Government of Canada Eliminates Conditional Permanent Residence for Spouses and Partners

Backgrounder

On October 25, 2012, conditional permanent residence was introduced for sponsored spouses and partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who were in a relationship of two years or less and had no children in common, at the time of their sponsorship application. Since that time, more than 100 000 individuals have come to Canada as conditional permanent residents.

The condition was introduced as a means to deter people from seeking to immigrate to Canada through non-genuine relationships. It required the sponsored spouse or partner to live in a conjugal relationship with their sponsor for two years unless they were the victim of abuse or the sponsor died.

As a result, an imbalance was created between the sponsor and the sponsored individual, as only the sponsored spouse or partner could lose their status if the two-year cohabitation condition was not met. Stakeholders expressed concerns that this placed abused spouses and partners in a vulnerable position.

Even though there was an exception to the condition for people in such situations, it is possible a victim may not have been aware of it or may have chosen to stay in the abusive relationship for a number of reasons. Those could include the fear of coming forward, the perceived challenge of proving the abuse or neglect, fear of needing to continue to live with their alleged abuser, or fear of having their status revoked and being removed from Canada if the exception was not granted.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada assessed the impact of conditional permanent residence. It was determined that, on balance, using conditional permanent residence as a tool to deter marriage fraud had not proved to outweigh the potential risks to vulnerable sponsored spouses and partners.

Now that conditional permanent residence has been eliminated, anyone who was sponsored by someone who was subject to the condition and therefore also received conditional permanent residence him or herself, such as a child or a parent, has also had the condition lifted.

The Government takes marriage fraud seriously and continues to have measures in place to safeguard against it. Immigration officers are trained to assess all applications and must be satisfied that a relationship is legitimate before granting the sponsored spouse or partner their permanent residence.

In instances where marriage fraud may surface, these cases are investigated and the sponsored individual may lose their permanent resident status and be removed from Canada on the basis of misrepresentation. There is also a five-year bar on sponsorship to deter people from using a marriage of convenience to come to Canada.

Sponsored spouses or partners must wait five years from the day they are granted permanent residence in Canada before they themselves are eligible to sponsor a new spouse or partner. In addition, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada works closely with Public Safety Canada and its portfolio agencies on risk indicators and anti-fraud initiatives.

With the elimination of conditional permanent residence, any case that was under investigation for non-compliance with the cohabitation condition has ceased. However, cases involving marriage fraud will continue to be investigated.


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