Processing Times for Family Class Immigration Programs to be Halved

CIC News
Published: December 7, 2016

walk-coupleCanada’s federal Immigration Minister, John McCallum, has announced that processing times for the spousal/common-law partner categories of Family Class immigration programs are to be reduced to 12 months, from the current average of 24 months, with an additional goal to eventually reduce processing times to as low as six months.

The Minister made the announcement in Brampton, Ontario on December 7.

The news is likely to be welcomed by tens of thousands of sponsors and sponsored persons in Canada and around the world who already have an application in processing, as well as by couples and families who are preparing to make an application in the future. Minister McCallum made it clear that the new processing times targets would apply to those who have already submitted an application, as well as those who have not yet submitted, adding that the department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) does not wish to have a two-tier system. The first-in, first-out principle will be retained, so applicants who have already submitted an application are likely to see their file brought to a decision before applicants who apply (or applied) at a later date.

When the Liberal government took office last year, the average processing time for spouses/common-law partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents in Canada was 26 months. For spouses/common-law partners outside Canada, it was 18 months. The new 12 month target applies to applicants inside and outside Canada.

“The proposition I guarantee is that the time is now 12 months, down from 24,” said Minister McCallum. “The changes we’re announcing will last, will be permanent. Politicians come and go, governments come and go, but departments are always there. And we have enlisted their enthusiasm, their involvement in creating this new system and so I think Canadians can be confident that these positive changes are here to stay.

“We have listened to Canadians and are delivering results. Bringing families together makes for a stronger Canada. Canadians who marry someone from abroad shouldn’t have to wait for years to have them immigrate or be left with uncertainty in terms of their ability to stay. What we’re announcing today is a more efficient, more considerate process to reunite families.”

The government of Canada plans on welcoming 64,000 new permanent residents as the spouses, common-law partners, or dependent children of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in 2017.

“This will be of benefit to the 64,000 spouses we plan to admit to Canada in the coming year, but it will be of benefit to all Canadians because I think that people are more productive citizens, they do better overall when they are with their families than when they are isolated from their families,” said McCallum.

In addition, the government has set a target of 20,000 new permanent residents under the Parent and Grandparent Program (PGP). Although IRCC strives to reduce processing times for the PGP, the 12-month target will not apply to parents and grandparents at this time. The next application intake period for the PGP begins on January 3, 2017.

Minister McCallum outlined three contributory factors that will allow IRCC to achieve its Family Class processing times goals while retaining the mandatory criminality, security, and medical screening of all sponsored persons.

First, the department has received $25 million CAD in additional funding that has been used for hiring and training staff. Second, the existing inventory of submitted applications continues to be reduced. Lastly, IRCC has drawn on its experience and resources to improve efficiency. In particular, it has streamlined its operations having learned from the successful effort to bring in more than 30,000 Syrian refugees in a short period last winter, bringing lessons learned from that project to other categories of the country’s overall immigration strategy.

Minister McCallum added that certain other factors will help IRCC staff and applicants alike in reducing processing times and restructuring the process. For example, documentation attesting to medicals and police background checks will no longer be required up front; rather, they will be required later in the process. In addition, there will be shorter, more concise program guides, fewer evaluation forms, and a single checklist across the board.

Before changes
After changes
Two application kits for overseas applicants and applicants in Canada
One application kit for all applicants
180 pages of guide material
75 pages of guide material in simplified language
14 guides and checklists
One checklist
Medical and police certificates required upfront
Medical and police certificates required later in the process

The new system will be operational online as of December 15, 2016. Since some applicants may have already started filling out their application using the current kit, IRCC will continue to accept new applications using the current kit until January 31, 2017. After this date, only applications using the new kit will be accepted.

In addition, IRCC confirmed that a popular pilot program that allows spouses and common-law partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents in Canada to work while awaiting permanent resident status has been extended until December 21, 2017.

To find out if you are eligible to sponsor your spouse, common-law partner, or dependent child/children for Canadian permanent residence, fill out a free assessment form today.
To find out if you or your family members are eligible for the Parent and Grandparent Program based on the eligibility criteria for the most recent application cycle, please fill out a free online PGP assessment form.

© 2016 CICNews All Rights Reserved

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