On October 26, 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC“) implemented conditional permanent residency for certain people who immigrate to Canada under the spousal-sponsorship program. The implementation of conditional permanent residency took affect on October 25, 2012, the day prior to CIC publicizing it. The change was not retroactive, and will not affect sponsorship applications which were received by CIC prior to October 25, 2012.
CIC has stated that the goal of introducing conditional permanent residency is to reduce instances of marriages of convenience.
What Conditional Permanent Residency Is, and Who it Applies to
Conditional permanent residency applies to individuals who are the spouse, common-law, or conjugal partner of their sponsor for two years or less when they submit their sponsorship applications and who do not have children in common with their sponsor when they submit the sponsorship applications (“Conditional Permanent Residents“). Conditional Permanent Residents are required to cohabit in a conjugal relationship with their sponsors for a continuous period of two years after the day on which they become permanent residents (the “Condition“). If CIC determines that Conditional Permanent Residents have breached the Condition, CIC will declare them inadmissible to Canada, and removal proceedings will be initiated. Conditional Permanent Residents are able to appeal such decisions to the Immigration Appeal Division, which can consider humanitarian & compassionate considerations.
Specifically, the Condition applies if the couple does not have any children in common and:
- has been married for two years or less;
- dated for four years, but has been married for two years or less;
- has been in a conjugal relationship for two years or less;
- has cohabited in a common-law relationship for two years or less; or
- has been in a common-law or conjugal relationship for more than two years and has been married for less than two years, and the person submitted an application as a spouse.
The Condition does apply if the couple
- has been married for more than two years;
- has been in a conjugal relationship for more than two years and the person submitted an application as a conjugal partner;
- has cohabited in a common-law relationship for more than two years and the person submitted an application as a common-law partner; or
- has children in common.
Having the Condition Removed and Investigations
At the end of the two-year period, a Conditional Permanent Resident does not have to submit an application to CIC to have the Condition removed. Instead, CIC automatically removes the Condition after two years if there is no ongoing investigation into whether the Conditional Permanent Resident complied with the Condition.
CIC conducts an investigation into a Conditional Permanent Resident either as a result of a random assessment, or as a result of information that CIC receives which leads it to suspect that a Conditional Permanent Resident breached the Condition. During an investigation into whether a Conditional Permanent Resident complied with the Condition, the immigrant must provide evidence of their compliance with the Condition. In other words, the sponsored spouse or partner must provide evidence that he or she cohabited in a conjugal relationship with their sponsor for the two-year period following the individual immigrating to Canada.
CIC may also conduct an investigation into a permanent resident after it has already removed the Condition from the permanent resident’s file if it receives information that the Conditional Permanent Resident breached the Condition.
Permanent residents who are the subject of ongoing investigations into whether they were previously Conditional Permanent Resident who breached the Condition may not be granted citizenship.
In other words, while the Condition will be automatically removed after the two-year period (which will save most individuals the need to complete extensive paperwork), CIC can still commence an investigation and depending on the results of the investigation instigate removal proceedings against a person who it believes breached the Condition even after the two-year period has elapsed.
To reiterate, the Condition will not apply to people who have been the spouse, common-law, or conjugal partner of the sponsor for two years or more, or, if they have been in such a relationship for less than two years, have a child together.
The Condition will also cease to apply to Conditional Permanent Residents where there is evidence that the sponsor died during the two-year period, in instances where there is evidence of abuse or neglect from the sponsor, or in instances of a failure by the sponsor to protect the Conditional Permanent Resident from abuse or neglect by another person related to the sponsor.
CIC has provided extensive definitions of what consitutes “abuse” or “neglect” that are beyond the scope of this newsletter. We have provided at the end of this newsletter a link to the relevant CIC Operational Bulletin which discusses the introduction of conditional permanent residency. .
More information on conditional permanent residency can be found in Operational Bulletin 480.
We have reproduced the training material for Operational Bulletin 480 below. Please note that the reproduction did not occur with the affiliation of the Government of Canada, and should not be viewed as legal advice.Training Manual
With the sponsorship bar and conditional permanent residency the government has produced the following timeline to explain how these conditions work.
Year 0 – Applicant immigrates to Canada and becomes a permanent resident of Canada. If the applicant was married or in a common-law partnership with the Canadian sponsor for less than two years prior to the couple submitting their sponsorship application (and they do not have children in common together) then the immigrant is a “conditional permanent resident” who has to stay married and live with the sponsor for a period of two years after the immigrant becomes a permanent resident.
Year 2 – The condition of staying married and living together with the sponsor is removed for conditional permanent residents.
Year 3 – The sponsor’s sponsorship undertaking ends. The sponsor will no longer be liable to a level of government for any social assistance that the immigrant receives. If the sponsor and immigrant have divorced or separated, the sponsor can now sponsor someone new.