Canadian Government Eliminates Conditional Permanent Residence


As a sponsored spouse or partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you were previously required to have lived with your sponsor for at least two years in order to continue your permanent residence. Failing to meet this residence requirement could cause you to lose your permanent resident status. However, this condition was removed by the Canadian government in a bid to display its commitment to reuniting families.

Who will be affected?

The new changes will now apply to those who are in the process of sponsoring their spouses and partners to become permanent residents and anyone else who was subject to the rule. This critical change was made to help minimize the cases of gender violence and to further gender equality. You’ve possibly heard of cases where spouses, as well as partners, would stay in an abusive relationship for years for fear of losing their permanent resident status. Although there was an exception that applied to such situations where partners or spouses were experiencing some form of abuse in the relationship, this was not always easy to prove, and removing the conditional permanent residence will go a long way in helping immigrants experiencing difficult relationships.

How it worked

The conditional permanent residence was introduced by the former Conservative government on October 25th, 2012. After its introduction, many foreign spouses entered Canada as conditional permanent residents. This simply meant that for them to keep their residence status, they had to remain living together with their sponsors for at least two years after landing in Canada. On April 28, 2017, the recently elected Liberal government eliminated this requirement. After that date the two-year requirement is no longer in force, even if the spouse’s permanent resident visa indicates that the permanent residence is subject to the conditional two-year period.

With the current changes, no immigrant should fear walking out of an abusive relationship for fear of losing their status. The government has made it clear that such people will not be subject to loss of status, and that it will continue its efforts to reunite families in Canada. In fact, eliminating this condition is one indication that the government perceives the majority of marriages to foreign nationals are genuine. It shows that the government actually believes that most marriages are made in good faith whenever sponsorship applications are involved.

Why the Canadian government lifted conditional permanent residence

There are several reasons why conditional permanent residence was introduced. First, the Canadian government used this rule to prevent people from entering Canada through marriages of convenience or non-genuine relationships. However, if the sponsor died or the sponsored person was a victim of abuse, this rule could be overlooked by the IRCC.

A few years later after its introduction, some stakeholders expressed their concerns about the conditional permanent residence. The main concern was that the rule failed to protect the sponsored spouses or partners and instead put them in a vulnerable position. In fact, most victims of abuse were simply not aware that there were exceptions to the condition and therefore chose to remain in the abusive relationships rather than risk losing their status in Canada. Many victims feared they would be unable to prove the abuse or neglect by their alleged abuser and that they would face deportation if the exception was rejected. Many victims of abuse were powerless and were prevented from leaving their sponsor or going to the authorities. As a result of these issues, the government agreed that this was a serious problem and scrapped the two-year requirement.

As a sponsored person, you are still required to wait for 5 years from the day you were granted permanent residence before you can sponsor a new spouse or partner to enter Canada. Working with a family sponsorship lawyer helps you to understand your options when filling out the application, and to keep you appraised of any changes to the law that will impact your application.

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