Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announces measures to strengthen family reunification

Julia Hornstein
Published: May 26, 2023

Today, May 26th 2023, Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, made an announcement about improvements to strengthen family class immigration in Canada.

The new measures include:

  • Faster temporary resident visa (TRV) processing times for spousal applicants
  • New and dedicated processing tools for spousal TRV applicants
  • A new open work permit for spousal and family class applicants
  • Open work permit extensions for open work permit holders expiring between August 1st and the end of 2023

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Fraser began the announcement by explaining that family members from visa required countries who have submitted family class permanent residency (PR) applications can apply for Temporary Resident Visas (TRV) to join their sponsor in Canada.

He said that far too many are refused on the basis that they are unlikely to return home, despite the fact that an overwhelming majority are approved for permanent residency when their application is finally processed.

Fraser continued by saying that IRCC has successfully eliminated the backlog of TRV applications for family members who already have a permanent residency application being processed. IRCC’s new approach towards spousal TRV applications has approved more than 98% of applications for spouses and their kids, so that they can be with their families while they await the processing of their PR applications.

Going forward, Fraser said this new approach to processing TRV applications will lead to processing times of within 30 days. Family members will be able to travel to Canada more quickly and be with their loved ones sooner.

IRCC is also launching a new initiative that will issue open work permits to spousal applicants and their dependent children who reside with their sponsor in Canada and have temporary resident status.

Spouses, partners and dependants are able to apply for and receive an open work permit as soon as they submit a complete permanent residence application under the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class (SPCLC) or other family class programs.

These open work permits were previously only allowed for the inland spousal program and is now being extended to those who are applying outside Canada.

Finally, beginning June 7th, open work permit holders whose current permit expires between August 1st and the end of 2023 can extend their permit for 18 months using a free facilitated process, which will impact about 25,000 people currently in Canada and are able to work. This will include spouses and dependents of most temporary workers, spouses of international students and permanent resident applicants and their spouses/dependents waiting for permanent residency to be finalized.

Family class sponsorship

Family class immigration is the second largest category under Canada’s Immigration Level’s Plan. In 2023, Canada hopes to welcome 106,500 newcomers under the family class category, with 78,000 under the spouses, partners and children category and 28,500 under the parents and grandparents category. By 2025, Canada aims to welcome 118,000 newcomers through family class immigration.

Family class sponsorship allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor a person to join you in Canada and become a permanent resident.

To be eligible as a sponsor, you must:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada
  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Not be in prison, bankrupt, under a removal order or charged with a serious offence
  • Not have been sponsored as a spouse within the last 5 years.

Spouses, common law and conjugal partners, children, parents and grandparents may all be sponsored, provided they meet the required eligibility criteria.

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