Is Canada spousal sponsorship in crisis due to COVID-19? - Canada Visa & Immigration
canada spousal sponsorship

Is Canada spousal sponsorship in crisis due to COVID-19?

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Like other countries around the world, Canada spousal sponsorship process is under a lot of pressure during these COVID-19 times. The Canadian government is committed, and has always made consistent efforts, to ensure that immigrant families are able to stay together. The standard processing time for most family sponsorship applications has been streamlined to 12 months prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Canada’s Family Class Sponsorship programs are some of the most generous family reunification programs in the developed world. One of the most widely used Family Class streams is the Canada Spousal Sponsorship stream, which facilitates immigration for spouses and common-law partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

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canada spousal sponsorship
Canada Immigration Levels Plan: Family Reunification
2018 2019 2020
Spouses, Partners, and Children 66,000 68,000 70,000
Parents and Grandparents 20,000 20,500 21,000
Total Family 86,000 88,500 91,000
Source: IRCC

Unfortunately the coronavirus pandemic has upended Canada Spousal Sponsorship stream processes, processing and support services, just like the pandemic has on other immigration programs including students visa, work permit and visiting visa processes. The pandemic has worsened a situation in which families already feel that Temporary Resident Visas (TRV) to visit spouses and families are often denied because applicants have to demonstrate that they would leave Canada at the end of their authorized stay if their permanent residence application is not finalized.

You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.

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There are countless post-Covid-19 Canada spousal sponsorship horror stories on social media, including the Facebook account of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) The common thread of each story is how family unit has become disrupted as a result of the spousal sponsorship delays consequent to the coronavirus pandemic. See for example Canadian Spousal Sponsorship Applicants Affected by Covid-19.

Moreover, most express dismay that they had received no update or communication from IRCC on the status of their applications since February 2020.

What is IRCC doing to alleviate spousal sponsorship delays?

This is the utmost question on the minds of couples and families affected by the spousal sponsorship delays. The government’s website candidly states that due to the impacts of the coronavirus it is unable to process applications normally or provide accurate processing times. 

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Understandably, Canadians who have been separated from their foreign national loved ones for an extended period of time are mounting pressure on the federal government to take action. To call attention to their plights peaceful rallies have been held in cities like Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver.

canada spousal sponsorship

A grassroot movement called Spousal Sponsorship Advocates is organizing rallies around the country for September 19, 2020. A Facebook group called “Canadian Spousal Sponsorship Applicants Affected by COVID-19” is asking the government to “prioritize” family sponsorship applications.

Jenny Kwan, Member of Parliament, said she has heard from people across the country who are experiencing lengthy delays with spousal applications. Ms. Kwan said she wrote a letter to Immigration Minister, Marco Mendicino, outlining her concerns and including examples of delays and the problems they are causing for people.

A petition, lead by Ms. Kwan has received several thousand signatures calling for the creation of a Special Temporary Resident Visa to allow spouses and their children to reunite with their Canadian partners.

The immigration minister responded to Kwan’s letter and acknowledged that COVID-19 has caused service disruptions within the government, and that they are still operating on reduced capacity. He listed the measures the department has taken to accommodate foreign spouses such as extending deadlines for submitting documents, and giving permanent resident applicants more time to apply to extend their stay in Canada, among others. Sponsors and applicants are assured that no application will be closed or refused due to a lack of documentation or an inability to complete the application process under the normal timelines during these pandemic times.

The minister of immigration also mentioned the “dual intent” solution: “an applicant seeking permanent residence does not prevent them from seeking temporary residence.” Meaning that people can be in Canada on a temporary residence permit while waiting on their application for permanent residence to be approved.

Similarly Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament who has just been appointed as the official critic for IRCC in the Conservative party’s shadow cabinet published her first open letter, where she recognizes the importance of family unification and the plights of spouses and families during this pandemic times.

canada spousal sponsorship

A group of women and mothers also sent an open letter to the immigration minister on September 5, 2020:

We at AfriCanada Immigration understand and share your pain. The pandemic has resulted in unprecedented challenges for all immigration services in all countries, and we know this has been a difficult time for families and others who are making their way through the immigration system. We can assure you that the government of Canada is doing its best, better than most countries, to resolve this and other immigration problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

It is important that applicants remain patient and recognize profoundly that it is the pandemic, and not Canada that has stalled what used to be a very decent and fair process. Indeed, international spouses of Canadians are exempt from travel restrictions, but the coronavirus is making it difficult for couples to reunite because for example. crucial service outlets, like biometric centres and visa application centres are closed around the world or operating at reduced capacity making processing times slow.


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You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.