Liberals scrap two-year waiting period for foreign spouses of Canadians

The Government of Canada announced on April 28, 2017 that it is removing a condition which requires spouses and partners of Canadian citizens to live with their sponsors for two years after arriving in Canada in order to keep their permanent resident status.

The new measure, which will grant foreign nationals permanent residence on arrival in Canada, will make it easier and faster for them to become Canadians. It also supports the Government’s commitment to gender equality and to combatting gender violence and is intended to prevent sponsored spouses from remaining in abusive situations for fear of losing their status in Canada.

“We’re doing away with a measure that could have made a bad situation worse by possibly making people feel they needed to stay in abusive situations just to keep their status in Canada. Removing conditional permanent residence is another example of the Government’s commitment for family reunification and making it easier for immigrants to build successful lives in Canada” – Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
“Our Government is committed to advancing gender equality and to reducing gender-based violence. By eliminating conditional permanent residence, we can help ensure that people coming to Canada are kept safe from gender-based violence as they seek a chance at a better life” – Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women

In 2012, the previous Conservative government introduced a fraud prevention mechanism intended to deter people from using marriages of convenience to cheat their way into Canada. The regulations, which helped identify fraudulent applications in the family reunification program, applied to spouses or partners in a relationship of two years or less who have no children in common with their sponsor at the time they submitted their sponsorship application.

Under the old rules, the spouse or partner had to live in a legitimate relationship with their sponsor for two years from the day on which they received their permanent resident status in Canada. The status of the sponsored spouse or partner could be revoked if they did not remain in the relationship.

“The jig is up on marriage fraud”, former Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney said at that time. “I have consulted widely with Canadians, and especially with victims of marriage fraud, who have told me clearly that we must take action to stop this abuse of our immigration system…

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