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What Canada Immigration Officers Consider As “Dual Intent” For Spousal Sponsorship Applicants?

The concept of ‘dual intent’ has always been a controversial topic for those wishing to unite with their spouses or common-law partners in Canada.

Certain couples applying for spousal sponsorship wish to first apply for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) and then come to Canada to file for inland sponsorship.

The other option is to apply for both TRV and spousal sponsorship at the same time.

While Canadian immigration officers have to ensure that applicants for temporary visas will leave at the end of their stay, it is in order to apply for Canadian permanent residence as a temporary resident.

In other words, applying for a temporary residence visa, of any kind, does not prevent you from also applying for Canadian permanent residence.

The real definition of “dual intent” in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act says that:

An intention by a foreign national to become a permanent resident does not preclude them from becoming a temporary resident if the immigration officer is satisfied that they will leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay.

However, this has not stopped some candidates from being turned down because they were not able to show that they would leave Canada once their temporary residence visa expires.

On October 30, the immigration ministry updated its program delivery instructions for visa officers, clarifying considerations to take when assessing spousal sponsorship applications. In particular, those who have also applied for a TRV.

Canadian immigration officers should consider the individual circumstances of foreign nationals who are being sponsored for Canadian permanent residence as a spouse or common-law partner, the instruction says.

Some of the aspect they need to consider include:

  • whether the spousal sponsorship application has been approved;
  • whether the application for Canadian permanent residence has received stage one approval;
  • to what extent the applicant has maintained ties in their home country; and
  • if their application is turned down, what is the applicant’s plan?

Basically, spouses and common-law partners must convince the immigration officer that they will only stay in Canada as long as they have legal status. Immigration officers will also consider other aspects, like those they apply when they assess dual intent.

How immigration officers are supposed to check dual intent?

There is a difference between temporary residents who plan to leave Canada and those who do not plan to leave at the end of their stay if their application for Canadian permanent residence is turned down.

When immigration officers assess the applicant’s intentions, they are told to look at the temporary residence applicants circumstances. Among other factors, immigration officers consider the following when checking an application for temporary residence:

  • the length of time the applicant will stay in Canada;
  • their means of support;
  • obligations and connection to the home country;
  • the purpose or the reason behind the stay;
  • the credibility of documents and information lodged; and
  • past compliance with Canadian immigration rules, and information available in biographic and biometrics information sharing.

From the immigration officer’s perspective, it is no different from reviewing any other temporary residence application. Each applicant is to get a “procedurally fair, individual assessment.”

If an immigration officer has concerns about the applicant’s intentions, the applicant should be made aware of these concerns or doubts and given the opportunity to respond.

If the immigration officer does not approve the application for temporary residence, the immigration officer have to give the applicant a letter explaining why they were refused visa.

If temporary residence applicants do not show that they have any intention of leaving Canada, and the immigration officer just sees their only goal as a permanent residence, their application may be refused.

Even if the applicant might subsequently qualify for a Provincial Nominee Program or Canadian Experience Class.

The reason for this, IRCC says, is because the applicant has not indicated that they would respect the terms and conditions of temporary residence visa, should they not qualify for canadian permanent residence.

Immigration fficers will use their own opinion or judgment on applications with dual intent, nonetheless the Global Case Management System notes should clearly show the officer’s reasoning when assessing the application.

In other words, if dual intent was seen as part of the decision on the application it should be stated in the applicant’s file.