Canada has a well-established commitment to family values and unity. As such, the government has made consistent efforts to ensure that immigrant families are able to stay together. One of the most popular avenues used by Canadians to bring their loved ones to the country is the Family Class Sponsorship program. Through this program, thousands of family members have received Canadian permanent residency.
One of the most widely used Family Class streams is the Spousal Sponsorship stream, which facilitates immigration for spouses and common-law partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. In recent years, new legislation has been introduced to this stream to help ensure legitimate applications and minimize marriage fraud. With these new conditions in place, the government hopes to maintain the integrity of the program as a safe means of bringing loved ones to Canada.
Conditions for Spousal Sponsorship
In October 2012, two new rules were set into place by the government for cases of spousal/common law partnership:
- Five year ban on sponsorship – An individual who has been sponsored as a spouse is banned from sponsoring another spouse for five years after receiving Canadian permanent residency, and;
- Two year legitimate relationship regulation – Spouses or common law partners who have been in a relationship for two years or less, and who have no children together, will receive conditional permanent residency. They must provide proof that they are continuing to live with their spouse or partner in Canada, in a legitimate relationship, for two years. Exceptions to this rule will be made for spouses who are suffering from abuse or neglect, or whose Canadian spouse passes away.
These rules were created in order to prevent marriage fraud. This type of fraud can occur in different ways. In some cases, Canadian citizens or permanent residents can be tricked into sponsoring a foreign national who feigns romantic interest in them in order to obtain sponsorship. In other cases, marriages of convenience are arranged between two different parties. Marriage fraud puts honest applicants to the program at a disadvantage by greatly slowing the processing times for their loved ones’ applications.
“Canada has a strong system set in place for citizens or permanent residents who wish to bring their loved ones to the country,” said Attorney David Cohen. “However, it is important that the government takes to the proper measures to prevent marriage fraud. The rules set in place by Citizen and Immigration Canada will help those who apply to the program in good faith to get the results they want, faster.”
Applying for Spousal Sponsorship
The Canadian government recently released detailed information on how the conditions mentioned above are applied. One such detail is that the condition placed on a sponsored spouse’s permanent residency will automatically be removed after the two year limit is completed, unless the couple is under investigation for fraud concerns. Investigations may take place due to a random audit of their situation, or because suspicion has been raised.
As these rules have been set in place since October 2012, couples that are in the process of applying will not see any changes to the processing of their application.
While Canada is taking a hard line on those who abuse the Spousal Sponsorship system, the door remains wide open for couples who wish to live together in Canada.
To find out if you and/or your family members are eligible for sponsorship, please fill out a free online assessment today.