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Immigration Minister John McCallumImmigration Minister John McCallum says he’s planning on introducing changes in the “next couple of months” that will grant permanent resident status to the sponsored spouses of Canadians, immediately, upon arriving in Canada.

“When spouses come in now, they don’t immediately become permanent residents; there’s a two-year period where they are not yet permanent residents,” Mr. McCallum (Markham-Thornhill, Ont.) said in an interview with The Hill Times. “We said in our platform that we will end that so that they will become permanent residents on arrival.”

Currently, sponsored spouses of Canadians receive conditional permanent residency upon arrival in Canada and have to wait for two years to obtain permanent-resident status. If the relationship breaks down, the sponsored spouse’s permanent residency can be revoked. Spouses holding conditional permanent resident status enjoy the same rights and benefits as any other permanent resident.

The Conservatives introduced the conditional permanent-resident provision in 2012 to address the issue of marriage fraud.

Since becoming the immigration minister in November, a number of Liberal MPs in ridings with large visible-minority populations have been asking Mr. McCallum (Markham-Thornhill, Ont.) to take immediate measures to make the application processing time of family sponsorship applications faster. Most MPs representing major urban centres from all parties say that issues related to immigration, refugees and citizenship account for 70 to 80 per cent of their constituency work.

Mr. McCallum, whose riding has the third-highest percentage of visible minority population at 82 per cent, said that he finds it “abominable” that it takes almost two years for the spousal immigration applications to be processed, and after arriving in Canada, another two years to receive permanent-resident status. He said that his department is working on coming up with plans to speed up the application processing times. Mr. McCallum did not offer a specific target timeframe for reducing the application processing times, but said that it will be brought down “radically.”

 

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