May’s spike in spousal sponsorships softened in June as immigration program set to hit record high

May’s spike in spousal sponsorships softened in June as immigration program set to hit record high
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After spiking in May, spousal sponsorships – which are on track to close the year at or above Ottawa’s upper limit for the immigration program – slipped by 14.6 per cent in June, the latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveals.

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In May, the number of new arrivals to Canada under the spousal sponsorship program had jumped by 45.2 per cent to hit 7,245 new permanent residents that month after dropping for three consecutive months.

Spousal sponsorships up 25 per cent in first six months of 2023

In June, that heady level of spousal sponsorship arrivals settled back down, falling by 1,055 newcomers to 6,190, but was still significantly above the 4,990 new permanent residents to Canada under the program back in April and closer to the 6,975 new arrivals seen in March.

Despite the downturn in June, spousal sponsorships were still up almost 25 per cent for the year by the end of June, hitting 43,755 compared to last year’s performance of 35,010 in the first half of 2022.

The strong start to the spousal sponsorship program this year, if that level of immigration under the program were to continue throughout the rest of the year, would see 87,510 new permanent residents arrive under spousal sponsorships by the end of 2023.

That would be up 36.4 per cent above the number of new permanent residents to arrive in Canada through the spousal sponsorship program last year, 64,145.

It would also be higher than the level set by Ottawa for spousal sponsorships for this year.

In its Immigration Levels Plan 2023 – 2025, Ottawa has already set an upper limit of 84,000 new permanent residents under programs to sponsor spouses, partners and children. The target for this year for that category of immigrants is 78,000 new permanent residents.

Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, saw the greatest number of arrivals under the spousal sponsorship program with 22,690 spouses making it their home in the first six months of this year.

Ontario, British Columbia welcome greatest numbers of spouses under sponsorship program

The other provinces and territories attracted the following number of new permanent residents under the spousal sponsorship program during that period:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador – 90
  • Prince Edward Island – 70
  • Nova Scotia – 490
  • New Brunswick – 290
  • Quebec – 4,835
  • Manitoba – 1,200
  • Saskatchewan – 740
  • Alberta – 5,625
  • British Columbia – 7,640
  • Yukon – 50
  • Northwest Territories – 30
  • Nunavut – 5

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 their needs for everyday living, and;
  • dental care, eye care and other health needs 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.

EI payments considered income for sponsor of spouse

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.

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 and planning to live outside of Quebec is now down to 13 months, a considerable improvement over the 20-month processing time last year.

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.

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