Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has recently announced several important changes to existing immigration programs.
On December 15, 2016, IRCC released detailed changes to the way spousal sponsorships would be submitted and processed in 2017. These changes include:
- Creating one application package to be used by all applicants instead of the two existing packages
- Introducing an instruction guide that is easier to follow
- Providing applicants with a personalized document checklist as opposed to the former generic one
- Designing a shorter and more simplified relationship questionnaire
- Making it easier for applicants to access information about their application online
- Requesting medical exams from applicants later in the process instead of the previous requirement to submit them with the initial application
- Asking applicants to provide police certificates only from the country where they’re currently living (except Canada) and from the country where they spent most of their life since the age of 18. In the past, applicants were required to submit police certificates from any foreign country they’d been in for more than a total of six months since the age of 18.
IRCC also said that 80% of spousal sponsorships would be finalized within 12 months, regardless of whether they were processed within Canada or at a Visa Post abroad.
Parent and grandparent sponsorships
In the past, parent and grandparent sponsorship applications were processed on a first-come, first-served basis. This meant that people were lined up outside the IRCC office in Mississauga, Ontario waiting to submit sponsorship applications as soon as the category opened on the first business day of the new year.
On December 14, 2016, IRCC announced that the 10,000 spaces reserved for sponsored parents and grandparents would be filled through a random draw as opposed to whoever was first in line. Starting January 3, 2017, potential sponsors had 30 days to submit an online form indicating their desire to sponsor a parent or grandparent. It appears that the draw will be held in February. People who are not selected for the 2017 intake will have the opportunity to enter the draw again in 2018.
Four year maximum for working in Canada
While most of the recent immigration developments were related to family sponsorships, an important change also happened when IRCC reversed the Temporary Foreign Worker program’s “Cumulative Duration” regulation on December 13, 2016.
The Cumulative Duration regulation was created to stop people in mid-skilled and low-skilled jobs from extending their work permits indefinitely. The regulation stated that most people could not work in Canada for more than a total of four years. When a worker reached the four-year mark, they were required to stop working in Canada for four consecutive years before being able to work in Canada again.
Once the regulation was removed, anyone with a valid work permit could apply to have their permit extended beyond the previous four-year limit. In addition, anyone who had a work permit extension refused because of the Cumulative Duration regulation were now able to apply for a new work permit, provided they continued to meet all the other eligibility requirements.
Kerry Molitor is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant based in Toronto, Canada. Through her company, Kelen Immigration Services, Kerry helps people come to Canada and stay here once they have arrived.