Sponsoring a Spouse in Canada: Rules

Canada allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor a spouse to Canada as a permanent resident. This can be done one of two ways: either the sponsored spouse is already in Canada on a work, study or visitor visa and has married a Canadian, or the couple is married (or common-law) but the sponsored spouse is still overseas. Once the sponsorship application is approved, the spouse becomes a permanent resident in Canada. 

In 2012 alone, the government of Canada made two new rules affecting spousal sponsorship applications. The first, made in March, means that permanent residents who were sponsored as spouses themselves in Canada cannot sponsor another spouse until they’ve waited five years from getting their own permanent residency status.

Now, in October, Canada has introduced the second new rule: the married couple must prove their marriage is legitimate by remaining married for two years, otherwise the sponsored spouse loses their permanent resident status. If the sponsored spouse loses their permanent resident status, they can end up being deported from Canada.

The second new rule was introduced earlier this year but was subject to public input and finalization until now.

Could new spousal sponsorship rules create a dangerous situation?

The Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women was only one of many critics of the new rule when it was first brought up by the government, saying that it could force abused spouses to remain in dangerous marriages for fear of being deported if they leave.

While the government has said that with the new rule, the two-year probationary status will not be forced upon those in domestic abuse situations, the onus will be on the abused spouse to prove so, which could be very unsafe for the abused spouses.

The rule takes effect October 26th, and any spousal sponsorship applications received after that date will be subject to the new rules.

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