Conditional status removed
This is good news for sponsors and their spouses. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) confirmed in late April 2017 that the period of conditional permanent residency, imposed since October 2012, on sponsored spouses and partners has now been removed. All spouses and partners, upon landing will now have full permanent residency status.
In October 2016, the current government in its Forward Regulatory Plan resolved to change this condition in the spring of 2017. Many of our clients have been asking about the changes that we first talked about in an earlier article on this website Silly Spousal Sponsorship Rule. We are happy to report that this change is now in force.
Initially the last government, in its effort to address the problem of fraudulent marriages to achieve immigration status and non-genuine marriages of convenience, imposed a two-year conditional permanent resident status on all sponsored spouses and partners. This condition. to the degree that it was ineffective as a deterrent or not, also gave rise to situations of domestic abuse from which vulnerable partners remained trapped for the duration of the condition, for fear of losing their residency. Although there were exit clauses written into permanent residency conditions to protect spouses and partners from staying in volatile and abusive relationships, victims continued to endure the harsh conditions rather than risk losing their status. By removing this condition from all sponsored spouses and partners upon landing, there is now a greater chance of individuals facing physical, sexual, financial or psychological abuse at the hands of their partners, of confidently seeking safety and help outside of their home.
Commitment to family reunification
This change means Canada has reinforced its commitment to family reunification under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). It represents a more humane approach to spousal applications, while also embracing gender equality. Canada will protect vulnerable spouses and partners from willful neglect and gender-based abuse. For foreign nationals sponsored as spouses and partners, repeal of the permanent residency condition indicates a level of trust that the family-class immigration program applicants are assumed to be honest and trustworthy. The change recognizes that people are overwhelmingly involved in genuine relationships, and are interested in coming to Canada to be honestly reunited with their loved ones for a better life.
One can, however, expect visa officers to be as vigilant and as thorough as ever in ensuring that the small percentage of phony spousal applications by unscrupulous individuals are quickly identified, and summarily tossed out.