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Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

IRCC keeping families together

by Michael Scott

One of the objectives of the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Act is to keep families together. IRPA s.3(1) states, “the objectives of this Act with respect to immigration are…(d) to see that families are reunited in Canada.”

It may seem to many failed sponsors and applicants that the immigration laws are intended to keep families apart, but the reality is something quite different. If you or your loved ones are in a processing queue, then you are that much further than those whose submissions were returned or refused. When you are too close to the matter it seems that the law is working against you and not in your interests.

The negative perception is something that the current minister, Sean Fraser, has been addressing over the past few months. In a ministerial statement dated May 26, 2023, Minister Fraser addressed a number of issues that many may be unaware of, including changes in processing, a new open work permit for spousal and family stream applicants, and open work permit extensions for work permit holders whose permits are set to expire between August 1, and the end of the year. Before you condemn the governing Liberal party, or it’s appointed minister, the changes are something to examine.

Minister Fraser spoke in positive terms of improving the processing times for temporary resident visa (TRV) applicants. The families are anxious to bring members into Canada for a variety of reasons – to attend marriages, funerals, sick relatives, or just to bond with family members who are living in the country. It is not surprising that family members want to reunite but it is surprising, for some, that government officials are working to that end. As a retired federal and provincial immigration officer, I can assure the readers that Minister Fraser is not alone in his efforts to make things work better for foreign nationals and Canadian hosts.

Minister Fraser has set the following standards for IRCC to deliver to program users: most TRVs will be processed in 30 days; spouses, partners, and dependents will be able to apply for an open work permit as soon as they submit an application for permanent residence inside Canada or under the in Canada class (SPCLC). This process appears to be a reworking of an existing measure for in-Canada applications, but the steps have been refined under the current requirement to submit all applications, including family class, online.

Minister Fraser announced that spousal and partner applicants, along with other open work permit holders, whose permits are set to expire between August 1 and the end of 2023 will be able to extend their permits by an additional 18 months. A similar option was recently offered to many foreign student graduates with expired post-graduate work permits. Yes, to the nay sayers, the department actually identified the students in question and encouraged them to apply for the extensions. IRCC is not only promising changes but is also participating in making them happen.

Immigration continues to be important for Canada’s future and our recovery from the global pandemic. Family reunification is an important pathway to attract more applicants and their spouses, partners, children, and other dependents to the country. Minister Fraser can speak proudly of the efforts of his department to attract and retain newcomers by a number of changes including the bringing together of families. I have seen evidence of the improvement in departmental services and commend the government on their efforts to improve processing times, outcomes and decrease backlogs. The work is being done and we should pay respectful attention to the words of Minister Fraser in his press release.

“Family reunification through immigration is not only a matter of compassion; it is a fundamental pillar of Canadian society. Today’s announcement is a mandate commitment to help build inclusive and resilient communities. We are supporting Canadians and newcomers by reuniting families faster, and also allowing them to work and support themselves more quickly once they’re here. By doing so, Canada is helping newcomers achieve their true potential, while also strengthening Canada’s economy and social fabric.”

The early signs support the Minister’s optimism, and we should be more aware of the improvements and changes as they occur.

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: