In Spousal Sponsorships

Processing times are plummeting!

One of the mandates of the Immigration Minister, John McCallum, was to expedite spousal processing times in 2016 – and he has certainly lived up to his promise.

Several years ago, processing times for spousal applications worldwide were taking between 18 to 48 or even 60 months depending upon the nationality of the individual. Routinely African and South Asian cases of foreign national spouses were taking 36 months or more.

Processing times still differ depending whether the application is being filed from outside of Canada or from within Canada. Those individuals who normally require visitor visas to come to Canada and who have not been able to get a visitor visa, are forced to use the outside of Canada process which is now being processed in about one year.

We are finding even faster processing times for foreign nationals who can come and go to and from Canada without a visa. These are typically citizens from the United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Such applications are being finalized between 6 and12 months after the application has been filed.

For those foreign nationals who are in Canada already on temporary status (such as a visitor or student) the inside Canada spousal process will assure them that they can also apply for a work permit immediately upon filing the sponsorship and permanent application. In the past, such inside Canada applicants had to remain here on extended visitor status without any social benefits and without the ability to work. Those applications would sometimes take two years or more to finalize. Now if the foreign national is in Canada on a visitor permit, the sponsorship application can be filed along with the change of status from a visitor to a work permit holder. Medical benefits and social insurance status are granted to the individual within four months. The permanent residence application will still take upwards to 18 months to finalize, but individuals can lead a normal life while waiting for permanent status to come through. This latter procedure was initiated in December 2014 as a pilot project and will no doubt be extended again in late November or early December 2016.

For detailed flow charts of the two processes (inside Canada and outside of Canada), see my website at

An Associate of

Crease Harman LLP