Conditional Permanent Residence Coming for Sponsored Spouses

In the Federal Government’s ongoing mission to address marriage fraud, a new regulation is expected to be introduced in the coming months that will significantly impact the sponsorship process.

Currently, a Canadian citizen or permanent resident can sponsor a spouse, common law partner or conjugal partner for permanent residence.  If the application is accepted, the spouse is granted permanent residence and there are no further requirements.  If the sponsored spouse collects social assistance, the sponsoring spouse will be held liable for those amounts collected for a number of years.

Under the new proposed regulation, sponsored spouses and partners will be granted conditional permanent residence.  The couple will be required to live together in a “legitimate relationship” for at least two years after the sponsored spouse arrives in Canada. If this does not happen, then the sponsored spouse’s permanent residence can be revoked, and that individual can be deported and even face criminal charges.

This proposed regulation makes no sense to me and here’s why:

  • There is no real, substantiated evidence that marriage fraud in immigration cases is a problem in Canada.  There is nothing to indicate that great numbers of people are entering Canada through fraud.
  • Deporting a parent would be extremely traumatic to the child of that parent who is also in Canada, and may not even have citizenship of the country where the parent is being deported to. Do we really want to separate children and parents to address an issue that hasn’t even been proven yet?
  • Relationships fail for many reasons – including abuse.  Do we want to force spouses (almost always women) to remain in an abusive relationship for fear of being deported?
  • Anyone who has gone through the sponsorship process knows how much effort CIC goes through to ensure the relationship is a legitimate one.  The government has ample opportunity during the application process to determine if the relationship is legitimate or not.  And it’s not hard to do.  Legitimate relationships are pretty obvious, with hundreds of emails, pictures, phone calls, and so forth. Plus the couple can be interviewed separately to see if their answers are the same in response to key questions.

I hope that the government re-thinks this regulation.  Although it is always laudable to ensure people do not enter the country under false pretences, there are ways to accomplish the same thing at the front-end of the process that won’t separate children from their parents or compel spouses to remain in a relationship that has failed.

About the author

Gianpaolo Panusa Gianpaolo Panusa is a Canadian immigration lawyer, writer, and founder of the PanCanadian Immigration Law Group based in Vancouver, Canada. Google+ Profile