Changes in Spousal Sponsorship

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has announced new amendment to the Spousal Sponsorship Program largely designed to help marginalized women.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has announced new amendment to the Spousal Sponsorship Program largely designed to help marginalized women.

Coming into force on June 11, 2015, these new regulations have changed the minimum age requirement for Spousal/Common-Law/Conjugal Partner Sponsorship as well as the rules on proxy, telephone, email, fax, Skype marriages.

The minimum age for spousal sponsorship has been moved up from 16 to 18. This move occurred to assist women who have been victimized by forced marriages or who married as child brides. There are however, two specific exceptions to this rule.

Firstly, spouses still dependent on their parents who are also immigrating can immigrate to Canada as de facto dependent children. These individuals will come to Canada under Family Sponsorship and not Spousal/Common-Law/Conjugal Partner Sponsorship.

Secondly, individuals located in refugee camps may still be able to come to Canada as de facto dependents based on humanitarian and/or compassionate grounds.

The second major amendment to this program is making certain types of marriages insufficient for Spousal Sponsorship to Canada. These include proxy, telephone, fax, internet, or Skype marriages. These marriages occur when either one or both members of a couple cannot officially attend the ceremony and so either someone else stands in their place (proxy marriage) or they give their consent via another form of technology.

This amendment was also put in place to protect victimized women. These types of marriages will now be considered as “excluded relationships” and will render an individual ineligible for Spousal Sponsorship. There were again exceptions to this amendment.

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces may still be able to sponsor a spouse if they were absent doing military service at the time of the wedding. Additionally, relationships with these unions are still considered as excluded but will be sufficient for sponsorship if it is a common-law partnership. Finally, humanitarian and compassionate considerations will exist for individuals in vulnerable circumstances such as refugee camps.

The final amendment refers to people who wish to become sponsors themselves after having been sponsored to Canada. Those individuals must spend at least five years as a Canadian citizen or permanent resident before sponsoring another family member to come to Canada.

These amendments came into play on June 11, 2015. All applications submitted before that time will be processed under the previous rules while new ones will have to account for these new regulations.

If you are interested in Spousal Sponsorship or Family Sponsorship, please fill out our free online assessment form here.

FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For more tips and updates on Canadian immigration follow FWCanada on FacebookTwitter, and Linkedin.

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