With a huge spotlight on Spousal Sponsorship Processing time, we have seen major changes to the laws pertaining the Program and the reason for longer processing time is that there is a Cap on Spousal Sponsorship Application. Read on.
Currently, sponsoring a spouse or common-law partner can take years of waiting in sponsorship limbo. Couples have to deal with uncertain futures and in some cases, are forced to live off a single income for significant periods of time.
Processing times have always been changing. As seen over the last few years, the change has not been for the better. Since 2013, the wait times have doubled and then tripled.
As of May 7th, 2016, according to the government of Canada's website, the processing time for sponsoring someone who lives inside of Canada with their sponsor is 26 months. For spouses who live outside of Canada, the processing times depend on what country they live in. Some visa offices post processing times of less than a year – Algeria, Brazil and Tunisia are the quickest, at 8 months. At the other end of the spectrum is Pakistan at 28 months, Thailand at 29 months, and St. Vincent at an incredible 41 months. Surprisingly, for the USA, our closest neighbour, the processing time is 15 months.
Canadian spousal sponsorship wait times are absurd if we look at other countries.
|United States||Upto 1 year|
|Australia||No More than 8 Months|
|United Kingdom||Few Monthts
How you ask ? They have Marriage Visa
Naturally, Canadians with foreign spouses are upset. They feel like they are being punished for falling in love with someone non-Canadian. Processing Times have increased and there has been a lot of noises in Media (Paper and Social) about it.
Processing Times Are Due to the Cap on Spousal Sponsorships – But Why Do We Need a Cap?
The situation wasn’t always this bad. As Lawyer Ronalee Carey explained in a blog post, prior to 2013 the Canadian government permitted more of its immigrants to be from the family class as opposed to economic classes. Changing the balance meant slower processing times for family class applications. Immigration offices process applications at a rate that allows them to meet their numbers for the year – there’s no point in processing them more quickly if there is a finite number you are permitted to process in a calendar year.
But why do spousal sponsorships have to come under the caps for immigration? It is the Government who sets the caps. Therefore, it also has ability to change this way of dealing with spousal sponsorships.
Just like we don’t control the birthrate in Canada, we can’t control how many people decide to enter into relationships with non-Canadians. We give automatic citizenship to babies born here (or abroad to a first generation Canadian). Likewise, the government could take out nuclear family members from the rest of the immigration pool. With our declining birthrate, we should want those non-Canadian spouses here ASAP, because the longer we leave them in limbo, the longer they are delaying starting families. Moreover, the faster they start working as permanent residents, the sooner they can contribute to our economy through taxes.
These Canadian spouses and dependent children need very little in terms of settlement support. They can’t go on welfare, because their spouse or parent is obligated to financially support them for years. They are unlike economic immigrants who need orientation when they arrive in Canada as they have a built-in support system. And they can’t be compared at all to refugees, most whom need years of financial assistance and substantial settlement support. Accepting economic immigrants and refugees requires budgetary planning, I understand this. But the budgetary planning argument just doesn’t work for spouses and dependent children.
I also understand that processing is limited by the number of staff available to do the processing. However, staffing can be unlimited since the salaries of those public servants come from processing fees paid by the applicant. Just hire more people!
The currently outrageous processing times are determined by the cap on family class applications. Based on the cap, immigration offices are told to process a certain number of cases per quarter. Therefore, no cap would mean less processing time, a more efficient system, and happier Canadians.
Our Current Government and the Future of Spousal Sponsorships
When the 2016 immigration levels plan was announced in March, there was good news for Canadians who were waiting for their spouse or dependent child sponsorship applications to be processed. The government plans to process 57,000 to 62,000 individuals for entry to Canada from this category. This is quite an increase from the 45,389 people admitted under this category in 2014. We don’t yet have the numbers for 2015, but the goal for that year was 45,000 to 48,000.
In the 2016 Budget released in March, the government made an explicit commitment to reduce application processing times for family sponsorships. Specifically, they dedicated $25 million solely to reducing processing times.
At the Canadian Immigration Conference held in Vancouver a few weeks ago, where I was in attendance, John McCallum, our current Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship even announced that he is "ashamed that the heavy hand of the Canadian state keeps families apart for two years."
All the right intentions seem to be there to reduce processing times for sponsorship applications. Still, no concrete plans have been implemented to end the capping of spousal sponsorships. Although the government is now once again providing country-specific processing times for outside-of-Canada sponsorships, the actual processing times have not changed significantly.