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  • Stephen Smith, Eman Katem

IRCC says 80% of spousal sponsorship backlog now cleared

The Government of Canada announced today that it has now cleared 80 per cent of its spousal sponsorship backlog.

Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, made the announcement as part of a special Valentine’s Day update.

Hussen said the achievement delivers on a government promise made in December 2016 to reduce the backlog by 80 per cent within a year.

“Just a year ago, in December 2016, there were almost 75,000 people in the spousal sponsorship backlog,” Hussen said. “As of today, more than 80 per cent of those spouses in the backlog have received final decisions in their applications.”

The backlog now stands at 15,000 individuals, he said.

“Moving to a new country can be a difficult process, especially when it comes to spouses and partners who are separated by time and distance,” Hussen said. “Canadians with a partner or spouse who is abroad shouldn’t have to wait for years to have them immigrate to Canada. Nor should those in the country be left uncertain as to whether they will be allowed to stay in Canada.”

To those whose applications are still being processed, Hussen said the government “is working diligently to process your files.”

Changes to application process

Hussen also announced a revision to the spouse and common-law partner sponsorship guide and checklist. Under the change, spousal sponsorship applicants will now be asked to submit their Schedule A – Background/Declaration (IMM 5669) form and police certificates as part of their initial paper application package, instead of later in the application process, as was previously required.

“These changes will help us process applications even faster and avoid unnecessary delays,” Hussen said.

Canada’s Liberal government has made family reunification an immigration priority and has introduced a number of policy changes to this end, including its promise to process the majority of spousal sponsorship applications within 12 months from the day they are received.

Prior to its December 2016 changes the average processing time for spouses/common-law partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents in Canada was as long as 26 months.

The federal government also introduced a new spousal sponsorship application kit in December 2016 that it said was designed to streamline and simplify the process.

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