Spousal Sponsorship to Canada: Possible New Language Requirements Go Too Far

By Andy Semotiuk | March 24, 2014

toronto immigration lawyer Andy Semotiuk

Canadian and US Immigration Lawyer Andy Semotiuk: This story in the Toronto Starcaught my eye:

The federal government is considering imposing language and education requirements on people whose husbands or wives want to sponsor them as immigrants, the Star has learned.

The notion, which community representatives say Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has floated in a series of consultations since January, has raised instant alarm.

Some attending the consultation say the possible change is aimed at better protecting and integrating immigrant women. But critics fear it would prevent many overseas spouses, particularly those from the developing world who haven’t learned English or French, from ever qualifying for family reunification.

The government is also considering requiring Canadian sponsors to reach a minimum income level to be eligible to bring in a wife, husband or children from abroad, critics say.

This initiative is an example of how the Canadian government has gone completely overboard in the application of the Official Languages Act. As a tool for sifting through immigrant applications to decide which should or should not be approved, it goes too far. Why not simply limit Canadian immigration to those countries whose populations are English or French speaking and be done with it?​ What possible harm does a spouse who may not speak English or French when arriving in Canada do to our country?

As for stiffening the financial requirements of sponsors seeking to bring their spouses to Canada, the current policy in this area is doing just fine and needs no improvement.Spousal sponsorship rules may need improvements, but definitely not in the directions being considered. If the government is concerned about the economic issues, then let it immediately issue a work permit to a newly arrived spouse to Canada so they can begin earning money – and paying taxes.

As for the language issue, what needs to be considered is the interests of the sponsor and the national interest of keeping families together – not finding more ways of blocking their applications. Spouses will learn English or French soon enough after their arrival to Canada – we need not burden families with that obstacle in advance.