Following please find my two cents about it. Given that, according to your post, your case was reopened - I commend your lawyer for that - , and that your lawyer wants to file a new PIF - which is likely just a correction of the original one with some minor changes, - what you may expect to have is a new hearing scheduled for the near future. That pretty much sends you back to the beginning of the process, which is not a bad thing. However, and just out of curiosity, have you taken the time to call CIC ON YOUR OWN to corroborate that, in fact, your case was reopen, and that a new hearing date is to be scheduled? It is your case, not the lawyer's, so you should be proactive and make sure that things are running smoothly.
As far as the spousal sponsorship application, as I am sure you understand, it is a completely different process from the refugee claim, and that they both run parallel to each other. That means that the spousal sponsorship can only benefit you in case that you lose your refugee claim, if: 1) it is filed before the PRRA is initiated
, and 2) it is ultimately decided in your favor.
To put it in a different way, the refugee claim is buying you very valuable time to get the spousal sponsorship approved, hence the longer it takes to get the refugee claim decided, the better. You need all the time you can get at this point.
Also, to answer your questions in the order they were formulated:
1. I want to withdraw my refugee claim, can I stay on the basis of my pending spousal sponsorship? Etc.
! In Canada, you cannot withdraw your refugee claim based on your spousal sponsorship (I say "in Canada", because this could be certainly possible in the US). Based on your comments, I assume that you have not, at this point, any valid status other than that one of a refugee claimant, despite the fact that you are from a visa exempt country (Israel).
If that is the case, the only thing that is keeping you here in Canada is the refugee claim. Simply put, if you withdraw your refugee claim, you will become deportable immediately, and CBSA will try to enforce the deportation order right away regardless of your spousal sponsorship. This also means that the ONLY time when you can withdraw your refugee claim is when your spousal sponsorship gets First Stage of Approval, also known as AIP (Approval in Principle). (There is some controversy about whether or not a refugee claimant should withdraw his/her application immediately after getting AIP, but I discuss it in more detail below).
2. If i withdraw my refugee claim, Will I still have my benefits like to extend the work permit IFH and SIN ?
!! If you withdraw your claim you will not be a refugee claimant anymore. This pretty much eliminates your eligibility for refugee claimant's benefits, such as access to Legal Aid, IFH, OWP (open work permit), etc., not to mention that you would become immediately deportable, as explained above.
However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If in fact your refugee claim is going to be processed again, which means that you will have a hearing after all, that gives your spousal sponsorship some time to be fully processed as well, which, if approved, could be the end of your worries.
As you know, spousal sponsorships comprehend two stages: 1) Assessment of sponsor (First Stage of Approval), which if approved would grant you the AIP (Approval in Principle); 2) Assessment of person being sponsored (Second Stage of Approval), which if approved would grant you the Permanent Residency. What you may be able to get in the next few months is the AIP, which would grant you the possibility of withdrawing the refugee claim, as I mentioned before.
About that, according to some people, you should continue with your refugee claim until you get the Permanent Residency, which after getting AIP can take anything between a few weeks to 9 months, or even longer. However, an experienced lawyer should be able to help you make such decision (I have found at least two Immigration Consultants that advice against it. However, at least two fully qualified and well experienced lawyers that I've talked to about it, agree with the withdrawal) In any case, think of this as great news!
One question here: do you already have access to e-CAS to check on the status of the spousal sponsorship? If CIC received your application the last week of May 2011, you may expect to hear from them sometime between March and April 2012 (First Stage of Approvals take about 10 to 11 months, from the date they are received, to be proceeded). It could be, in fact, longer due to the fact that they may send your application to a local CIC office for an interview, which almost inevitably adds more processing time.
Also, based on the aforementioned scenario, as of right now you may have several opportunities to obtain a status in Canada:
• The refugee claim. For citizens from Israel, especially when considering your double nationality, this may proof to be tough.
• The INLAND spousal sponsorship. This, as explained above, would be possible if CIC gives you enough time to process it while the refuge claim is decided.
• You could also file a petition based on H&C grounds if your refugee claim gets rejected. Ask your lawyer weather or not this is pertinent in your case, and especially when the right time is to file it. Most failed refugee claimants file it anyways, but your case is special in that you would invoke the relief based on the fact that you are married to a Canadian citizen, and that a separation would be damaging to both parties.
• Also, in case that the refugee claim gets rejected by the IRB, you might be able to obtain a Stay of Removal. This administrative relief would temporarily put on hold the enforcement of the deportation order while the spousal sponsorship gets successfully processed. (It is because of this type of things that you need a good lawyer).
• If everything else fails, you could always file an OUTLAND spousal sponsorship, provided that you leave when CIC tells you to. If you fail to do so, you'll have MAJOR problems to come back. (Be very careful about it; even if you do not get some sort of notice about your deportation order in the mail, well, this is not an acceptable excuse not to leave. It is your responsibility to know exactly what is going on with your case, and what needs to be done. They may have excused you once because of the “wrong address” situation, but when it comes to deportation orders, CIC is, well, pretty unforgiving.) The OUTLAND option has proven to be a blessing to many, so make sure that you remain eligible to use it.
It is understood that I am not an immigration lawyer, and that all the above is just my opinion based on my own experience with this type of cases. In fact, the best advice I can give you is to get a good lawyer. Also, exercise a lot of patience and persevere, no matter how difficult things may appear to be at times. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.