Citizenship and Immigration Minister John McCallum announced today that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is taking measures intended to reduce backlog and improve processing times for spousal sponsorship applications, both for overseas and in-Canada applicants. IRCC has committed to processing approximately 80 percent of the applications currently in the system by the end of December 2017. 80 percent of new applications will now be processed within 12 months. Applications requiring additional criminal, security or medical screening may take longer than the projected 12 month processing time. Files will continue to be processed in the order which they were received.
IRCC also intends to make the sponsorship process easier to navigate for applicants. To that end, they will be updating the spousal sponsorship forms and guide on December 15th 2016. Applications using the current forms will continue to be accepted until January 31st 2017. Applications which are incomplete will be returned in order to facilitate more efficient processing. Spousal Sponsorship applicants using the new application kit should read the guides and document checklists carefully, and ensure that all mandatory documents are included before submitting an application.
Minister McCallum also announced the extension of IRCC’s pilot program allowing eligible spouses or common-law partners who are being sponsored from within Canada to apply for a work permit while their applications are being processed. The program has been extended until December 21st 2017.
Improved processing times will be welcome news to many applicants, and reflect Canada’s commitment to family reunification under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The current long processing times have been difficult for spouses and common-law partners who sometimes must wait years before they are able to live together in Canada. The extension of the open work permit pilot program in-Canada spousal sponsorship will continue to benefit in-Canada applicants by allowing them to work while their application is processing.