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The government of Canada has given couples going through the process of spousal or common-law sponsorship for immigration to Canada a Valentine’s Day gift, with the news that 80 percent of the backlog in applications has now been cleared.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) staff have managed to reduce what had become a vast backlog of applications, bringing it from roughly 75,000 down to about 15,000 in just over a year.

Speaking in Mississauga, Ontario, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen also announced that the majority of applications are now being processed within the 12-month commitment outlined by his predecessor in the position, John McCallum, in December, 2016.

This is a vast reduction in a system that until 2016 was typically experiencing application processing times of more than two years.

“We want all newcomers to integrate well into their new communities and succeed, and speeding up family reunification helps to do just that,” stated Hussen.

“Moving to a new country can be a difficult process, especially when it comes to spouses and partners who are separated by time and distance.

“Canadians with a partner or spouse who is abroad shouldn’t have to wait for years to have them immigrate to Canada. Nor should those in the country be left uncertain as to whether they will be allowed to stay in Canada.”

The Immigration Minister also announced that as of today further updates to the checklists and guides for spousal sponsorship have been made. In addition, some tweaks to the overall process will aim to make the process more efficient for applicants and IRCC staff alike.

“As of today, we have also changed where some of the requirements are placed in the spousal application process so that spousal applicants must now submit their background declaration forms, as well as their police certificates, as part of the initial paper application package,” announced Hussen.

“These changes will help us process applications even faster, and avoid unnecessary delays.”

Initial updates to these checklists and guides were made in June, 2017. The latest updates supersede those previous updates.

Under its multi-year immigration plan, the government expects to grant permanent residence to more than 200,000 foreign spouses and common-law partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents between 2018 and 2020.

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