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April 29th, 2021

NDP wants to remove arbitrary barriers that keep families with sponsorship applications apart

VANCOUVER – Today NDP critic for immigration, refugees and citizenship Jenny Kwan tabled a bill to eliminate arbitrary barriers for spouses and common-law partners trying to reunite while they wait for their sponsorship application to be completed. Kwan says her proposal would make the immigration system fairer for the loved ones of Canadian citizens.

“Canadians have been suffering silently and alone as they face lengthy delays in the processing of their family sponsorship applications. What’s worse is that, even before COVID-19, they can’t have their loved ones visit,” said Kwan. “Immigration officers routinely reject applications for Canadian citizens’ loved ones to come visit by claiming that their strong ties to Canadians would result in an overstay. Essentially, the system assumes people can’t be trusted to visit their Canadian family members and then go home. It’s offensive and it punishes people on pure speculation.”

The NDP bill states that loved ones with family sponsorship applications awaiting processing may not be refused entry to Canada as a temporary resident just because they haven’t established that they will leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay. However, this would not apply if there is a history of non-compliance with requirements to leave Canada or any other country. It also ensures that a foreign national who has a family sponsorship application underway may remain in Canada as a temporary resident until a final decision is made on their application.

“My office has dealt with countless cases where people are still rejected on this basis even if they have a previous history of travelling without incident. That’s why I am tabling this bill today so we can restore fairness and humanity to the process,” added Kwan.

Spousal Sponsorship Advocates, a grassroots organization representing families across the country, has been calling on the Liberal government to stop penalizing them with such unfair immigration policies.

“Fathers are being denied entry into Canada for the births of their children and spouses are being kept apart from one another for months and even years. Families are suffering from depression; some are even having suicidal thoughts,” said Misha Pelletier, spokesperson and co-founder of Spousal Sponsorship Advocates. “The proposed changes in this private member’s bill will enable loved ones to be together on Canadian soil while they await the finalization of their spousal sponsorship application.”