Spousal Sponsorship Bar on Violent Spouses

In April the Gazette announced that a sponsorship bar would soon come into effect prohibiting individuals that have been convicted of certain offenses from sponsoring family members.  One of the offenses that would result in a bar was violence against someone that the wannabe sponsor had dated, which seemed a little vague.  Now that the sponsorship bar has come into effect, and Citizenship and Immigration Canada has released a detailed Operational Bulletin on the matter, lets see if the if the new rule is a little clearer.

The Operational Bulletin starts by noting the gap in the law exposed by the Brar (2008 FC 1285) decision, where the Federal Court found that an individual who had murdered his brother’s wife was allowed to sponsor his own wife, as the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations did not specifically bar an individual who had killed a sister-in-law from sponsoring another family member.

Under the new Regulations, subject to certain exceptions, anyone convicted of an indictable offense involving the use of violence punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years or an attempt to commit such an offense will be barred from sponsorship.

As well, subject to certain exceptions, anyone convicted of an offense that results in bodily harm to any of the following persons, or an attempt to commit such an offense against any of the following persons, will be barred from sponsorship:

  • a) a current or former family member of the sponsor,
  • b) a relative of the sponsor, as well as a current or former family member of that relative,
  • c) a relative of the family member of the sponsor, or a current or former family member of that relative,
  • d) a current or former conjugal partner of the sponsor,
  • e) a current or former family member of a family member or conjugal partner of the sponsor,
  • f) a relative of the conjugal partner of the sponsor, or a current or former family member of that relative,
  • g) a child under the current or former care and control of the sponsor, their current or former family member or conjugal partner,
  • h) a child under the current or former care and control of a relative of the sponsor or a current or former family member of that relative, or
  • i) someone the sponsor is dating or has dated, whether or not they have lived together, or a family member of that person.

CIC has produced the following helpful charts to explain what the above means.

Amended Provision Examples of Relationships
a. current or former family member of the sponsor;
  • the spouse or common-law partner of the sponsor and their children
  • the ex-spouse or common-law partner of the sponsor and their children
  • the children of the sponsor
b. a relative of the sponsor, as well as a current or former family member of that relative;
  • the parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle, cousin of the sponsor
  • the spouse or common-law partner and children of the parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle, cousin of the sponsor
  • the ex-spouse or ex-common-law partner (and their children) of the parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle, cousin of the sponsor
c. a relative of the family member of the sponsor, or a current or former family member of that relative;
  • the parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle, cousin of the sponsor’s spouse/common-law partner or children
  • the spouse or common-law partner and children of the parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle, cousin of the sponsor’s spouse/common-law partner or children
  • the ex-spouse or ex-common-law partner (and their children) of the parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle, cousin of the sponsor’s spouse/common-law partner or children
d. a current or former conjugal partner of the sponsor;
  • the conjugal partner of the sponsor
  • the ex-conjugal partner of the sponsor
e. a current or former family member of a family member or conjugal partner of the sponsor;
  • the spouse or common-law partner or children of the sponsor’s child
  • the ex-spouse or common-law partner and children of the sponsor’s spouse, partner or child
f. a relative of a conjugal partner of the sponsor, or a current or former family member of that relative;
  • the parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle, cousin of the sponsor’s conjugal partner
  • the spouse/common-law partner (and their children)of the, parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle, cousin of the sponsor’s conjugal partner
  • the ex-spouse/common-law partner (and their children) of the parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle, cousin of the sponsor’s conjugal partner
g. a child under the current or former care and control of the sponsor, their current or former family member or conjugal partner;
  • a foster child who is or was cared for by the sponsor, their spouse/partner, ex-spouse/partner or children
h. a child under the current or former care and control of a relative of the sponsor or a current or former family member or conjugal partner of that relative; or
  • a foster child who is or was cared for by the parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, aunt/uncle or cousin of the sponsor a foster child who is or was cared for by the spouse/partner or ex-spouse/partner (and their children) of the parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, aunt/uncle or cousin of the sponsor
i. someone the sponsor is dating or has dated, whether or not they have lived together, or a family member of that person.
  • current or ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, their spouse or common-law partner and their dependent children

Of course, what is a “boyfriend/girlfriend” is unclear, and I cannot wait for the litigation to begin on this issue.

The List of Offenses

Below is a non-exhaustive list of Criminal Code offences that carry a maximum sentence of 10 years and would be captured by this bar if they involved violence:

Section Criminal Code Offence
76 Hijacking
81 Using explosives
85 Use of a firearm or imitation during commission of offence
220 Criminal negligence causing death
229 Murder
230 Murder in commission of offences
236 Manslaughter
238 Killing unborn child in act of birth
239 Attempt to commit murder
240 Accessory after fact to murder
241 Counselling or Aiding Suicide
244 Discharging firearm with intent
244.1 Causing bodily harm with intent – air gun or pistol
244.2 Discharging firearm – recklessness
245 Administering noxious thing – bodily harm
246 Overcoming resistance to commission of offence
247 Sets trap – causes death
249 Dangerous operation of a vessel/vehicle/ aircraft causing death
249.1 Flight causing bodily harm or death
268 Aggravated assault
269.1 Torture
270.02 Aggravated assault peace officer
279.01 Trafficking in persons
279.011 Trafficking in persons under the age of 18 years
279.1 Hostage taking
287 Procuring miscarriage
343 Robbery
434 Arson

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