Here at North Star Immigration Law, we have a Department of Love. This is the group of lawyers (and one fabulous paralegal) who work on all the family class files. You know: the long distance relationships that turn into love and marriage and baby (and sometimes – no kidding – puppy) carriages.

In December, IRCC announced it was going to simplify the spousal sponsorship process, so I asked the Love Department for some thoughts about the new process.

The new process requires two additional steps that will be initiated by IRCC:

  1. Schedule A Background Application Form (you cannot submit the form until requested – you cannot even access it now) and police certificates will be requested;
  2. The immigration medical will be requested (you cannot request an upfront medical now)

In the former process, the above documentation could have been provided upfront and it made it more efficient. For example, it was helpful to complete an upfront medical if you qualify for an expedited work permit, so you can work in healthcare or childcare, or in any type of job at a hospital or school.  We are not sure how that can be done now, unless the medical instruction arrives at least a month before the open work permit.

The document checklist is lengthier and will still be confusing for most applicants. For example, the sponsorship and relationship evaluation is much lengthier and more detailed than the two forms it replaced in the inland process.

The documents required to prove cohabitation (required for spouses and common law partners) are very specific and may not apply in all cohabitation circumstances. Now you must provide specific documents from several different lists: e.g. two of the following three types of documents:

  • shared lease/mortgage
  • shared utilities
  • proof of shared address with government-issued ID, insurance policies and other important government documentation

On a positive note, the new checklist intends to provide more guidance on exactly what category you wish to apply in (Spouse in Canada, or Family Class outside Canada), and which documents to provide (e.g. for dependent children who require proof of citizenship, or for previous relationships)

However, it is not intuitive that making additional requests for information will actually result in faster processing. It should be an option to submit everything at the outset if you have it.

From looking at the checklist it seems like in an effort to clarify what exactly IRCC is looking for in different situations, they are making the requirements more rigid and forcing relationships to fit into defined boxes This is probably just illustrative of the inherent challenges in trying to find objective criteria to assess something as subjective as a relationship.

So this an interesting change in terms of effort if not execution. As they say, love isn’t always perfect.

To end on a musical note which seems apropos of the new immigration rules and the new world order in general:

This thing could go two ways

Won’t be another exit for days

So pack a small suitcase

Anything else can be easily replaced *

*The New Pornographers, High Ticket Attraction