Many parents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents die while waiting for our immigration department to finalize the processing of their sponsored applications for permanent residence.

In such a situation, what happens to the application of the surviving parent and their dependents?

This issue arose recently in connection with the client of Max Berger, a Toronto immigration lawyer, who is a good friend and colleague of mine.

His Canadian client was waiting for his parents’ sponsorship to be finalized when his father suddenly died abroad. The sponsor’s father was listed as the principal applicant. His mom was listed as his dependent.

When Max informed the Canadian embassy in Cairo that the main applicant was deceased, the officer in charge of the case advised him, in writing, that the department’s stated policy was that “when the principal applicant is deceased, the spouse cannot replace him” and that “a new sponsorship will therefore be required.”

Obviously, this would be quite upsetting to any sponsor since the two-step sponsorship process takes so long. First, the Canadian sponsor’s eligibility must be assessed by the Central Processing Centre in Mississauga. That takes 27 months. Then the applicant’s application for permanent residence can take another 21 months or more to be processed at a Canadian visa post abroad.

Accordingly, it could take another four years or so for the sponsor to go through the whole process all over again before he can be reunited with his widowed mother in Canada.

This is not the first time I have heard a visa post take this position, so I brought this to the attention of the office of the minister of immigration for comment.

Surprisingly, Karen Shadd, spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, told me that this was not, in fact, the policy of the department. She said that the surviving spouse does not have to start all over again.

Although this is not mentioned anywhere in the immigration department’s policy manual, she advised that all that is required of the surviving spouse is to execute a one-page sponsorship agreement (Form 1344b) and file it with CPC Mississauga. The applicant will maintain her deceased husband’s position in line.

When I stressed to her that I have seen this seemingly erroneous position taken before, she agreed that some clarification to the field might be in order. Upon consultation with her higher-ups, she was able to confirm that the policy manual -- which she pointed out is always being updated and revised -- will soon be amended to clarify this point so that Canadian citizens and permanent residents are not mistakenly sent to the back of the line when their parent, who is named as the principal applicant, dies.

Sounds good to me and, I am sure, to Max.

Guidy Mamann practices law in Toronto at Mamann, Sandaluk and is certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as an
immigration specialist. Reach him confidentially at 416-862-0000 or at

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