A pilot program allowing undeclared family members to be sponsored for Canada immigration has been extended.
The program came into effect on September 9, 2019, in order to address the concerns expressed by stakeholders and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, pertaining to a lifetime bar on those foreign nationals excluded under IRPR’s aforementioned statutes.
When an individual applies to become a permanent resident, all of their family members (spouse, common-law partner, dependent children, dependent child of a dependent child) need to be declared, even if they are not accompanying the principal applicant to Canada.
In most cases, said family members also need to be examined, so that the department officials have all relevant information to make a decision on a permanent residence application and ensure that these family members would not make the principal applicant ineligible and inadmissible.
Under IRPR, failing to have a non-accompanying family member examined as such may result in a lifetime bar on being able to sponsor that member, as per paragraphs 117(9)(d) and 125(1)(d) of the Regulations. These regulations were emplaced to encourage complete disclosure by immigration applicants, to enhance the overall integrity of Family Class immigration, to “protect the health, safety, and security of Canadians,” as per the IRCC website.
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After the implementation of the 2019 pilot project, a subsequent public policy was issued in September 2021 for two years due to the unprecedented circumstances and challenges created by COVID-19.
The policy was set to expire on September 9, 2023, but the department had pre-empted that to allow for continued facilitation and “further monitoring of these cases,” IRCC would be implementing a consecutive public policy to come into effect when the current one expires.
“The consecutive public policy will allow the Department to gather fulsome data on the population utilizing this public policy to consider potential amendments to immigration legislation, while ensuring the same benefits to clients,” IRCC wrote in an older posting on its website.
As promised, the Minister signed the consecutive public policy and is in effect since September 10, 2023, to September 10, 2026. Applications pending on the day this public policy was implemented will be processed according to this public policy.
Family Class instructions relating to this public policy have been updated and reflect the new dates in terms of which applications are to be processed under this public policy.
The temporary public policy applies to all of the following applications:
- applications still in process on May 31, 2019 (no final decision made before that date)
- applications received between May 31, 2019, and September 10, 2026
- applications pending reconsideration between May 31, 2019, and September 10, 2026
All of the following requirements must be met for the public policy to apply and to exempt applicants from the paragraph R117(9)(d) or R125(1)(d) exclusion:
- The foreign national has applied as either:
- a spouse or a common-law partner under the SCLPC class
- a spouse, a common-law partner, conjugal partner or a dependent child under the family class
- The sponsor was granted permanent residence status in Canada as any of the following:
- a resettled refugee (such as a Convention refugee or a person in similar circumstances, or an applicant under the country of asylum class)
- a protected person
- a sponsored spouse, a common-law partner, a conjugal partner or a dependent child under the family class
- a sponsored spouse or a common-law partner under the SCLPC class
- The foreign national, if declared and examined at the time their sponsor immigrated to Canada, would not have made their sponsor ineligible in the class under which the sponsor applied and was granted permanent residence.
Dependent children have to be defined as such per the lock-in date policy. For family class applications, the age lock-in date is the date their application for permanent residence is received by the department.
For applicants whose sponsor resides in the province of Quebec, the sponsorship undertaking must be approved by the Government of Quebec’s Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI).
Where Does the Public Policy Not Apply?
- If the applicant is already exempt from the paragraph R117(9)(d) or R125(1)(d) exclusion as a result of the exception in subsection R117(10) or R125(2), where an officer has determined that under IRPA, or the former Act, the foreign national did not need to be examined.
- The public policy also does not apply if the sponsor was granted permanent residence status under any other immigration category not specified by the public policy. This includes:
- any of the economic classes
- other members of the family class (such as parents and grandparents and their dependent children, orphaned relatives and other relatives)
- permit holder class
- permanent residence from within Canada based on humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds
- If the foreign national, if declared and examined at the time their sponsor immigrated to Canada, would have made their sponsor ineligible in the class under which the sponsor applied. For example, if the sponsor
- Immigrated as a spouse, but was married to the current applicant when the sponsor gained permanent residence status (that is, was in a bigamous or polygamous relationship)
- Immigrated as a dependent child of a principal applicant (including one in a refugee category) or as a dependent child under the Family Class, but did not declare their spouse or common-law partner, so that they could be considered as a dependent child
- Would have had to meet financial requirements under the Family Class or the SCLPC class if the dependent children of a sponsored dependent child were disclosed
- Come to Canada through a program that required them to have no dependents
Family members of a sponsor who came to Canada as privately sponsored refugees should not be excluded from this public policy on the basis that the existence of this family member would have meant that their sponsors would have had to meet higher financial requirements.
Assessing the Sponsor of Family Class or Spouse or Common-law Partner in Canada (SCLPC) Class Applications
As per the IRCC website on the update, “if the case processing centre officer notices that an applicant may be excluded pursuant to paragraph R117(9)(d) or R125(1)(d), when completing the assessment of the sponsor for family class or SCLPC class applications, they should add a note in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) so that the responsible office processing the permanent residence application will be aware.”
Canada Plans to Bring in More Than 100,000 Family Class Applicants Every Year Between 2023-2025
The immigration levels plan details that Ottawa is aiming for 106,500 family class immigrants in 2023, 114,000 in 2024, and 118,000 in 2025.
Of these, a majority (close to 80,000 each year) would be under the Spouses, Partners, and Children category.
28,500 in 2023, 34,000 in 2024, and 36,000 in 2025 would be under the Parents and Grandparents category.
Family Class Intended to Re-Unite Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents with Close Family Members
The sponsor promises – via their undertaking to support sponsored members of the family class – that for a specified duration, they will provide for the basic needs of their family members so they do not have to rely on social assistance.
Those applications that involve spouses, common-law or conjugal partners and dependent children are prioritized.
Those involving adopted children, children to be adopted, and orphans are also prioritized, as they often involve minors without parental care.
No processing priorities exist for other members of the Family Class.
All family class applications for PR are submitted at the same time as the sponsorship application to a Case Processing Centre (CPC) in Canada.