Operational Bulletin 386 (modified) – March 2, 2012

Five-year Sponsorship Bar for persons who were sponsored to come to Canada as a spouse or partner

Summary

A regulatory amendment bars a person who has been sponsored as a spouse or partner, from sponsoring a spouse or partner for a five-year period.

Issue

The purpose of this Operational Bulletin (OB) is to inform officers of the regulatory amendment to section 130 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) that bars, for a five-year period, a sponsored spouse or partner from sponsoring a spouse or partner.

Background

One of the objectives of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) is to facilitate family reunification. As such, Canadian citizens and permanent residents (PRs) may sponsor their spouse or partner as a Canadian PR. Spousal sponsorship requires an undertaking of financial responsibility for a spouse or partner for three years. If the relationship breaks down, the sponsor remains financially responsible until the end of the three-year undertaking period, irrespective of the causes of the breakdown. As well, a sponsor may not sponsor a subsequent spouse or partner for the duration of the undertaking.

Spousal sponsorship is open to abuse when individuals enter into non-bona fide relationships in order to obtain status in Canada. The primary intent of the amendments is to create a disincentive for a sponsored spouse or partner to use a relationship of convenience as a means of circumventing Canada’s immigration laws, abandoning their sponsor soon after becoming a PR, then seeking to sponsor a spouse or partner.

The amendment to section 130 of the IRPR describes new criteria that an individual must meet in order to sponsor a foreign national making an application for permanent residence as a member of the family class or the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class.

Amended Provision

It is important to note that there is no change to the existing regulation 117(9)(b) that states that a sponsor is ineligible to sponsor a spouse or partner, if the sponsor has an existing sponsorship undertaking (in respect of a previous spouse or partner) and the period of that undertaking has not ended.

The amended R130 includes a minor editorial change to subsection (2) and a new subsection (3) which provides for the five-year sponsorship bar.

A technical amendment was made to subsection 3 on June 10, 2015 to address an unintended consequence of amendments made to paragraph 130(3)(b) of the IRPR in 2012 that resulted in certain Canadian citizens, who were themselves sponsored as spouses, becoming ineligible to sponsor a subsequent spouse or partner.

Changes/additions are highlighted in BOLD and the new Regulation reads as follows:

Sponsor

130. (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), a sponsor, for the purpose of sponsoring a foreign national who makes an application for a permanent resident visa as a member of the family class or an application to remain in Canada as a member of the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class under subsection 13(1) of the Act, must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who

  1. is at least 18 years of age;
  2. resides in Canada; and
  3. has filed a sponsorship application in respect of a member of the family class or the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class in accordance with section 10.

Sponsor not residing in Canada

(2) A sponsor who is a Canadian citizen and does not reside in Canada may sponsor a foreign national who makes an application referred to in subsection (1) and is the sponsor’s spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner or dependent child who has no dependent children, if the sponsor will reside in Canada when the foreign national becomes a permanent resident.

Five-year requirement

(3) A sponsor who became a permanent resident or a Canadian Citizen after being sponsored as a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner under subsection 13(1) of the Act may not sponsor a foreign national referred to in subsection (1) as a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner, unless the sponsor has been a permanent resident, or a Canadian Citizen, or a combination of the two, for a period of at least five years immediately preceding the day on which a sponsorship application referred to in paragraph (1)(c) is filed by the sponsor in respect of the foreign national.

Implications

The amendment, which came into force on March 2, 2012 upon registration, bars a previously-sponsored spouse or partner, from sponsoring a spouse or partner within five years of becoming a PR even if the sponsor acquired citizenship during that period. Other members of the family class will not be affected by the regulatory changes.

Scenarios for previously sponsored spouses/partners:

Date of Sponsorship Application Eligibility to sponsor
Sponsorship application received prior to regulatory amendment coming into force (prior to March 2, 2012) Not subject to the five-year sponsorship bar regardless of date sponsor became a PR
Sponsorship application received on or following the day the regulatory amendment came into force (on or after March 2, 2012) Subject to the five-year sponsorship bar

The technical amendment to subsection 130(3) of the IRPR comes into force on June 10, 2015, and rectifies the unintended consequence of the previous amendment's wording by ensuring that persons who became Canadian citizens after being sponsored as spouses or partners are not barred from sponsoring a new spouse, if they have maintained permanent resident status, citizenship status, or a combination of both, for a minimum of five years after having obtained permanent resident status.

The technical amendment applies to all applications received on or after March 2, 2012, that are pending on the day the regulation comes into force (June 10, 2015) and to applications received after that day.

Further information

The following operational manuals will be updated:

  • IP 2 – Processing Applications to Sponsor Members of the Family Class
  • IP 8 – Spouse and Common-law partner in Canada Class
  • OP 2 – Processing Members of the Family Class
  • OP 24 – Overseas Processing of Family Members of In-Canada Applicants for Permanent Residence
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