Backgrounder Article from  Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Improvements to spousal sponsorship process: The New Application Kit

The Government of Canada is releasing a new spousal sponsorship application kit on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website on December 15, 2016. The new application kit will make it easier and faster to apply through the spousal sponsorship program at 12:00 p.m. (noon) Eastern Standard Time. As part of the new application process, applicants will not have to provide certain information up front, such as medical examination results.

The changes to the kit will include the following:

  • A new application kit for use by all spousal applicants. Applicants will no longer have to choose between two different kits depending on whether they live in Canada or outside Canada. All applicants will use the same application kit.

    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.

    Applicants are strongly encouraged to begin using the new kit, which is easier to use and understand, as soon as it is available on December 15, 2016.

  • To help clients through the application process, a brand new “Basic Guide” has been developed. This guide summarizes the applications process and gives clients a clear explanation of what they need to do to apply.

    If applicants need more detailed information, they can consult the “Complete Guide”, which has been improved. Right now, there are several different application guides for sponsors and applicants. These have been combined into one document that is shorter and easier to understand.

  • One new Relationship Information and Sponsorship Evaluation form has been developed. Right now, the sponsor must complete a sponsorship evaluation form, and the sponsor and applicant may also complete either one or two additional relationship questionnaires, depending on whether the applicant lives in Canada or outside Canada. These will all be merged into one form to be completed by both the sponsor and the person they are sponsoring and will be the same for all spousal applicants.

  • To help clients make sure their application is complete, four new document checklists will be available, depending on who is being sponsored. These will replace the current 14 checklists. Applicants will select the appropriate checklist depending on who is being sponsored (i.e., a spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner or dependent child). The new checklists clearly summarize all the forms and documents that must be included with the application and will help applicants determine what specific information will be needed for their application.

    All new applications that are received using the new application kit must include all the required documents listed on the checklist. This will ensure more efficient and timely processing by eliminating the additional processing time that results from back-and-forth between IRCC and clients while the Department waits to receive required documents. If an application is received that does not have all the required forms and documents on the checklist, IRCC will not accept it for processing and will return the application to the applicant.

For a general overview of the changes, view this graphic.

The changes being made will also address one of the main challenges identified by sponsors and applicants: the period of time between when they submit their application and when they receive a decision. During this time, they may face uncertainty about the status of their application, particularly if they are not contacted for more information or to attend an interview. To help with this, IRCC will do the following:

  • Ask applicants to link their paper application to an online account. This will make it easier for clients to receive information from IRCC, send information back to IRCC and check whether they have been asked to send any additional information or documentation. Clients who receive requests for information will be asked to respond within the time frame provided.
  • Require certain information later in the process. With the new application kit, IRCC can start processing the application after receiving it with all the required documents on the checklist. The applicant will be asked to provide certain information and documents later in the process rather than upfront as was previously required, namely their Schedule A: Background/Declaration form, medical examination and police certificates. Additional information may be requested as well.

For a general overview of the new process, view this graphic.

For more information on what the Government is doing to reduce processing times and improve client service, see the backgrounder Reuniting more spouses and partners.

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