IRCC Minister Transition Binder 2019: Family Reunification

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Area at a Glance

Family reunification is comprised of programs that allow eligible sponsors to bring their family members to Canada as permanent residents.

It is a longstanding component of Canada’s immigration system, reflecting the objective of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, “to see that families are reunited in Canada,” and has accounted for approximately 27% of annual admissions in recent years (over 85,000 in 2018).

Categories of persons who may obtain permanent residency through family reunification include:

Scope of Impact

Family reunification plays an important role in attracting, retaining and integrating immigrants:

Current Program

Two Core Programs

Spouses, Partners, and Children

Parents and Grandparents

Family Class Admissions, 2009-2018

Family Class Admissions as described below

Text version: Departmental spending trend graph
Year Admissions Percentage of total immigration admissions
2009 71,981 29%
2010 65,552 23%
2011 61,332 25%
2012 69,867 27%
2013 83,377 32%
2014 67,647 26%
2015 65,485 24%
2016 78,000 26%
2017 82,468 29%
2018 85,167 27%
Family Class Admissions by Category, 2018
Category Percentage of admissions
Sponsored Spouse or Partner 74%
Sponsored Parent or Grandparent 21%
Sponsored Extended Family Member 1%
Sponsored Children 4%

Recent Developments

Spouses & Partners – Processing Times

Parents & Grandparents – Intake System

Quebec – Family Class


Key Takeaways

Family reunification is an important and significant component of Canada’s immigration program.

Pressures in the program arise from demand routinely outstripping capacity for admissions and processing, and from the advocacy of newcomer communities for further facilitation and fairness.

Program demand and pressure is likely to continue given the effect of overall increased temporary and permanent immigration and later sponsorship (i.e., recent immigrants’ propensity to be family sponsors in years after landing).

Given the need for new Ministerial Instructions before January 2020, an early briefing is recommended on considerations and options for the 2020 intake of the Parents and Grandparents Program.

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