Canadian Government Eliminates the Conditional Permanent Residence Requirement for Spouses and Partners Who Were Sponsored To Canada
On April 28, 2017, the Canadian government announced that it abolished a condition for permanent residency that required some sponsored spouses and partners to remain in a relationship with their sponsors for a period of at least two years. The change was first announced in late 2016 before coming into effect in April 2017.
Conditional permanent residence was introduced by the former Conservative government in 2012 with a proposed objective of combatting marriage fraud. The condition applied to individuals who did not have children with their sponsors and carried the penalty of losing permanent resident status if the two-year requirement was not met.
There was, however, significant concern following the condition’s enactment that conditional permanent residence did not in fact contribute to deterring fraudulent marriages. Rather, it was feared that the condition had a detrimental effect on vulnerable spouses, causing many to remain in abusive relationship with their sponsors for fear of losing their status.
The current government’s move to eliminate the condition altogether is meant to address these concerns. According to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, the change is meant to prevent a bad situation from getting worse by forcing those in abusive situations to remain with their abusers for the sake of status. The change is also meant to further reinforce Canada’s commitment to combatting gender-based violence and advancing gender-equality.
This newly enacted change in spousal sponsorship is undoubtedly a right step on the government’s part towards recognizing the realities of marriage and other committed relationships. Domestic abuse and gender-based violence remain serious societal problems and government policy must unquestionably be cognizant of the fact. Policy makers must necessarily account for any potentially detrimental impact a condition or rule might have on vulnerable groups, and conditions that only work to exacerbate the issue can reasonably have no place in Canada’s immigration system today.