On December 7, 2016, Canada’s Immigration Minister, John McCallum, announced that processing times for the spousal/partner categories of the family program are to be reduced to 12 months, from the current average of 24 months, with an additional goal to eventually reduce processing times to as low as six months.
Average Processing Times
When the Liberal government took office last year, the average processing time for spouses/common-law partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents in Canada was 26 months. For spouses/common-law partners outside Canada, it was 18 months. The new 12-month target applies to applicants inside and outside Canada.
“We have listened to Canadians and are delivering results. Bringing families together makes for a stronger Canada. Canadians who marry someone from abroad shouldn’t have to wait for years to have them immigrate or be left with uncertainty in terms of their ability to stay. What we’re announcing today is a more efficient, more considerate process to reunite families.”
The government of Canada plans on welcoming 64,000 new permanent residents as the spouses, common-law partners, or dependent children of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in 2017.
In addition, the government has set a target of 20,000 new permanent residents under the Parent and Grandparent Program (PGP). Although IRCC strives to reduce processing times for the PGP, the 12-month target will not apply to parents and grandparents at this time. The next application intake period for the PGP begins on January 3, 2017.
Minister McCallum added that certain other factors will help IRCC staff and applicants alike in reducing processing times and restructuring the process.
The new system will be operational online as of December 15, 2016. Since some applicants may have already started filling out their application using the current kit, IRCC will continue to accept new applications using the current kit until January 31, 2017. After this date, only applications using the new kit will be accepted.
In addition, IRCC confirmed that a popular pilot program that allows spouses and common-law partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents in Canada to work while awaiting permanent resident status has been extended until December 21, 2017.