A Canadian Immigration Lawyer Explains an Upcoming Change to Immigration Rules
Immigration Minister John McCallum recently announced upcoming changes to Canada’s Immigration rules for spouses of Canadian residents. These changes, which are scheduled to be implemented in coming months, will allow the foreign sponsored spouses of Canadians to become permanent residents as soon as they arrive in Canada.
Canadian immigration lawyers explain that under the existing system, these foreign spouses receive conditional permanent residency status once they arrive in the country. They then have to wait two years before being granted full permanent resident status. Though their rights and entitlements are largely the same as regular permanent residents during this period, residency can be revoked if the relationship breaks down.
This rule was introduced by the Conservative government in 2012 to address issues of marriage fraud and “marriages of convenience”. While there is some evidence that the introduction of conditional permanent resident status was effective in counteracting marriage fraud, Canadian immigration lawyers have also expressed concerns that the system has prevented people from leaving abusive or dangerous relationships for fear of having their residency revoked.
Since Mr. McCallum was appointed Immigration Minister in November 2015, a large number of Liberal MPs, especially those in ridings with large visible-minority populations, have requested that he amend current processes in order to speed up the review of family sponsorship applications, which can currently take up to two years. For many of these MPs, whether Liberal, Conservative, or otherwise, issues relating to immigration, refugees, and citizenship account for a large per cent of their day-to-day constituency work. Canadian immigration lawyers agree that amending these processes would likely improve these issues.
Under Canada’s amended immigration rules, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has committed to speeding up these processing times. In addition, once they are implemented, sponsored spouses will no longer have to wait for two years to receive permanent resident status, and will instead receive it upon their arrival in Canada. Immigration lawyers note that anyone who previously used the spousal program–whether they sponsored someone, or were sponsored themselves–will be prohibited from using it again for five years; this guideline is being retained from the 2012 rules.