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Immigration Updates

Liberal Government promises sweeping changes

March 30, 2016

In recent weeks, the Liberal government has made commitments to repeal two controversial pieces of legislation that were enacted under the Harper Government.

The first is to repeal conditional permanent residency. Currently, many spouses who are sponsored to come to Canada must remain with their spouses for a 2-year period before their status becomes permanent. If they leave the relationship, they risk losing their PR status. Activists, women’s groups and legal advocates have strongly criticized this measure on the basis that it forces women in particular, who fear being deported, to remain with abusive partners. Although there is an ‘abuse exception’ to this condition, the reality is that it is not always effective nor accessible.

Although supporters of this provision maintain that it is an effective method to combat immigration and marriage fraud, ensuring that sponsored spouses are not simply arriving in Canada with the intention to leave their spouses as soon as they obtain permanent status, our legal system already has measures in place to prevent marriage fraud. Every couple who applies through the spousal sponsorship process must submit ample proof of the genuine nature of the marriage. Further, the applicant has to attend an interview at a designated Canadian visa office abroad, where an Officer asks several questions about the nature of the relationship and tests the knowledge that the applicant has of his or her spouse. This system should provide an effective stop-gap to prevent marriage fraud without the need to place further ‘conditions’ on a spouse once he or she arrives in Canada.

The second commitment announced by the government is to repeal parts of Bill C-24, which made significant and controversial changes to Canada’s citizenship process. The government has announced the intent to repeal several measures, including:

  • A repeal of the government’s authority to revoke citizenship for acts of terrorism, treason, or other offences against the National Interest of Canada;
  • No longer requiring applicants to prove an intent to reside in Canada;
  • Reverting back to the physical presence requirement of 3 years out of 5;
  • The ability to again count each day spent as a temporary resident as a half-day towards the physical presence requirement, and
  • Changing the age of those who must meet language requirements back to 18-54.

Please stay tuned to our website for more updates on these changes.