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The government has announced plans which would allow foreign, sponsored spouses of Canadians to become permanent residents as soon as they arrive in Canada.

Immigration Minister John McCallum told The Hill Times in an interview that the Liberal government is planning to bring in the changes in the “next couple of months”.

The paper explains that under the existing system, spouses of Canadians become conditional permanent residents, and need to wait for two years to elapse before being granted full permanent resident status.

The rights and entitlements as a conditional permanent resident are largely the same being a regular permanent resident, however residency can be revoked if the relationship breaks down.

The rule was introduced by the previous Conservative administration in 2012 to counteract what the Canada Border Service Agency described as fraudulent “marriages of convenience”.

Mr McCallum also told the paper that the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (still sometimes referred to as Citizenship and Immigration Canada) is committed to speeding up processing times for spouses seeking sponsorship.

At present, it can take up to two years for the application to be processed, and then the sponsored spouse spends two years as a conditional permanent resident. Mr McCallum described the situation as “abominable”, and the paper reports that immigration issues are the main source of queries to MPs from the public in urban areas.


Citing immigration lawyers, The Vancouver Sun says there is anecdotal evidence the conditional permanent resident rules were effective in dealing with marriage fraud.

However, others are welcoming the moves by the Liberal government. Because conditional permanent resident status can be revoked following a relationship breakdown, there are concerns this prevents people from leaving an abusive relationship.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Sun is also reporting that a second part of the 2012 rules is being retained. It prohibits anyone who used the spousal program to sponsor someone, or who had been sponsored themselves, from using it again for five years.

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