New permanent residents are always required to declare their spouse, common-law partner and dependent children, even if those family members are not planning to join them in Canada. All family members must be examined. Failure to declare a family member before landing as a permanent resident has long meant a lifetime ban on sponsoring that person for status in Canada (s. 117(9)(d) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations).
The ban is aimed at maintaining the integrity of Canada’s immigration system and preventing fraud. However, applicants sometimes fail to declare not due to malicious intent, but rather due to lack of understanding of the law or bad advice.
While the law has not changed, the Federal government has recently acknowledged that the lifetime ban poses disproportionate hardship in some cases, particularly where children are involved. A new pilot program will allow Canadian citizens and permanent residents who obtained their own status through the refugee program or family sponsorship to sponsor undeclared family members. Sponsored family members must still meet other admissibility requirements for admission to Canada.
Because of the strict eligibility requirements, the pilot program will directly apply to only a limited number of applicants. That said, IRCC’s recognition of the hardship that results from s. 117(9)(d) is a welcome development. It may signal an openness to consider humanitarian and compassionate reasons to overcome the ban in other situations not covered by the pilot program.
If you would like more information or clarification on how the pilot program might affect you or your family, contact a member of the professional team at CILF.