On May 26th, 2023, Sean Fraser, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, unveiled a series of enhancements aimed at fortifying family class immigration in Canada. These measures seek to expedite visa processing, introduce dedicated tools, expand work permit opportunities, and extend existing permits. By implementing these changes, the Canadian government aims to reduce processing times, foster family unity, and streamline immigration procedures for families.
Faster Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) Processing
Minister Fraser emphasized the significance of reuniting family members from visa-required countries by allowing them to join their sponsors in Canada. Acknowledging that many applicants were previously refused based on the assumption that they would not return home, Fraser highlighted that the vast majority were ultimately approved for permanent residency. To overcome this, IRCC has reduced the TRV applications backlog for family members who have ongoing permanent residency applications. Under the new approach, spousal TRV applications have achieved an approval rate of over 98%, enabling spouses and their children to be with their families while awaiting the processing of their permanent residency applications.
New Processing Tools and Open Work Permits
In an effort to expedite the reunification process, the IRCC will introduce dedicated processing tools for spousal TRV applicants. This move aims to significantly reduce processing times to within 30 days, allowing family members to join their loved ones in Canada more quickly.
Moreover, the IRCC is launching an initiative that grants open work permits to spousal applicants and their dependent children who reside with their sponsors in Canada and hold temporary resident status. Previously limited to the inland spousal program, open work permits will now be available to applicants applying from outside Canada as well. This opportunity will enable spouses, partners, and dependents to work while their permanent residence applications under the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class (SPCLC) or other family class programs are being processed.
Extensions for Open Work Permit Holders
With effect from June 7, people with expiring open work permits between August 1st and the end of 2023 will have an option of an additional 18 months extension. The extension process will be facilitated and provided free of charge. It is anticipated that this extension will benefit over 25000 individuals residing in Canada.
The Significance of Family Class Sponsorship
Family class sponsorship constitutes the second largest category within Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan. For 2023, Canada aims to welcome 106,500 newcomers under the family class category, with 78,000 falling under the spouses, partners, and children category, and 28,500 under the parents and grandparents category. By 2025, the goal is to further increase family-class immigration to 118,000 newcomers.
Canadian citizens and permanent residency status holders can sponsor a person if they meet the eligibility criteria set by the IRCC. To qualify as a sponsor, an individual must be at least 18 years, not be imprisoned or bankrupt, not be under a removal order, and should not have sponsored a spouse within the last five years.
Spouses, common law and conjugal partners, children, parents, and grandparents are all eligible for sponsorship if they meet the necessary requirements. The recent measures announced by Minister Sean Fraser mark a significant step toward strengthening family-class immigration in Canada. With faster processing times, dedicated tools expanded work permit opportunities, and extensions for existing permits, the government aims to facilitate family reunification and enhance the overall immigration experience for families. These measures will not only contribute to the growth and diversity of Canada but also ensure that families can be together while awaiting the finalization of their permanent residency applications.