Changes To Canada Family Reunification Immigration Include New Open Work Permits

Canada Spousal Immigration Surged In 2023
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A series of measures have been announced to help Canada’s family reunification immigration and support newcomers as they settle in the country, including the introduction of open work permits for spousal and family class applicants.

The measures announced by Immigration Minister Sean Fraser include faster processing times for temporary resident visas (TRVs) for spousal applicants, dedicated processing tools for spousal TRV applications, as well as the open work permits.

These progressive policies aim to ensure that families can reunite more quickly, while also providing them with the means to support themselves in Canada, the federal government said.

One of the significant developments is the implementation of faster TRV processing times for spousal applicants. Going forward, most of these applications will be processed within 30 days.

These applications will benefit from specialized processing measures tailored to the circumstances of spouses and dependents. This focus on expedited processing has already yielded promising results, with an approval rate of 93 per cent among applicants who have been processed using these new tools.

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Open work permits are now available to spousal applicants and their dependent children who reside with their sponsor in Canada and have temporary resident status. By granting open work permits as soon as a complete permanent residence application is submitted under the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class or other family class programs, Canada aims to provide newcomers with immediate access to the job market.

The government has also extended the validity of open work permits for spousal applicants and other open work permit holders whose permits expire between August 1 and the end of 2023.

This extension offers reassurance to individuals and families who were concerned about the uncertainty surrounding their work permits.

A similar option was recently provided to individuals with expiring post-graduation work permits.

“Family reunification through immigration is not only a matter of compassion; it is a fundamental pillar of Canadian society,” Fraser said.

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In recent years, Canada has made substantial efforts to enhance client services, streamline processes, and accelerate decision-making on immigration applications.

In 2022, over 5.2 million applications were processed across various immigration programs, resulting in millions of people receiving decisions on their cases. As part of these improvements, the service standard for processing new spousal sponsorship applications has been set at 12 months for 80 per cent of cases, excluding Quebec.

While open work permits are available to foreign nationals in different situations, not all individuals will be eligible for an extension.

Eligibility for the extension is limited to categories including permanent residence applicants awaiting a decision, sponsored spouses with valid temporary resident status, spouses or common-law partners of work permit holders, and spouses or common-law partners of study permit holders.

Canada issued over one million work permits and work permit extensions in 2022.

PGWP Extensions Allowed

Canada recently allowed foreign nationals with expired or expiring Post-Graduation Work Permits (PGWP) another 18-month extension.

PGWPs are not usually renewable but, starting Apr. 6, international graduates with one of these permits which expired last year or earlier this year will qualify for an additional or extended work permit to stay longer and gain additional work experience for up to 18 months.

Those with expired work permits will be able to restore their status, even if they are beyond the 90-day restoration period and will receive an interim work authorization while awaiting processing of their new work permit application.

Tens of thousands of international students successfully transition to permanent residence each year, including more than 157,000 in 2021, a record high, and nearly 95,000 in 2022, the second-highest total ever.

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Colin Singer
Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.