Canada Eliminates Conditional Permanent Residence for Spouses and Partners

After being in effect for five years, the Canadian government eliminated the immigration rule of conditional permanent residents.

This means that sponsored spouses or partners of Canadian citizens or permanent residents no longer have to live with their sponsor for two years to keep their status in Canada.

This action is in accordance with the government’s commitment to family reunification and support of gender equality. “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,” said Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women.

Conditional permanent residence was implemented in efforts to deter people from seeking to immigrate to Canada through marriages of convenience. In order to keep their status, the sponsored spouse or partner needed to meet a two-year cohabitation condition with their sponsor. More than 100 000 individuals have come to Canada as conditional permanent residents since October 2012.

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Despite the good intentions of this condition, it raised a concern about sponsored spouses or partners being trapped in abusive relationships. “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,” stated Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

This change applies to anyone who was subject to the requirement. Additionally, this touches individuals who were sponsored by those affected by the condition, such as parents and children. Their conditional permanent residency is also lifted.

“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,” – Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

Though the original condition already had an exception in the case of abuse, it was possible that victims were not aware of it or chose not to leave for a number of reasons such as the perceived challenge of proving the abuse or neglect, or fear of having their status revoked and being removed from Canada if the exception was not granted. Removing the condition entirely was deemed a better solution to protect those in vulnerable positions.

Marriage fraud is still handled seriously and immigration officers are trained to assess all applications and must be satisfied that a relationship is legitimate before granting the sponsored spouse or partner their permanent residence.

Investigations will still be held in instances of marriage fraud and the sponsored individual may lose their permanent resident status and be removed from Canada in those cases. All investigations focused on non-compliance with the cohabitation condition have ceased.