Last Updated on December 1, 2011 by Steven Meurrens

Parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents can apply for two types of Temporary Resident Visas to visit their relatives in Canada.  The first is a standard, multiple-entry visa.  The second is what is known as a Super Visa.

A normal Temporary Resident Visa generally is a multiple entry-visa valid for the duration of an applicant’s passport, or 10 years, whichever is shorter.  Unless the Canada Border Services Agency authorizes indicates, it allows applicants to stay in Canada for up to six months without having to apply to extend their temporary resident status.

A Super Visa is also valid for up to 10 years, or the duration of the applicant’s passport, whichever is shorter.  It allows parents and grandparents to stay in Canada for up to two years without having to renew their status. Parents and grandparents who are from visa-exempt countries can also apply for Super Visas in order to receive Letters of Introduction that will allow them to stay in Canada for up to two years without having to renew their status.  It is important to note that the two year entry only applies to the initial stay.

A parents or grandparent is eligible for a Super Visa if the parent or grandparent has:

  • provided proof of the parent or grandparent relationship to the Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
  • undergone a medical examination and is admissible to Canada on health grounds;
  • provided satisfactory evidence of private medical insurance from a Canadian insurance company, valid for a minimum period of one year from the date of entry which:
    • covers the applicant for health care, hospitalization and repatriation;
    • provides a minimum of $100,000 coverage; and
    • is valid for each entry to Canada and available for review by the examining officer upon request; and
  • provided a written and signed promise of financial support, e.g. a letter of invitation, from the host child or grandchild for the entire duration the parent or grandparent intends to stay in Canada. The letter must be accompanied by evidence of their means of providing such support.

The Super Visa is meant to be a facilitate program, and if an applicant meets the Super Visa eligibility criteria, and is not otherwise inadmissible to Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada will normally issue the visa.

Proof of Income of Host

Hosts must provide details of the number of persons in the host’s household and proof of income at a level meeting or exceeding the Low-income Cut-off for the total number of persons, including the visiting parent(s) or grandparent(s).

The financial requirement test is meant to cover the host’s household and visitors.  It is not meant to include members of the Parent’s or Grandparent’s household who is not visiting, regardless of whether these family members could eventually be included as dependents in a parent or grandparent application.

Is the Super Visa Worth It?

As most Temporary Resident Visas are now multiple-entry and valid for significant durations the value of a Super Visa is not as great as it once was.  It is often also not worth the additional expense of parents and grandparents having to purchase private health care.  Individuals intending to apply for Super Visas should seriously consider whether to simply apply for a standard Temporary Resident Visa instead.  Relevant factors include:

  • Whether the Parent or Grandparent actually wants to stay in Canada for more than six months at a time; and
  • If yes, whether the cost and burden of applying to extend one’s temporary resident status exceeds the cost of purchasing private health insurance.