On March 2 2012 the government announced a regulatory change that requires sponsored spouses or common-law partners to wait five years from the day when they are granted permanent residence status in Canada before they can sponsor a new spouse or partner. The objective of this change is to discourage immigration fraud in spouse or common-law partner family class cases.

There is a reasonable argument to be made in favour of such a requirement. Until this regulatory change, a sponsored spouse or common-law partner arriving in Canada as a permanent resident could leave his or her sponsor and sponsor another spouse or partner, while the original sponsor remained financially responsible for the newly arrived spouse or partner for up to three years. However, the imposition of a five-year bar may be excessive.

A Canadian citizen or permanent resident who sponsors a spouse or common-law partner is usually subject to a legally enforceable affidavit of support for a period of three years. Although it may be logical to impose a bar on the sponsored immigrant's ability to sponsor a different spouse or common-law partner for a period of time, a three-year bar that runs parallel to the original sponsor's three-year financial obligation would have been more appropriate.

In any event, the regulations now impose a sponsorship bar of five years. The proposal was pre-published in the Canada Gazette on April 2 2011 and was open for a 30-day public comment period. The regulatory change officially came in to force on March 2 2012, but was not formally published in the Canada Gazette until March 14 2012.

For further information on this topic please contact Henry J Chang at Blaney McMurtry LLP by telephone (+1 416 593 1221), fax (+1 416 593 5437) or email ([email protected]).