Minister McCallum announced that as of December 7, 2016, processing times for both inland and overseas spousal sponsorship applications would be reduced from approximately 24 months on average, to 12 months. Additionally, a new application kit will be available online on December 15, 2016.
In early 2016, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reduced application processing times by 15 percent for inland applications and by 10 percent for overseas applications in an effort to promote the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act’s goal of family reunification. Today, Minister McCallum announced further reductions to the application processing times in order to meet that objective, keeping in mind that more complex cases may require more time.
The Canadian government announced that it plans to admit 64,000 spouses and dependents to Canada in 2017, and in order to facilitate this, has allocated $25 million in the federal budget to hiring additional resources and improving efficiency. In reviewing the current processes, Minister McCallum noted that the government has determined several ways to improve efficiency including:
– Using a single, new and simplified application kit for both inland and overseas applications
– Reducing the current application guide from 180 pages to 75 pages in an effort to simplify it, and replacing the current 14 checklists with four new document checklists depending on who is being sponsored (spouse, common-law spouse, conjugal partner or dependent child)
– Using one relationship questionnaire or evaluation form, rather than two questionnaires and one evaluation form, and
– Removing the requirement to provide police certificates and medical examinations upfront.
Minister McCallum also noted that there would not be changes to the security, criminal, medical and genuineness screening processes.
As mentioned, a new application kit for new sponsors will be available on December 15, 2016 on IRCC’s website. However, IRCC will continue to process applications using the current kit in the order they are received until January 31, 2017. After this date, IRCC will only accept applications using the new kit.
Additionally, the current pilot program giving open work permits to eligible spouses or partners who are being sponsored through the inland application process and are currently in Canada will be extended until December 21, 2017.
For further information on spousal sponsorship applications, please contact PwC Law LLP.