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Life in Canada

IRCC Abolishes Two-Year Family Sponsorship Condition for Spouses and Partners

4 May 2017

IRCC Abolishes Two-Year Family Sponsorship Condition for Spouses and Partners
As of this week, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced that the two-year condition for family sponsorship has been abolished. This condition required sponsored spouses or common-law partners to live with his or her sponsor for a minimum of two years in order to keep their permanent residency (PR) status in Canada. The former policy targeted couples who resided with their sponsor for two years or less and did not have children between them.

The amendment applies to not only new candidates for family sponsorship to Canada, but current permanent residents who had previously been subjected to the policy before the change was implemented.

IRCC said the recent change to immigration policy was made over concern for sponsored individuals remaining in abusive relationships out of fear of losing their Canadian residency. Since the condition was introduced in 2012 as a means to detect fraudulent relationships, immigration authorities have indicated that approximately 100,000 sponsored spouses or common-law partners have been subjected to the rule.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen stated the reasoning behind abolishing the measure was to avoid “[Making] made a bad situation worse by possibly making people feel they needed to stay in abusive situations just to keep their status in Canada.”

Although sponsored spouses or common-law partners involved in an abusive relationship were already exempt from the two year policy, many remained in abusive relationships for fear of losing their permanent residency status, and were likely unaware of the special condition granted to such circumstances. Hussen further remarked that “Removing conditional permanent residence is another example of the government’s commitment for family reunification to make it easier for immigrants to build successful lives in Canada.”

In a statement released by IRCC, it was made clear that placing family-sponsored individuals in a vulnerable situation was not a sensible risk when measured with exposing immigration fraud in a relationship. Even more, the IRCC noted that immigration officials are trained in detecting whether or not immigrating couples are involved in a legitimate relationship. If authorities determine that an immigrating couple is involved in a fraudulent relationship, the sponsored spouse or partner could have his or her permanent residency application or status revoked and they would be required to leave Canada.

Under Canada’s current immigration regulations, once Canadian permanent residency is granted to a sponsored spouse or common-law partner, he or she is eligible to sponsor a new spouse or common-law partner after a five-year period of receiving his or her initial residency status.

Below are general eligibility requirements for both sponsors and sponsored family members, including (but not limited to) spouses and common-law partners.

Sponsor Requirements for Family Sponsorship in Canada

General requirements to be a sponsor for spouses, common-law partners, and dependents are as follows:
  • Sponsors must be at least 18 years old.
  • The sponsor and person being sponsored must sign an agreement which states that the sponsor will financially support the individual, if needed. In addition, sponsored individuals who receive permanent residency status are required to make an effort to financially support themselves.
  • Sponsors are required to provide their spouse or common-law partner financial support for a period of 3 years, starting when the spouse or partner is granted Canadian permanent residency.
  • Dependent children must be financially supported for no less than 10 years, or until the child reaches the age of 25 (whichever criteria is met first).
Family Sponsorship in Canada: Who is Eligible?

While the recent policy change refers to spouses or common-law partners, family sponsorship in Canada is not limited to those in marital, common-law, or conjugal relationship. Eligibility requirements for sponsored family members are as follows:
  • Spouses, common-law partners, or conjugal partners are eligible to receive Canadian permanent residency.
  • Dependent children.
  • Parents and grandparents (for sponsorship of grandparents, additional conditions apply).
  • Siblings, e.g. brothers, sisters, and nephews or nieces who are orphaned. Under this category, sponsored family members must also be under the age of 18, unmarried, and not in a common-law relationship at the time of sponsorship.
  • Additional relatives of any age or relationship, under certain conditions. Accompanying relatives of the sponsored individual, such as dependent children, are also eligible for family sponsorship to Canada.
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