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2005-04

GOOD NEWS FOR SPOUSES AND COMMON-LAW PARTNERS

OTTAWA, February 18, 2005 — The Honourable Joe Volpe, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), ended this Valentine’s Day week by announcing today that most spouses and common-law partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, regardless of their status, will be allowed to remain in Canada while their immigration application is being considered. The change, which applies to couples who are in a genuine relationship, comes into effect immediately.

“This change addresses real concerns about the hardships that some couples would experience if they had to be separated during the application process,” said Minister Volpe. “Reuniting families is a key objective of Canada’s immigration law. My department has worked very closely with the Canada Border Services Agency, to ensure that unsuccessful applicants will be required to leave Canada so that our generous immigration program is protected from abuse.”

Spouses and common-law partners who apply outside Canada will continue to be processed on a priority basis so that families can be quickly reunited.

“I’m happy to report continued progress in processing times. For example, most of our missions abroad are processing sponsorship applications of spouses and common-law partners within a six-month period,” added Minister Volpe.

For more information on this policy or how Canadian citizens and permanent residents can sponsor their spouses or common-law partners in Canada, please see attached backgrounder and/or visit CIC’s Web site at www.cic.gc.ca.

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Note: Minister Volpe will be available immediately following Question Period today to respond to comments on this announcement. (Foyer of the House of Commons)

For further information (media only):

Stephen Heckbert
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
(613) 954-1064

Maria Iadinardi
Media Relations
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
(613) 952-0740

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BACKGROUNDER
Sponsorship of Spouses and Common-Law Partners from within Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is committed to reuniting families and making the immigration process easier for genuine spouses and common-law partners living together in Canada. It is also committed to preventing the hardship resulting from the separation of spouses and common-law partners, where possible.

On February 18, 2005, CIC Minister Joe Volpe announced that spouses and common-law partners in Canada, regardless of their immigration status, are now able to apply for permanent residence from within Canada under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class. This change only applies to situations where a family class sponsorship application has been or will be submitted. Criminal, security and health checks will continue to be required under the new policy.

Applicants who do not have valid temporary immigration status and who do not submit a family class sponsorship application may still apply for consideration on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. They will be required to demonstrate that being separated from their partner would result in unusual and undeserved hardship. The processing of humanitarian and compassionate applications takes longer, and applicants cannot include their dependent children. Moreover, they do not have the same benefits as Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class applicants.

Applications Currently in Process
  • Applications that are currently awaiting a decision in the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class will continue to be processed in that class, except that the requirement for valid temporary immigration status will be removed.
  • Applications by spouses or common-law partners who have applied for humanitarian and compassionate consideration because they do not have valid temporary immigration status will automatically be assessed under the new policy if a family class sponsorship application has been submitted.
  • Spouses or common-law partners who do not have a valid temporary immigration status and who have requested humanitarian consideration without submitting a family class sponsorship application will be contacted by CIC if additional information is required.

For more information on how Canadian citizens and permanent residents can sponsor their spouses or common-law partners, please visit CIC’s Web site at www.cic.gc.ca.