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IMMIGRATION ISSUES 026: New rules help sponsors of family members and long-term workers

People who want to sponsor family members or stay in Canada as long-term temporary foreign workers will be affected by major immigration changes that happened last month.

Spousal sponsorships

On December 15, 2016, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada changed how spousal sponsorships will be processed in 2017. These changes include:
· Providing a new instruction guide and forms that are easier to follow;
· Giving applicants a personalized document checklist instead of the former checklist that applied to everyone;
· Letting applicants see more information about their application using their online account;
· Asking applicants to get their medical exam later in the process instead of when they submit their applications;
· Requiring police certificates from only two countries: the country where applicants are currently living (except Canada) and from the country where they spent most of their life since the age of 18. In the past, applicants had to submit police certificates from any foreign country they’d been in for more than a total of six months since the age of 18.

Immigration also said that 80% of spousal sponsorships would be finished in less than a year, regardless of what office processed them.

Parent and grandparent sponsorships

Parent and grandparent sponsorship applications used to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. This meant that people were lined up outside the immigration office in Mississauga, Ontario waiting to submit their sponsorship applications as soon as the category opened on the first business day of the new year.

On December 14, 2016, immigration announced that the 10,000 spaces reserved for sponsored parents and grandparents would be filled through a random draw instead of given to whomever was first in line. Starting January 3, 2017, potential sponsors had 30 days to submit an online form saying that they wanted to sponsor a parent or grandparent. It appears that the draw will be held in February. People who are not selected for the 2017 intake can enter the draw again in 2018.

Four-year maximum for working in Canada reversed

An important change also happened when immigration reversed the Temporary Foreign Worker program’s “Cumulative Duration” regulation on December 13, 2016.

This regulation, created to stop people in mid-skilled and low-skilled jobs from extending their work permits indefinitely, meant that most people could not work in Canada for more than a total of four years. When a worker reached the four-year mark, they had to stop working in Canada for another four years before being able to work in Canada again.

Once the regulation was removed, anyone with a valid work permit could apply to have their permit extended beyond the four-year limit. In addition, anyone who had a work permit extension refused because of the Cumulative Duration regulation can now apply for a new work permit if they continue to meet all the other eligibility requirements.

Looking ahead

January promises to be another interesting month now that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed Ahmed Hussen, a former Somali refugee and current Member of Parliament, as the new Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. Only time will tell what Minister Hussen has planned for our country in the coming year.


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