Notice – Government addresses spousal backlog and wait times

Ottawa, June 13, 2016 – As part of its commitment to family reunification, the Government of Canada will grant permanent residence to more spouses, partners and dependent children of Canadian citizens and permanent residents this year. This will significantly reduce the backlog of existing applications and speed up processing times going forward.

Each year, the Government sets how many permanent residents Canada intends to admit through its various immigration categories during the year. This is done with the annual immigration levels plan. The plan for 2016 reflects the Government's key priorities for immigration, which include bringing more families together.

This year, the Government increased the number of spaces allowed for spouses, partners and dependent children by 14 000, bringing it up to 62 000 spaces.

Over the past few years, more people have applied to come to Canada in the spousal category than there was space for in previous immigration levels plans; this has created a backlog. This year, the Government will reduce this backlog.

Tackling the spousal backlog will ease the uncertainty faced by spouses and partners wanting to move forward and build their lives in Canada with their family and help them integrate into our communities and our economy.

Increasing the number of admission spaces for spouses and partners is one of the measures the Government has taken to support family reunification. Through Budget 2016, $25 million was also allocated to support faster and more predictable processing times for family sponsorship.

What this means for applicants

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has begun to work on reducing its current spousal sponsorship backlog.

Reducing the backlog means complete and straightforward spousal sponsorship applications will be finalized faster.

The backlog reduction applies to applications received through the family class (overseas processing) as well as the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class (in-Canada processing).

All applications will continue to undergo the necessary screening to ensure that individuals do not pose a health, safety or security risk to Canadians and that the relationships are genuine.

If you have already submitted an application to sponsor your spouse or partner, IRCC may contact you to advise you if we need additional information to help process your application. You do not need to contact us, but please make sure your file is up to date.

If you are contacted, please respond to any communication you receive from us within the time frame provided in order to ensure that we can properly process your application. The success of our efforts relies on your cooperation.

If you have not yet submitted an application to sponsor your spouse or partner but plan to do so, the application will not be dealt with as part of our backlog reduction efforts, but it will be processed as quickly as possible.

IRCC's work to reduce the backlog will eventually benefit all spousal applicants—whether they are already in the backlog or submitting a new application—by bringing down wait times for all.

Find general information on family sponsorship, and find answers to your questions at the Help Centre.

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