The government of Canada announced the extension of the Open Work Permit program for Inland Spousal Sponsorship until January 31, 2019. This program was initially introduced in 2015 as part of the Family Reunification priority to allow spouses who are being sponsored for permanent residence in Canada to work while the Spousal PR application is being processed. Typical processing times for Inland Spousal Sponsorship is approximately 12 months. The ability to have an Open Work Permit during this process helps families support themselves better financially as the sponsored spouse can work during this time.
To be eligible for a Spousal Open Work Permit, certain conditions must be met:
• Sponsor must be a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident
• Must be legally married, have a marriage certificate OR considered Common-law (living together for 12 months continuously at some point, with appropriate evidence)
• Sponsor and Spouse being sponsored BOTH must reside in Canada and provide evidence of co-habitation (lease agreement, property deed, utility bills, telephone bills, bank statements, etc). *IRCC has become more strict on this requirement since Dec 2016.
• Application must be submitted (by mail) for Inland processing, in Canada, along with an Open Work Permit application AND the application must be duly completed in order to be accepted by CPC-M visa office for processing. (If the application is not complete, it will be returned after 2.5 months and must be re-submitted)
* Once the Inland Spousal Sponsorship application is accepted for processing, it will take 2 months to receive confirmation from CPC-M with instructions to link the application online. Two weeks immediately following, the Open Work Permit will be mailed.
The Spousal Sponsorship application process is a daunting and time consuming task. It is very administrative for the most part, but can also be overwhelming and challenging should a case not be straight-forward (previous marriages, arranged marriages, marriages less than 2 years, children from previous marriages, common-law relationship) . Typical Spousal applications are between 120 - 150 pages, after including all government forms and accompanying evidentiary documents.
The Canadian government has become increasingly more strict when reviewing applications and granting approvals. Unfortunately, there has been a growing number of fraudulent applications whereby persons are using the Spousal Sponsorship application processes to obtain permanent residence illegally. This has made it much more challenging to prepare a strong application that will be approved without issue. Often, when individuals attempt to apply on their own, the application is weak and the visa officer is not convinced of the genuineness of the relationship. They will either request an interview for both people, issue a fairness letter requesting more evidence with further explanation, or an outright refusal. Approximately 40% of the clients our firm retains is after a refusal when they apply on their own.
• Application is returned: If an application was not complete, CPC-M will return the application after 2 to 2.5 months. If a person was relying on implied status via the Open Work Permit being approved, they will fall out of status as the work permit will not be processed. If the person has been out of status for less than 90 days, they can apply for Restoration of Status and resubmit the Spousal application. If 90 days has passed since falling out of status, they will need to leave Canada.
• In person interviews: people often get nervous and act suspicious, or they answer questions incorrectly- this happens all too often. The visa officer will take detailed notes of the interview and will refuse the application if they are not convinced after the interview.
• Fairness letter: IRCC will send a letter, requesting additional information. Fortunately, such a letter provides an opportunity to respond. It is imperative to provide a detailed submission letter, along with additional evidence that will support the application. Failure to do so will result in a refusal. If you find yourself in this situation, it is strongly advised to retain professional help to help prepare a response.
• Refusal: If an Inland Spousal application is refused, there are no rights to an appeal (as there are with Outland applications). If an application is refused, the person in Canada will no longer have status. The only option would be to retain a law firm to file a Judicial review on the original application or submit a new application. Judicial review will take 6 to 12 months, plus 12 additional months to process application.
If you would like to retain professional help to prepare and submit a Spousal application, contact us or email.
Matkowsky and Associates