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Small Changes Big Impacts

Recent changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program’s (TFWP) compliance regime have garnered widespread publicity and response. However, several additional amendments were made to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations that could impact an individual's immigration to Canada. These amendments also come into force on December 1, 2015.

Firstly, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) can now obtain residency and income information directly from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to verify information provided on permanent resident and sponsorship applications. This new power applies to applications for renewal or replacement of permanent resident cards, permanent resident travel documents or applications to sponsor parents or grandparents as members of the family class. The stated rationale for these changes includes processing efficiency and robust verification for these applications.

Secondly, changes have been made to what CIC accepts as a valid marriage for immigration purposes. To have a marriage recognized by CIC both parties must have been physically present at the marriage ceremony═ż this is subject to a narrow exception for Canadian Forces members. CIC has also  raised the minimum age of eligibility of a spouse from 16 years of age to 18 years of age. While CIC has acknowledged that sponsorship applications involving minor spouses formed a small percentage of the overall number of applications, the decision to increase the age was made in the context of a broader policy concerns regarding the vulnerability of women.

Finally, the amendments have addressed the unintended consequence of the Regulations that barred certain Canadian citizens who were sponsored as spouses or partners from ever being eligible to sponsor a subsequent foreign national as a spouse of partner. For these individuals, any time spent as a permanent resident or a Canadian citizen is now counted towards the 5­year waiting period before a sponsored spouse or partner can sponsor a subsequent spouse or partner. 

Field Law’s Immigration Group regularly prepares and submits family class applications for permanent residence, PR Cards, citizenship and related matters, including children subject to guardianship orders.