Canada Plan To Clear Up backlog Of Spousal Sponsorship Applications

As IRCC is trying to speed up it’s processing of spousal sponsorship applications, advocates say a lot more still needs to be done.

Misha Pelletier, the spokeswoman for Spousal Sponsorship Advocates, says a lot of candidates under the spousal sponsorship program for Canadian permanent residency are still seeing delays of as much as thirty-four (34) months.

“Applicants still need to submit their applications paper-based and still need to forward their passports in the mail, so there is room for loss. There is room for error,” says Pelletier.

But not everyone agrees the processing times are so long.

According to an article in the Toronto Star, the average processing time is now seventeen (17) months for overseas applications and fifteen (15) months for in-Canada applications, up from the twelve (12) months it took to process applications before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Everyone does agree, though, that Ottawa should speed up things and clear up the backlog of spousal sponsorship applications.

In late September last year, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino unveiled a plan to accelerate spousal applications process and help families build their lives together in Canada.

“We know that the last few months have not been easy for those who are far from their spouse or loved ones in these difficult times,” said Mr. Marco Mendicino in September.

“This is why we are speeding up the approval of spousal applications as much as we can,” he said. “Our government will continue to explore new ways to keep families together.”

Canada Boosts Staff to Decide on Spousal Sponsorships by 66%

Canada increased the number of people who make decisions on these spousal applications by sixty-six (66) per cent in the last quarter of 2020.

The Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) also availed itself of new technology under a pilot project to digitize paper applications so they could be processed more effectively and efficiently by employees or IRCC working remotely and at various worksites.

IRCC also pledged itself to take on another pilot project to use technology to hold interviews with applicants remotely, in compliance to public health protocols.

“We are in 2021. It’s about time,” says Pelletier.

Those initiatives were expected to make the government processed about 6,000 spousal applications each month from Oct. through to the end of Dec. The target was 49,000 spousal sponsorship applications by the end of 2020.

Spousal* Applications Processed for Permanent Residence between October. 1 through to December. 31, 2020 (in persons)
Decision Month Approved Refused Withdrawn Grand Total
October                4,945                    246              131            5,322
November                5,436                    313              106            5,855
December                4,435                    278              109            4,822
Grand Total             14,816                    837              346         15,999
*Spouses, common law-partners and Family Class Humanitarian (FCH) are considered as Spousal

Canada failed to meet up with that goal of processing 15,999 applications in the last three (3) months of 2020 and approving only 14,816 applications. The number of rejected applications was 837 and 346 were withdrawn.

Pelletier says that’s not good enough. In an interview, she gave the IRCC only fifty (50) percent, which she described as a failing grade.

Backlog of Spousal Sponsorships Applications Goes Back Almost Three Years

“Until we see the 2017 to 2019 backlog of applicants cleared up, we will not be satisfied,” she declared. “There’re a lot of babies being born without their fathers.”

During the coronavirus pandemic, she estimates it should take no more than fifteen (15) months for the government to process spousal sponsorship applications. Once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, she would like to see that processing time cut to six to 9 months.

In an interview with TVO, the Canadian immigration minister has said that his vision is for the Canadian immigration system to be “completely virtual and that each and every one of these steps is unified so that we become the envy of the world.” Canada has already moved citizenship ceremonies and some of its other processes online.