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The Federal Government announced last week that they intend to reverse two of the spousal sponsorship regulations enacted by the previous government: conditional permanent residence will be ended and the age of eligibility for dependent children will be returned to 21 years of age. Both of these regulations date from the last few years. This is major news both because sponsored spouses will not have to wait to become full permanent residents and because university-aged children may now be brought along as part of the sponsorship process. This is a return to normal policy.
No More Conditional Permanent Residence
The previous government instituted a regulation in 2012 which required newly sponsored spouses/partners to cohabitate with their sponsor for two years in order to attain full permanent residence status. The measure was instituted to try to prevent marriage fraud, including both marriages of convenience (where both partners are in on the deception) and marriages where the sponsored spouse faked love in order to immigrate to Canada.
However, the current government believes that, not only does the rule not prevent marriage fraud, it allows for situations in which the sponsored spouse or partner can be abused by the sponsor with no hope of escape (because if the sponsored person leaves the home before two years, they lose their status in Canada). So the government is proposing to remove this regulation and has opened a 30 day consultation period.
Dependent Child Age Reversal
Prior to 2014, a sponsored spouse could bring with them any children 21 years of age and under, who would also gain permanent residence. The goal of the regulation was to prevent additional adults from being sponsored as part of the spousal sponsorship process, allowing these adults to subvert the normal immigration process.
The current government argues that children live with their parents much longer than used to be the case, and that children between the ages of 18 and 21 are usually still dependent on their parents financially, so not allowing them to be sponsored as part of the process would leave them stranded in their home countries. “Family Reunification” is a stated goal of Canada’s immigration policy and the reversal of this rule should help more families stay together.
The government also argues that older children act as a help in the household, which could free up the sponsored spouse to work more easily if there are a number of children in the family. Also, Canada’s birth rate is not high enough to replenish the population, so the more young people in the country, the better for the economy.
These two changes are not yet law. The government is holding consultations to gauge public reaction about reversing these two rules and restoring the spousal sponsorship program to what it was at the beginning of this decade. More will be known at the end of November.
Need help with your spousal sponsorship application? Contact Mary Zhang, a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant, at our office in Markham, Ontario.