Effective June 10, 2015, few new regulations have come into effect for spousal, common-law, and conjugal partner sponsorship for Canadian immigration.
The first amendment refers to minimum age of eligibility as a result of Canadian government’s attempt to protect women and girls from child, early, and forced marriages. Before June 10, a 16-year-old foreign national was eligible to immigrate to Canada as a spouse or partner of a Canadian permanent resident or citizen. With the new regulations, the minimum age of eligibility has increase to 18.
There are, however, two exceptions to this amendment. In the case where the partner/Spouse (under 18) is still dependent on their parents they will be considered dependent children and/or de facto family members, rather than spouses.
For partners/spouses under the age of 18 in refugee camps, officers are advised to use their personal judgement/assessment on a case-by-case basis offering flexibility and sensitivity to vulnerable applicants. These applicants can be considered “de facto dependents” or they can be tried on humanitarian and compassionate grounds if that doesn’t apply.
Proxy marriages not acceptable
Another regulation that came into effect this week makes proxy, telephone, fax, internet, or similar marriages unacceptable for spousal sponsorship.
Proxy marriages are the marriages where one or both parties are not present at the marriage ceremony, and are represented by another person. Other forms of proxy marriages are marriages that are performed using Telephone, fax, or internet accessibility (may include face time, Skype etc). Those are the marriages where partners are present physically in the ceremony.
Before the regulation came into effect, a marriage that took place in the above mentioned manner was eligible for spousal sponsorship as long as it was valid in thunder try it took place. However, after the new regulation, these forms of marriage are referred to as “excluded relationships” and are no longer eligible for spousal sponsorship.
Again the focus of these changes are to protect the vulnerable women/girls from forced marriage without or with forced consent as one of the partner is not physically present hence there is very less contact between the two.
Similar to last amendment, there are exceptions to this amendment.
If the individual is part of Canadian Armed Forces and was not present due to travel relating to his or her service, the marriage may still be considered valid.
If the marriage falls under the category of “excluded relationships” but the individual meets the definition of a common-law partner, the application will be processed under category of common-law partner rather than spouse.
In the case where individual’s safety is at risk, offices will be flexible and sensitive and handle the case with their best judgement.
There was also a small modifications to the five-year sponsorship for persons who were previously sponsored to come to Canada as a spouse or partner. This effect anyone who came to Canada as a spouse or partner of a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident but in case of death of previous partner/spouse or divorce is intending to remarry and bring someone from outside Canada. The modifications as mentioned by CIC are as follows:
“A sponsor who became a permanent resident or a Canadian Citizen after being sponsored as a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner […] may not sponsor a foreign national […] 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 […] is filed by the sponsor in respect of the foreign national.”
It is very important to note that all these changes apply to the applications that were recieved by CIC after June 19, 2015. Any application that was received earlier than that will still be processed per previous rules