Changes to Spousal Sponsorship to address the vulnerability of women in the immigration context

Description of the objective

Description of the objective: The Government of Canada has made it a priority to address the vulnerability of women in the immigration context. In the October 2013 Speech from the Throne, the Government announced it would take steps to ensure that women and girls would no longer be “brutalized by violence, including through the inhumane practice of early and forced marriage” on Canadian soil. In keeping with these objectives, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is proposing the following suite of regulatory amendments as part of the Government of Canada’s efforts to address the vulnerability of immigrant women and to ensure the integrity of Canada’s spousal sponsorship system. The proposed amendments seek to:

  1. Raise from 16 to 18 the minimum age of eligibility to immigrate to Canada as an accompanying spouse or partner, or to be sponsored as a spouse or partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. This would apply to all temporary and permanent immigration programs.
  2. No longer recognize marriages that were conducted by proxy, telephone, fax, Internet or other similar forms (i.e. marriages where one or both parties are not physically present at the marriage), across all permanent and temporary immigration programs. An exemption would be made for active members of the Canadian Armed Forces who, due to travel restrictions related to their service, were not present at their marriage, where that marriage was conducted and registered in a foreign jurisdiction where it is legally valid.
  3. Address an unintended consequence of amendments made to paragraph 130(3)(b) of the IRPR in 2011 that resulted in certain Canadian citizens, who were themselves sponsored as spouses, becoming ineligible to sponsor a subsequent spouse or partner.

Enabling Act: Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Indication of business impacts

There are no expected business impacts.

Public consultation opportunities

In the October 2013 Speech from the Throne and subsequent public statements, the Government of Canada and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration signalled their intention to implement legislative, regulatory, and administrative measures to ensure forced marriages do not occur on Canadian soil. In early 2014, the Minister of CIC held five consultative roundtables across Canada on violence against women in the immigration context. These discussions helped to inform the proposals outlined above. A subsequent Private Members Bill to ban proxy, telephone and fax marriages was passed on December 10, 2014.

Additional comments from stakeholders are invited in the 30 days following prepublication of these draft regulations in the Canada Gazette.

Departmental contact

Justine Akman
Director, Social Policy and Programs Division
Immigration Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
365 Laurier Avenue W, 8th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1

Date Modified: