The New Sponsorship 5 Year Ban2012-03-03
The spousal sponsorship rules have recently changed in order to tighten-up the immigation system with regard to Canadian citizens or permanent residents sponsoring foreign spouses and bringing them to Canada.
Current immigration rules
Until recently, there were no restrictions on foreign spouses entering the country with regard to leaving or divorcing their Canadian spouse and then marrying another foreign national and sponsoring that person.
According the news media and government sources, there have been a number of cases amounting to fraud whereby a Canadian would marry (or partner) with a foreign national, where the foreign national’s intention was to leave the Canadian spouse so that the foreign national could then sponsor another person. Often, that other person was likely the foreign national’s spouse the entire time.
On top of this, the Canadian would still be responsible for the foreign spouse (even after divorce or separation) for three years. This means that if the foreign spouse collected social assistance, the Canadian spouse would have to reimburse the government for any social assistance payments made to the foreign spouse (now a permanent resident in Canada). This rule continues to remain.
New five year ban
What has changed is that the foreign spouse (who is now a permanent resident of Canada) can not sponsor another person for 5 years from the date he or she becomes a permanent resident.
What will this accomplish?
The idea behind the new regulations is that foreign spouses will not be interested in marrying a Canadian for the sole purpose of leaving that Canadian and sponsoring a new spouse, as the waiting period is quite lengthy. Whether or not this will work in practise will remain to be seen.
This rule will not affect those individuals who purposefully seek out a Canadian solely to gain permanent residence (and ultimately citizenship), however, that will continue to remain a risk for both the Canadian spouse and the Citizenship and Immigration Canada visa officers assigned to evaluating the legitimacy of the relationship put forward for sponsorship.
Canada is a desireable place to live and there will always be individuals willing and able to take advantage of unsuspecting Canadians in order to gain entry to this country.
Canadians who enter relationships with foreign individuals should always be cautious as there are a number of stories where a romance turns sour once the couple is re-united in Canada.
However, there are many more stories of happy outcomes where couples and families are re-united in Canada and build their lives here.
I have been fortunate to play a role in these relationships countless times by representing Canadians and their spouses through sponsorship applications.