Spouses and common-law partners sponsored to immigrate to Canada will no longer experience a period of conditional permanent resident status. Instead, they will have full permanent resident status upon landing. The removal of the conditional permanent residence provision was confirmed by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on April 28, 2017.
By eliminating the condition, the Liberal government said that it was addressing concerns that vulnerable sponsored spouses or partners may stay in abusive relationships because they are afraid of losing their permanent resident status, even though an exception to the condition existed for those types of situations. Abuse may be physical, sexual, psychological, and/or financial.
The condition had originally been introduced by the previous Conservative government in October 2012 as a means to deter people from seeking to immigrate to Canada through non-genuine relationships.
While the current government admits that cases of marriage fraud may exist, it also states that ‘the majority of relationships are genuine and most spousal sponsorship applications are made in good faith,’ adding that ‘eliminating conditional permanent residence upholds the Government’s commitment to family reunification and supports gender equality and combating gender violence.’
The elimination of the condition had been expected for some time. In its Forward Regulatory Plan released in October 2016, IRCC stated its intention to ‘[change] those provisions with the objective of addressing concerns that have been identified, such as the vulnerability of sponsored spouses.’
At that time, IRCC stated that ‘On balance, the program integrity benefits of conditional permanent residence have not been shown to outweigh the risks to vulnerable sponsored spouses and partners subject to the two-year cohabitation requirement. The proposed repeal of conditional permanent residence recognizes that the majority of relationships are genuine, and the majority of applications are made in good faith. Eliminating conditional permanent residence would facilitate family reunification, remove the potentially increased vulnerability faced by abused and neglected spouses and partners, and support the Government’s commitment to combating gender-based violence.’