By
Pace Law

Spousal Sponsorship System Failing Quebec City Family

January 3, 2015

Klaudios Mustakas – Senior Immigration Advisor: This recent story in the press highlights the problems that need to be fixed in the Canadian spousal sponsorship system:

Canadians, including an Oshawa couple, caught up in Ottawa’s backlog in processing in-country spousal sponsorships are calling for an audit of the troubled program.

Processing times have tripled recently. Thousands of Canadians are now having to wait more than two years to acquire permanent resident status for their foreign spouses already living in Canada. That means living in limbo for the foreign partner, including not being allowed to take a job or access health-care coverage…

Jean-François Fortin, of Quebec City, sponsored his Peruvian wife, Silvia Dominguez, a microbiologist, last February after the two met in graduate school in Rutgers University in 2006 and later worked in California and Geneva. They have a three-year-old son born in the United States.

“If I had not been a Canadian, my wife would have got her work permit in a month from Paris. Now her career is stalled. It is really frustrating,” said Mr. Fortin, who teaches physics in a university.

“We planned to have another child. She is pregnant now but she is not covered by (provincial) health care. Her private insurance plan doesn’t cover pregnancy … Immigration is the worst place to be. It’s like a black box. You can’t get any answer and have no clue what’s happening.”

Unfortunately, this is typical in Canadian spousal sponsorship cases. Put your application in and wait 24 to 26 months before you get your Permanent Resident status. In the meantime, you cannot work, and your access to health care is limited.

Why does it take so long to clear these cases? Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will tell you that they want to weed out fraudulent marriages. The reality, however, is that CIC does not conduct any outside investigations to find marriages of convenience. In fact, they are not mandated to conduct any physical investigations whatsoever. Any suspicion of fraud will be referred to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). It’s impossible to know when or if a particular spousal investigation will be conducted.
It’s tough to blame CBSA for putting spousal cases low on the list. Would you rather CBSA concentrate on catching drug smugglers, terrorists and other people who are a threat to Canadian society, or do you want them conducting bed checks?
CIC does issue two-year conditional permanent resident visas. This gives them two years after the individual is landed to discover if the marriage is bogus. But look at the story above. The Quebec City man with the wife he met at Rutgers is 2006 has been cooling his heels for almost a year. CIC could take another full year or more to clear the case. His wife Sylvia’s career has stalled because she cannot work and therefore cannot pay taxes, nor can she receive medical coverage for her pregnancy. Meanwhile, according to CIC’s own figures, a similar case would be resolved in Hong Kong in 7 months.
The spousal system is deeply unfair to Canadians. It’s worth keeping it in the headlines until changes are made.
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