James Metcalfe - Director of ImmigrationJim Metcalfe – Director of Immigration: The Canadian government has announced a plan to reduce the backlog of existing sponsor applications and speed up processing times for spousal sponsorship and family sponsorship cases. They have also said that they will increase the number of sponsored persons allowed into Canada:

As part of its commitment to family reunification, the Government of Canada will grant permanent residence to more spouses, partners and dependent children of Canadian citizens and permanent residents this year. This will significantly reduce the backlog of existing applications and speed up processing times going forward.

Each year, the Government sets how many permanent residents Canada intends to admit through its various immigration categories during the year. This is done with the annual immigration levels plan. The plan for 2016 reflects the Government’s key priorities for immigration, which include bringing more families together. This year, the Government increased the number of spaces allowed for spouses, partners and dependent children by 14 000, bringing it up to 62 000 spaces.

Spousal Sponsorship Delays

While the above announcement is an admirable response to a festering situation, it is short on details. For example, is there a target in number of days or months for the completion of files? In the past there was an optimistic target of 6 months for spousal cases. This target then stretched to 12 months. Then reality really set in and there was no target at all.

Geography also plays a part. We had a recent spousal case in the US processed in less than 5 months. A similar case in the UK took only a few weeks longer. Cases from Asia, on the other hand, can take over 2 to 3 years.

The new plan is good, but it’s too short on specifics. I fear it will face the same demise as previous efforts. What people need is a clear statement in terms of days, weeks and months, and the Minister should publish regular processing times for each country. If the government meets these targets and the goalposts don’t get further away as time goes on, I will be suitably impressed.

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