For spousal sponsorship applications filed on or after October 25, 2012, a sponsored person may now be subject to a two-year period of “conditional” permanent residence, running from the day after their permanent residence is granted. The conditional permanent resident visa won’t apply if at the time the sponsorship application was filed the marriage/common law/conjugal relationship was more than two years or, the sponsor and sponsored spouse had a child together.
If either of the above don’t apply then the sponsored person would be subject to the condition of residing with the sponsor for two years or else lose permanent resident status. Accompanying children of the sponsored person would also lose permanent resident status.
To help reduce the potential imbalance of power, there are some common-sense exceptions such as if the sponsor has died during the two-year period of conditional residence and second, where there is evidence of abuse or neglect from the sponsor, or failure by the sponsor to protect from abuse by a relative of the sponsor. However, the two year condition puts the sponsor in a position of power over the sponsored possibly putting the sponsored at risk of abuse during the two years. This is particularly so where the sponsored spouse may be unable or unwilling to allege the abuse, (unable to, for example, due to a language barrier, and unwilling to, for example due to the possibility of being forced into a shelter for abused women).
On the other hand, the sponsor may be at a financial risk due to the requirement Under sections.13.1 to 13.2 of the IRPA and section s.131-132 of the Regulations, to reimburse thegovernment for any benefit provided to the sponsored person during the three year period of sponsorship. Thus, if the sponsored spouse goes on social assistance within the three years, the sponsor must repay the social assistance used by the sponsored spouse.
The financial risk to sponsors has no remedy; the sponsored spouse may break-up with the sponsor due to incompatibility shortly after landing, may never get deported, and then take social assistance for three years, leaving the sponsor on the hook for said social assistance. To streamline egregious cases (and effectively reduce the amount of social assistance money the sponsor would have to repay), Canada’s enforcement department may employ more CBSA officers to investigate tips by jilted sponsors, perhaps through an official tip telephone line or email. Said tips, if acted upon quickly may reduce the amount of social assistance money taken by the fraudulent sponsored spouse.
Sponsors should have regard to the comments in the CIC letter that approves the sponsorship:
Reminder – Your undertaking is an unconditional promise of support
The undertaking you signed is an unconditional promise to financially support and provide basic requirements for your sponsored relative(s). This undertaking is not broken by such changes as the granting of Canadian citizenship, divorce, separation, relationship breakdown, moving to another province, or a change in your financial situation. Your obligations as a sponsor begin as soon as your sponsored relative and, if applicable, their accompanying family members become permanent residents of Canada. This undertaking cannot be cancelled once permanent resident visas are issued to them.