Canada Spousal Sponsorships Still On Track To Welcome Record Numbers Despite August Dip

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The number of new Canada permanent residents through spousal sponsorship is still on track to welcome a record number of newcomers, despite a dip in August.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) latest data reveals that 4,710 foreign nationals became new permanent residents of Canada through spousal sponsorship programs in August this year, down 1,505 or 24.2 per cent, from the 6,215 in July.

That slump in spousal sponsorship programs is mimicking the trend in overall immigration to the country which dipped by 22.2 per cent, to 34,015 new permanent residents, in August from 43,180 in July. 

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Despite the latest, monthly slump in spousal sponsorship programs, they still welcomed 45,890 new permanent residents in the first months of this year. 

That’s 32.3 per cent higher, or 11,205 new permanent residents more, than the 34,685 new permanent residents who came under these programs during the comparable period last year. 

Spousal sponsorship programs this year have seen a monthly average of 5,736 new permanent residents welcomed to Canada.

That puts the country on track to receive 68,835 new permanent residents under these programs in 2022 if the current trends continue.

That would be 4,400 new permanent residents, or 6.8 per cent, more than the 64,435 who came under these programs last year. 

And this year’s projected number of new permanent residents would also be 4,060 new permanent residents, or almost 6.3 per cent more, than the 64,775 who came under spousal sponsorship programs in 2019, the last full year before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Immigration To Canada Rebounded After Initial Wave Of Pandemic Health Restrictions Eased

When the pandemic hit in 2020, borders closed to all but essential travel and public health restrictions resulted in travelers needing to get COVID-19 tests before arrival into the country and, at times, also upon arrival and even be quarantined.

Those and other public health restrictions slowed immigration to a crawl in Canada, driving down overall immigration to 184,590 new permanent residents in 2020 from 341,175 in 2019, before the pandemic.

With that drop in overall immigration, the number of new permanent residents to Canada through spousal sponsorships also fell to only 36,120 that year.

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This year, those programs have roared back to life, and the current levels are more in line with the long-term trend in spousal sponsorships in Canada.

Spousal sponsorship programs were already growing in popularity for those hoping to rejoin their loved ones in Canada since 2015 prior to the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number of new permanent residents to Canada under spousal sponsorship programs grew by an impressive 22.7 per cent from the 46,350 in 2015 to 56,885 the following year.

Then, in 2017, overall immigration to Canada faltered somewhat, dropping a tad more than 3.3 per cent from 296,370 to 286,540 new permanent residents.

Long-Term Trend Demonstrates Increasing Popularity Of Spousal Sponsorship Programs

Despite that drop in overall immigration, though, spousal sponsorship programs kept chugging along and the number of immigrants to Canada under those programs nudged up 2.2 per cent in 2017 to hit 58,135 new permanent residents.

The following year, in 2018, overall immigration took off again and spousal sponsorships soared 8.2 per cent to 62,885 new permanent residents.

In 2019, overall immigration grew to a respectable 341,175 new permanent residents to the country and spousal sponsorships again rose by three per cent.

When a Canadian citizen or permanent resident chooses to sponsor a spouse or common-law partner to immigrate to Canada, the sponsor must sign an undertaking, promising to give financial support for the sponsored person’s basic needs, including:

  • food, clothing, shelter and other needs for everyday living, and;
  • dental care, eye care and other health need are not covered by public health services.

This agreement cannot be cancelled, even if:

  • the person sponsored becomes a Canadian citizen;
  • the couple divorces, separates or the relationship breaks down;
  • either the sponsor or the sponsored spouse or common-law partner moves to another province or country, or;
  • the sponsor experiences financial problems.

Maternity, parental and sickness benefits paid under the Employment Insurance Act in Canada are all considered income and contribute to allowing a person to sponsor a spouse or common-law partner but other payments from the government, such as employment insurance and federal training allowances, are not considered income.

Processing Time Of Spousal Sponsorship Applications Now At 22 Months

On its website, IRCC provides estimates of the current processing times for various types of applications, including spousal sponsorships.

According to that website, the current processing time for sponsorship applications for spouses or common-law partners currently outside the country is now down to 22 months, one month less than the estimated wait time in September.

That estimated processing time includes:

  • the time needed to provide biometrics;
  • the assessment of the sponsor and the person being sponsored, and;
  • the time immigration officials need to ensure the sponsor and his or her spouse or common-law partner meet the eligibility requirements.

Twitter users often claim the processing time for their applications has been much longer, up to four years.

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