadian providers.
“Families are at the heart of Canadian society,” said Immigration Minister Sean Fraser in a statement announcing the changes.
“The enhancements to the super visa program allow family members to reunite for longer in Canada, which helps everyday Canadian citizens and permanent residents succeed and contribute to society, while affording their parents and grandparents invaluable opportunities to spend time with their family in Canada,” he said.
The announcement comes as wait times for immigration applications to come to Canada continue to be a concern with many people stuck in limbo, growing impatient.
In May, there were more than two million immigration applications for citizenship, permanent residence and temporary residence in the inventory, according to figures from IRCC shared with Global News last month.
While travel restrictions and other constraints brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have caused long delays, the war in Ukraine has added to the inventory backlog, IRCC says.
The federal government introduced the super visa program in 2011 to allow Canadian families to reunite with their parents and grandparents for an extended period of time. The length of stay under a regular visitor visa is six months or less.
Roughly 17,000 super visas are granted each year, according to the IRCC.