Citizenship and Immigration Canada introduces sponsorship restrictions to address marriage fraud
The Government of Canada has put in place a bar on sponsorship in an ongoing effort to deter people from using a marriage of convenience to come to Canada. Regulatory changes in force since 2 March 2012 mean that sponsored spouses or partners will have to wait five years from the day they are granted permanent residence status in Canada in order to sponsor, in their turn, a new spouse or partner. Until now, a sponsored spouse or partner arriving in Canada as a permanent resident could leave their sponsor and sponsor another spouse or partner themselves, while their original sponsor was still financially responsible for them for up to three years.
Spousal sponsorship is open to abuse (which has become endemic over the last few years) when a person enters into a non-bona fide relationship – such as a marriage or a common law partnership – in order to circumvent Canada’s immigration law. Concerned with the problem, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) held online consultations in the fall of 2010 to gather public opinion and ideas on how to best address marriage fraud. The first step towards making use of these consultations has been now fully implemented. The new rules would bar a previously-sponsored spouse or partner from sponsoring a new spouse or partner within five years of becoming a PR, even if the sponsor has acquired citizenship during that period. It is important to note that there is no change to the existing regulation that states that a sponsor is ineligible to sponsor a spouse or partner, if the sponsor has an existing sponsorship undertaking (in respect of a previous spouse or partner) and the period of that undertaking has not ended.
Sponsorship applications received prior to regulatory amendment coming into force are not affected by the five-year bar.
A second step is going soon to come into force when sponsored spouses will only be granted a conditional permanent resident status. They will acquire full permanent resident status only after two years, provided they still live with their spouses or common-law partners.