October 27, 2023

Immigration Minister: Family Reunification Measures Announced.

In an exciting development for families seeking to reunite in Canada, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Sean Fraser, has recently unveiled a series of measures aimed at enhancing family class immigration. These measures, announced on May 26th, 2023, bring about faster processing times for temporary resident visas (TRV), the introduction of dedicated processing tools, open work permits for spousal and family class applicants, and extensions for open work permit holders. This comprehensive blog will delve into the details of these measures and their implications for families eager to be together in Canada.


Faster TRV Processing Times for Spousal Applicants

Recognizing the significant wait times faced by spousal applicants for TRVs, Minister Fraser has implemented measures to expedite the processing times. Previously, many applicants from visa-required countries were denied on the grounds of being unlikely to return home, despite eventually being approved for permanent residency. With the new approach, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has successfully cleared the backlog of TRV applications for family members with pending permanent residency applications. The improved processing framework has achieved an impressive approval rate of over 98% for spouses and their children, allowing them to be with their families while awaiting permanent residency processing.


Dedicated Processing Tools for Spousal TRV Applicants

To further enhance the efficiency of spousal TRV applications, IRCC has developed new and dedicated processing tools. These tools streamline the application process, ensuring that spousal applicants receive prompt and accurate assessments. With these advancements, the goal is to achieve processing times within 30 days, enabling family members to reunite with their loved ones in Canada more quickly.


Introduction of Open Work Permits for Spousal and Family Class Applicants

One of the significant updates to family-class immigration is the introduction of open work permits for spousal and family-class applicants. Previously limited to inland spousal programs, this provision now extends to applicants applying outside Canada as well. Spouses, partners, and dependents who reside with their sponsors in Canada and hold temporary resident status can now apply for and receive open work permits upon submitting a complete permanent residence application under the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class (SPCLC) or other family class programs. This initiative allows family members to actively contribute to the Canadian workforce while awaiting the processing of their permanent residency applications.


Extensions for Open Work Permit Holders

Effective from June 7th, 2023, open work permit holders facing permit expiry between August 1st and the end of 2023 will have the opportunity to extend their permits for 18 months through a facilitated process. This extension applies to approximately 25,000 individuals currently residing in Canada and authorized to work. It encompasses spouses and dependents of most temporary workers, spouses of international students, and even those awaiting the finalization of their permanent residency applications along with their spouses and dependents. This extension will alleviate concerns about work authorization, allowing families to maintain stability and security while progressing through the immigration process.


Family Class Sponsorship

Family class sponsorship remains a vital pathway for Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their loved ones to join them in Canada and obtain permanent residency. Under Canada's Immigration Levels Plan, family class immigration is the second-largest category, with an expected intake of 106,500 newcomers in 2023. This includes 78,000 individuals in the spouses, partners, and children category and 28,500 individuals in the parents and grandparents category. By 2025, Canada aims to welcome 118,000 newcomers through family class immigration.

To be eligible as a sponsor, individuals must meet specific criteria, including being a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, being 18 years of age or older, and not being incarcerated, bankrupt, under a removal order, or charged with a serious offense. Additionally, sponsors must not have been sponsored as a spouse within the last five years. Spouses, common-law partners, conjugal partners, children, parents, and grandparents can all be sponsored, provided they meet the necessary eligibility requirements.


Bottom line

The measures announced by Immigration Minister Sean Fraser to strengthen family class immigration in Canada mark a significant step towards facilitating family reunification. The introduction of faster TRV processing times, dedicated processing tools, open work permits for spousal and family class applicants, and extensions for open work permit holders demonstrate the government's commitment to prioritizing family unity and timely immigration processes. These improvements not only streamline the application process but also provide families with the opportunity to be together in Canada sooner, while actively contributing to the country's workforce. With these measures in place, prospective immigrants can look forward to a more efficient and inclusive family class immigration system in Canada.


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