the CanadaVisa Team - 31 October, 2016
On October 29, 2016, the government of Canada released a draft of a change to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), which would repeal the conditional permanent residence regulatory provisions for certain sponsored spouses and common-law partners. If approved, the change is expected to come into force in spring 2017.
Currently, if a sponsored spouse/partner has been in a relationship with his or her sponsor for two years or less and they have no children together, the sponsored spouse/partner must live together in a conjugal relationship with his or her sponsor for two continuous years after obtaining Canadian permanent resident status. If this condition does not continue to be met for the two-year duration, the sponsored spouse/partner risks losing his or her permanent resident status.
The proposed changes to the IRPR would repeal this condition.
Under the amended regulations, a sponsored spouse/partner would not be required to live with his or her spouse/partner (the sponsor) for two years after obtaining his or her permanent resident status. If approved, the regulatory change would apply to sponsored spouses/partners in Canada, as well as current and future applicants.
Consequently, any individual who obtained conditional permanent resident status under the current regulations would no longer be subject to the cohabitation requirement. For example, an individual who obtained conditional permanent resident status in May 2016 — and who would therefore have to cohabit with the sponsoring spouse/partner until May 2018 to maintain his or her permanent resident status under the current regulations — would be able to leave the sponsoring spouse/partner after the proposed change comes into effect.
The current conditional permanent residence regulatory provisions came into effect on October 25, 2012, under the previous Conservative government. The original aim of the cohabitation condition was to safeguard against fraudulent applications from applicants who are not in a genuine relationship.
Under the current regulations, a sponsored spouse/partner may request an exception to the conditional permanent residence clause if his or her spouse/partner (the sponsor) dies, or if the sponsoring spouse/partner is abusive or neglectful (abuse may be physical, sexual, psychological, and/or financial). However, the government acknowledges in its statement of the proposed change that many sponsored spouse/partners in abusive relationships may be unaware of the exception, or reluctant to make an appeal to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for fear of losing their status.
The conditional permanent residence regulatory provisions have been criticised for creating an imbalance between the sponsoring and sponsored spouse/partner, which disproportionately affects vulnerable spouses/partners in abusive or neglectful relationships. The statement explains that the repeal of the conditional permanent residence regulatory provisions “support[s] the government’s commitment to family reunification and its emphasis on gender equality and combatting gender-based violence.”
The statement also clarifies that there are other provisions in place to deter and detect fraudulent applications. Namely, visa officers assess all applications to identify whether the application is genuine. In addition, individuals who obtain Canadian permanent resident status through spousal sponsorship must wait five years before they themselves may sponsor a new spouse/partner.
The proposed change will remain as a draft for a period of 30 days, during which time IRCC will receive comments from the public on the proposed change. Individuals who wish to comment on the change may contact David Cashaback, Director of the Social Immigration Policy and Programs department of IRCC, at IRCC.ConditionalPermanentRes-ResPermanenteConditionnelle.IRCC@cic.gc.ca.