Vol. 145, No. 14 — April 2, 2011
ARCHIVED — Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Department of Citizenship and Immigration
(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)
Issue and objectives
One of the objectives of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) is to facilitate family reunification. As such, Canadian citizens and permanent residents may sponsor their spouse or partner as a Canadian permanent resident. Spousal sponsorship requires an undertaking of financial responsibility for a spouse or partner for three years. If the relationship breaks down, the sponsor remains financially responsible until the end of the three-year undertaking period, irrespective of the causes of the breakdown. As well, a sponsor may not sponsor a subsequent spouse or partner for the duration of the three-year undertaking period.
Spousal sponsorship is open to abuse when individuals enter into non bona fide relationships in order to facilitate entry into Canada. Relationships that are not genuine or that have been entered into primarily in order to gain status or privilege under Canada’s immigration laws are barred under section 4 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).
In some fraudulent relationships, both parties may be aware that the relationship is for immigration purposes. In others, the sponsor believes the relationship to be genuine, while the sponsored foreign national intends to dissolve the relationship shortly after being granted permanent residence in Canada. In some instances, the newly arrived permanent resident then sponsors a new spouse or common-law partner for immigration, while the original sponsor remains bound to their financial undertaking. Both types of relationships of convenience undermine the integrity of Canada’s immigration program.
While firm figures on the extent of bad faith relationships are not available, we do know that, in 2009, there were nearly 49 500 applications received for spouses and partners (in persons) at Canadian missions abroad. Of these, just under 20% were refused for various reasons — some on the basis of evidence that the relationship was not bona fide.
Although non bona fide relationships are prohibited under the IRPR, they are often a challenge to identify and substantiate. Additional measures are needed to deter individuals who might otherwise use a relationship of convenience from circumventing our immigration laws in order to protect the integrity of our immigration system.
The objectives of the proposed amendments are to
- (a) strengthen the integrity of our immigration system by creating a deterrent to relationships of convenience; and
- (b) clarify portions of the existing subsection 130(2) of the IRPR with regards to sponsorship.
Description and rationale
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is proposing amendments to section 130 of the IRPR, which describes the criteria that an individual must meet in order to sponsor a foreign national making an application for permanent residence as a member of the family class or the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class. The proposed amendments would bar a sponsor who became a permanent resident after being sponsored as a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner from sponsoring a new spouse, common-law or conjugal partner unless the sponsor became a permanent resident not less than five years immediately preceding the day on which the application for a permanent resident visa or the application to remain in Canada is filed by the foreign national, even if the sponsor acquired citizenship during that period. Other members of the family class would not be affected by the proposed regulatory changes.
The primary intent of the amendments is to create a disincentive for a sponsored spouse or partner to use a relationship of convenience as a means of circumventing Canada’s immigration laws, abandoning their sponsor soon after arriving in the country, then seeking to sponsor a new spouse or partner.
The proposed five-year bar would be consistent with similar restrictions imposed by Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
Minor editorial changes to subsection 130(2) would serve to clarify the existing Regulations with regards to sponsorship of a foreign national. These changes clarify that a sponsor may sponsor a foreign national who makes an application for permanent residence as a spouse or partner, rather than sponsoring an application for permanent residence made by a foreign national as a spouse or partner.
The proposed regulatory changes are not expected to introduce new expenses to the Government. Minimal costs associated with updates to guidelines and operational manuals, standard officer training, and informational materials are expected.
The Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism hosted a series of town hall meetings on relationship fraud in Brampton, Vancouver and Montréal, in fall 2010, to gather the public’s views and ideas on combating relationship fraud. The town hall meetings revealed the impact of these relationships on the lives of Canadians and permanent residents.
In addition to these consultations, CIC held a national online consultation from September 7 to November 10, 2010, to gather the public’s views on relationships of convenience and possible means of addressing them.
The online questionnaire generated approximately 2 400 responses, about 90 of whom identified themselves as representatives of stakeholder organizations. Preliminary findings show that 7 in 10 online respondents considered relationships of convenience to be a serious or very serious threat to the integrity of Canada’s immigration system. The questionnaire also found general support for the introduction of new federal measures to address relationships of convenience. In response to a question specifically on sponsorship bars, approximately 7 in 10 responses indicated support for such a measure.
Consultations with the provinces and territories on potential measures to combat relationships of convenience (including sponsorship bars) were also undertaken in fall 2010. The responses received from provinces were generally supportive of the introduction of a sponsorship bar measure.
Implementation, enforcement and service standards
Implementation of the amendments would require updates to guidelines in policy manuals in order to inform immigration officers of the new Regulations. These guidelines would be made publicly available at www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/manuals/ index.asp#tphp. As these are amendments to the existing Regulations, established enforcement measures and service standards will continue to apply.
Social Policy and Programs
Department of Citizenship and Immigration
365 Laurier Avenue W
Notice is hereby given that the Governor in Council, pursuant to subsection 5(1) and section 14 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (see footnote a), proposes to make the annexed Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.
Interested persons may make representations concerning the proposed Regulations within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. All such representations must cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, and the date of publication of this notice, and be addressed to Judy Jewers, Deputy Director, Social Policy and Programs, Immigration Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration, 365 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1 (tel.: 613-941-3167; fax: 613-941-9323; email: email@example.com).
Ottawa, March 24, 2011
Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council
REGULATIONS AMENDING THE IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE PROTECTION REGULATIONS
1. (1) The portion of subsection 130(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (see footnote 1) before paragraph (a) is replaced by the following:
130. (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), a sponsor, for the purpose of sponsoring a foreign national who makes an application for a permanent resident visa as a member of the family class or an application to remain in Canada as a member of the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class under subsection 13(1) of the Act, must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who
(2) Subsection 130(2) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
Sponsor not residing in Canada
(2) A sponsor who is a Canadian citizen and does not reside in Canada may sponsor a foreign national who makes an application referred to in subsection (1) and is the sponsor’s spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner or dependent child who has no dependent children, if the sponsor will reside in Canada when the foreign national becomes a permanent resident.
(3) A sponsor who became a permanent resident after being sponsored as a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner under subsection 13(1) of the Act may not sponsor a foreign national referred to in subsection (1) as a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner, unless the sponsor became a permanent resident not less than five years immediately preceding the day on which the application referred to in subsection (1) is filed by the foreign national.
COMING INTO FORCE
2. These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.
S.C. 2001, c. 27