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Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

The sponsorship of spouses and partners

A perspective on processing times

by Michael Scott

The question of back logs and files pending continue to occupy the attention of many. It is difficult for sponsors and applicants alike to be waiting for the process to end. No, the immigration authorities are not ignoring the submissions, nor do they derive any pleasure from making you wait.

There are good reasons for the delays that have affected all immigration submissions – including the long recovery from the pandemic, the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine with the slaughter of untold thousands of innocent civilians and the displacement of millions. We are fortunate not to be in the line of fire and lead our lives in relative safety.

It is important that all concerned understand that the increased wait time is not the same as being in the war zone and under threat of death. There is no true equivalence between waiting for a visa and waiting for death. Canada does respect international law and promises made to help those in dire need of humanitarian assistance. This is part of our past and our present.

Let us consider for one moment the good things that immigration brings. Last year, for example, saw the landing of over 400,000 newcomers for only the second time since 1913. Immigration authorities are working at matching that number this operational year. The bulk of arrivals, or 62 per cent came under economic immigration with 252,975 arrivals. This contrasts with family class immigration at 20 per cent of the total or 80,990 arrivals. The family class was projected at 26 per cent of the total, slightly under the targeted numbers. However, in terms of origins of arrivals, the Philippines was third at 4.3 per cent of the total, after China at 8 per cent, and far from India, which led all world areas with 32 per cent.

The Philippines was also one of the leading source countries for the sponsorship of spouses and partners. Last year, Canadians sponsored 10,715 loved ones from India, 4,810 from the United States, and 4,805 from the Philippines. The numbers from the Philippines were slightly higher than China with 4,265. The country is still well represented in the 2021 numbers and the current immigration processing for 2022.

The sponsorship of spouses and partners includes spouses, common-law partners, and also conjugal partners. There is no assignment of live-in partners from the Philippines, which is often considered equivalent to common-law based upon cohabitation in a conjugal (husband and wife-like) relationship between two persons. There is no time requirement for marriages, but common-law relationships require one year of continuous cohabitation. Conjugal couples require one year of a continuous husband and wife-like relationship for persons separated by distance and with some barrier preventing the parties from living together. Canada does not require parties to marry in order to be sponsored but there is no option for conjugal sponsorship for parties inside Canada, where there is no physical barrier preventing them from living together.

Canada has a responsibility to ensure that all sponsorships are bona fide and not just marriages or relationships of convenience, arranged as a way to getting into the country. The authorities must determine if the relationship is true, whether the sponsor is eligible and the applicant is admissible. Some of the cases are not simple and are subject to additional checks and investigations, and this leads to delays. In real terms, I remember one case where the Canadian sponsor complained that she had been waiting for well over one year (before the current back logs) and asked me what that meant. I asked her if there was something her husband was not telling her, and the answer turned out to be yes. The immigration authorities in Manila asked him for a second NBI police clearance under a different spelling of his family name. The applicant had neglected to tell his wife, his immigration representative, and IRCC that he had an active estafa case in the Philippines. He conveniently forgot that he owed over 150,000 pesos to a third party. This is an example of criminal inadmissibility and it mattered in this case. It could have explained the long delay.

It is important for all concerned to understand that false submissions and incomplete applications do not speed things up but cause delays. It is important to take extra time and ensure that the submission is correct and true. If not, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: