More spousal sponsorships will be processed in 2017, and faster, too.
Earlier this year, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) began a concerted effort to reduce processing times, which have increased due to increased demand: in 2015 alone, nearly 70,000 applicants applied through spousal sponsorship but there was only space for 48,000 people to be admitted to Canada that year. This led to a longer wait for applicants and processing times increased. At the start of 2016, processing times were an average of 26 months for in-Canada applications, and 18 months for applications made outside Canada.
Improvements have already been made to these long waits: from the start of 2016 to the fall, processing times were reduced by 15 per cent for in-Canada applications and just over 10 per cent for applications outside Canada.
“We have listened to Canadians and are delivering results. Bringing families together makes for a stronger Canada. Canadians who marry someone from abroad shouldn’t have to wait for years to have them immigrate or be left with uncertainty in terms of their ability to stay,” says John McCallum, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship. “What we’re announcing is a more efficient, more considerate process to reunite families.”
To keep improving processing times, IRCC will not only increase the levels of sponsorships in 2017 to 64,000 spouses and dependants in 2017, but is also targeting to process applications in 12 months. In addition, IRCC has simplified the application kit. Available on Dec. 15, 2016, the new kit is easier to use and understand. There will also now be only one kit, regardless if you are applying from within or outside Canada.
Since some applicants may have already started filling out their application using the current kit, IRCC will continue to accept new applications using the current kit only until Jan. 31, 2017. After this date, only applications using the new kit will be accepted.
To help clients through the application process, a brand new “Basic Guide” has been developed, which summarizes the applications process and gives clients a clear explanation of what they need to do to apply.
Immigration officials said they hoped to clear all existing applications by the end of 2017 with the expanded quota, additional staffing resources and a streamlined process, according to the Toronto Star.
Despite the streamlined process, officials said full criminal, security and medical screening will continue to be in place.