Canadian Government gets rid of sponsored spouse residency rule

by Ray Clancy on May 2, 2017

The condition that some sponsored spouses or partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents must live together for two years in order to keep their permanent resident status has been removed.

The Government of Canada said that the move is part of its commitment to family reunification and to support gender equality. This change applies to anyone who was subject to the requirement, as well as to new spouses and partners who are sponsored as permanent residents.

The condition was introduced in 2012 for sponsored spouses and partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who were in a relationship of two years or less and had no children in common at the time of their sponsorship application.

It was regarded as a means to deter people from seeking to immigrate to Canada through non-genuine relationships. It required the sponsored spouse or partner to live in a conjugal relationship with their sponsor for two years unless they were the victim of abuse or the sponsor died.

Since that time, more than 100 000 individuals have come to Canada as conditional permanent residents. As a result, an imbalance was created between the sponsor and the sponsored individual, as only the sponsored spouse or partner could lose their status if the two-year cohabitation condition was not met. Stakeholders expressed concerns that this placed abused spouses and partners in a vulnerable position.

The regulatory change addresses concerns that vulnerable sponsored spouses or partners may stay in abusive relationships because they are afraid of losing their permanent resident status even though an exception to the condition existed for those types of situations.

‘We’re doing away with a measure that could have made a bad situation worse by possibly making people feel they needed to stay in abusive situations just to keep their status in Canada,’ said Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.

‘Removing conditional permanent residence is another example of the Government’s commitment for family reunification and making it easier for immigrants to build successful lives in Canada,’ he added.

The change came after Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) assessed the impact of conditional permanent residence. It was determined that, on balance, using conditional permanent residence as a tool to deter marriage fraud had not proved to outweigh the potential risks to vulnerable sponsored spouses and partners.

‘Now that conditional permanent residence has been eliminated, anyone who was sponsored by someone who was subject to the condition and therefore also received conditional permanent residence him or herself, such as a child or a parent, has also had the condition lifted,’ said an IRCC spokesman.

‘The Government takes marriage fraud seriously and continues to have measures in place to safeguard against it. Immigration officers are trained to assess all applications and must be satisfied that a relationship is legitimate before granting the sponsored spouse or partner their permanent residence,’ the spokesman added.

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