Ottawa, Dec 20 (IANS): The first Parent and Grandparent Super Visa has been issued by the Canadian government, a minister announced Monday.
"We pledged to process the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa in less than eight weeks," Jason Kenney, minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, said in a statement.
"We've issued the first of the Super Visas in just two weeks and we remain committed to reuniting families through the Super Visa in a timely manner."
The Parent and Grandparent Super Visa allows parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents to visit their families in Canada for as long as 10 years, reported Xinhua.
The visas need to be renewed every two years.
Until the Super Visa was launched Dec 1, 2011, visitors to Canada usually could only visit for six months at a time and visitors who wished to stay longer had to apply for extensions and pay a new fee every six months.
Super Visa seekers use the same application form as applicants for the standard six-month visitor visa. They must also submit proof that the host child or grandchild meets a minimum income, demonstrate that they have purchased comprehensive Canadian medical insurance and undergo the immigration medical examination.
The first Super Visa was issued at the Canadian mission in Manila Dec 14, two weeks after the Citizenship and Immigration Canada began accepting applications, Kenney said.
"With the Super Visa, we have taken a common sense approach that allows parents and grandparents to spend extended periods of time with their loved ones in Canada, while at the same time, acting responsibly in protecting Canadian taxpayers," Kenney added.
"I'm pleased that the response to this program has been so positive."
The new visa is part of the Conservative government's plan to battle an enormous backlog of about 165,000 parents and grandparents who are trying to join family in Canada.
Earlier this year, Kenney told a parliamentary committee that the new system will help many families to be re-united. He said the requirement that visa holder buy health insurance will prevent them from abusing Canada's medicare system.
"The department informs me that they're confident that the approval rate for these parent Super Visas will actually be very high," Kenney told the committee.
"One of the reasons we are requiring that people demonstrate they have health insurance when they come into Canada, is to add greater certainty for our visa officers that admitting people is not going to end up representing a net cost to Canadian taxpayers," he said.