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Operational Bulletin 386 – March 2, 2012 – Five-year Sponsorship Bar for persons who were sponsored to come to Canada as a spouse or partner

March 2, 2012
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Summary

A regulatory amendment will bar a person who has been sponsored as a spouse or partner, from sponsoring a new spouse or partner for a five-year period.

Issue

The purpose of this Operational Bulletin (OB) is to inform officers of the regulatory amendment to section 130 of theImmigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) that bars, for a five-year period, a sponsored spouse or partner from sponsoring a new spouse or partner.

Background

One of the objectives of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) is to facilitate family reunification. As such, Canadian citizens and permanent residents (PRs) may sponsor their spouse or partner as a Canadian PR. 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 undertaking.

Spousal sponsorship is open to abuse when individuals enter into non-bona fide relationships in order to obtain status in Canada. 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 becoming a PR, then seeking to sponsor a new spouse or partner.

The amendment to section 130 of the IRPR 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 amendments would bar a previously-sponsored spouse or partner, from sponsoring a new spouse or partner within five years of becoming a PR even if the sponsor acquired citizenship during that period. Other members of the family class will not be affected by the regulatory changes.

Amended Provision

It is important to note that there is no change to the existing regulation 117(9)(b) that states that a sponsor is ineligible to sponsor a spouse or partner, if the sponsor has an existing sponsorship undertaking (in respect of a previous spouse or partner) and the period of that undertaking has not ended.

The amended R130 now includes section (3) to include the five-year sponsorship bar. Changes/additions are highlighted in BOLD and the new Regulation reads as follows:

130. (1) Sponsor – Subject to subsections (2) and (3), a sponsor, for the purpose of sponsoring a foreign national who makes an application for a PR 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 PR who

(a) is at least 18 years of age;

(b) resides in Canada; and

(c) has filed a sponsorship application in respect of a member of the family class or the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class in accordance with section 10.

(2) Sponsor not residing in Canada – 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 PR.

(3) Five-year requirement – A sponsor who became aPR 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 PRnot less than five years immediately preceding the day on which the application referred to in subsection (1) is filed by the foreign national.

Implications

The amendment comes into force on March 2, 2012 upon registration.

Scenarios for previously sponsored spouses/partners:

Date of Sponsorship Application

Eligibility to sponsor

Sponsorship application received prior to regulatory amendment coming into force

Not subject to the 5-year sponsorship bar regardless of date sponsor became a PR

Sponsorship application received on or following the day the regulatory amendment came into force

Subject to the 5-year sponsorship bar

Further information

The following operational manuals will be updated:

IP 2 – Processing Applications to Sponsor Members of the Family Class
IP 8 – Spouse and Common-law partner in Canada Class
OP 2 – Processing Members of the Family Class
OP 24 – Overseas Processing of Family Members of In-Canada Applicants for Permanent Residence


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