Canada’s Immigration Minister Proposes Changes to Family Spousal Sponsorship Program: Transcend Consultants

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Transcend Consultants has disclosed that Canada's Family sponsorship immigration program is to undergo progressive changes aimed at deterring marriages of convenience and fraud, quoting from the recent announcement by Canadian Immigration Minister. The changes mean that a spouse or partner being sponsored by a Canadian or permanent resident would be required to live together with their sponsor in a legitimate relationship for two years of their residency in Canada. This follows earlier announcement whereby the sponsored spouses or partners are ineligible to sponsor a new spouse or partner for five years.

Transcend Consultants

Transcend Consultants

The changes envisage granting a conditional permanent resident status to the sponsored spouses, which would be regularised once the conditions are met.

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According to Transcend, Canada’s Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Hon. Jason Kenney announced that public is being consulted regarding further changes to the Family sponsorship program. These are among a series of changes to the broad Immigration system in Canada, including Family sponsorship. The current proposal envisages granting a conditional permanent resident status to the sponsored spouses, which would be regularised once the conditions are met. The conditions inter alia would relate to staying with the Canadian sponsor for a period of time.

Family reunification is one of the basic objectives of Canada's immigration law. Citizenship and Immigration Canada remains committed to working with Canadians to bring their close family members into Canada. At the same time, Canada doesn't accept the integrity of its immigration system being compromised, or it being misused for improper reasons. Marriages of Convenience happen when the Canadian sponsor and the sponsored foreign national enter into a marriage for the purpose of gaining a favourable outcome under the immigration system, without having an intention to live together as a husband & wife. Sometimes, the sponsored spouse may be the only party involved, resulting in marriage fraud. In this case, the immigration system and a Canadian is adversely affected, thus being counter-productive to the tenet of family reunification.

The current Family sponsorship program has 2 components: a) Spouses & Dependent children b) Parents and Grandparents. The Parents and grandparents component is currently on administrative hold, while the department re-designs the program. The Minister did announce a Super-visa for this component, which allows Parent s and Grandparents to stay for upto 2 years at a time.

Spouse and Dependent sponsorship is one of the most generous in the current bouquet of Canadian immigration programs. It allows a Canadian to bring in their spouse, without considering their income (thus, the ability to support their sponsored spouses), and has the highest priority in processing (thus, allowing the Canadian consulates to focus on completing these applications).

However, Canadians have repeatedly complained about abuse of the program by non-sincere foreigners who become spouses of unsuspecting Canadians and then ditch them after arriving in Canada. In fact, there are cases of the sponsored spouses 'disappearing' right from the airport upon arrival, without bothering to meet their Canadian sponsors. In other cases, they stay for a short period of time, before leaving. The fact that these individuals become a permanent resident of Canada upon arrival has become one of the shortcomings of the program, which is being addressed with these changes.

The changes envisage granting a conditional permanent resident status to the sponsored spouses, which would be regularised once the conditions are met.

Failure to satisfy the conditions could result in one or more of the following measures:

  • their PR status could be revoked;
  • they could be face removal from Canada;
  • criminal charges could be laid.

The author is of the opinion that these changes are positive in spirit, as they re-affirm the integrity of the Canadian immigration system, and protect Canadians. At the same time, the changes have a potential of introducing bureaucracy into the bedrooms of Canadians. That, and the additional administrative burden may need to be better thought out by the department, when finalising the parameters of the program.

The risk that some Canadian sponsor may misuse the 'conditions' to create an uneven advantage with the sponsored foreigner, ("marriage of inconvenience?") may become another potential minefield for the department to navigate, to reunite families in Canada.

For more information about the above Immigration backlogs, or about Canadian immigration programs, contact the author Deepak Kohli or Transcend Consultants at the coordinates below.

Transcend Consultants is a full-service Canadian Immigration Consultancy firm, operating from Brampton, Ontario and serving clients globally. Their practice areas cover economic and family immigration programs, including spousal sponsorship applications and appeals.

Contact Information:
Deepak Kohli
Transcend Consultants
Twitter: @transcendc

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Deepak Kohli, RCIC
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