Klaudios Mustakas – Senior Immigration Advisor: With the ongoing financial crisis in Greece, not to mention other crises around the world, I have received many inquiries about immigrating to Canada. My Greek contacts have asked me if there are any special considerations in place for Greeks to come to Canada.
The short answer is no. Canadian immigration treats citizens of Greece just like any other citizen of the world. In fact, they’re treated somewhat more leniently than some others, because Greek citizens are allowed to visit Canada without first applying for a visitor visa (still, like all other visa-free citizens except for Americans, Greeks must apply for an eTA before boarding an aircraft to Canada).
Visitors To Canada
Most visa-free citizens such as Greeks are allowed to enter Canada as a visitor for a maximum of 6 months. The length of time is at the discretion of Canadian border officials whom the traveler meets at the border. If their passport is simply stamped with the date of entry and no other notation, then the traveler automatically has 6 months of visitor status. The officer may shorten this depending on the return ticket the traveler is carrying, or if they do not feel the visitor has enough funds to cover the trip. Tip: This is why they sometimes ask you how much money you have or what you do for a living.
Any visitor in Canada is usually not allowed to work or attend full-time school. Certain exceptions are made when taking English language courses for less than six months.
Sponsoring A Parent To Canada
Parents of Canadian citizens/permanent residents who wish to visit must also still apply for an eTA. They are usually given the same treatment as other visitors. However, once in Canada, they can apply for an extension of up to 2 years of visitor status. These people must have an eligible sponsoring child who is a Canadian or a permanent resident that has the financial means (i.e. a full-time job) to support the parent. The sponsor must also prove that they have private Canadian medical coverage for the parent. The parents cannot go on public health care. Final approval for the parents as 2-year visitors rests with the immigration officer who is handling the individual case.
If the sponsoring child wishes to sponsor their parents to remain permanently, the process is more complicated and has many limitations. The Canadian government currently only accepts 10,000 cases of parent or grandparent sponsorship per year.
Starting in 2017, this process became a lottery system, with Canadian sponsors applying on-line to sponsor their parent. Sometime in February of each year, a draw is made and the first 10,000 sponsors are allowed to submit a formal sponsorship application.
Spousal Sponsorship To Canada
If a Canadian marries a foreigner, they have two sponsorship options to bring them to Canada. The first is to sponsor their spouse before they come to Canada. For the aforementioned Greeks, the application will be processed at the Canadian embassy in Rome (the Canadian embassy in Athens does not process immigration cases). After 12 months or so of processing, the individual will be issued their permanent residence and be allowed to move to Canada permanently.
The second option is for the foreign spouse to come to Canada as a visitor, and then have the Canadian spouse submit a formal application to sponsor them. This process can have a total processing time of more than 24 months. However, if the proposed sponsored individual has valid visitor status, they can apply for an open work authorization.
Pace Law Firm has completed thousands of these type of cases and would be able to assist in either type of case. Contact me if you have any questions.
Klaudios Mustakas is a retired former Manager of Enforcement Operations with the Canada Border Services Agency. He travels extensively in the Middle East to counsel individuals on immigration issues.