OTTAWA: The government of Canada will be speeding up Spousal application processing to help families build their lives together in Canada, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, has announced.
Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has increased the number of decision-makers on spousal applications in Canada by 66%, to process spousal applications more quickly and reduce couples’ wait times.
The minister said that IRCC is leveraging new technology in a pilot to digitize paper applications so they can be processed more efficiently by IRCC employees working remotely and at various worksites.
In addition to implementing facilitative biometrics measures, IRCC will be piloting, in the upcoming weeks, technology to conduct interviews with applicants remotely, in adherence with public health protocols.
With these initiatives, IRCC aims to accelerate, prioritize, and finalize approximately 6,000 spousal applications each month from October until December 2020.
Combined with processing to date, this rate will lead to about 49,000 decisions by the end of this year. COVID-19 has created uncertainty for Canadians who are sponsoring spouses for permanent residence.
We will continue to search for innovative and compassionate ways to reunite families while following the advice of our public health experts to protect the health and safety of Canadians.
Minister Mendicino said: “We understand that the last few Conmonths have not been easy for those who are far from their loved ones in these difficult times. This is why we are accelerating the approval of spousal applications as much as possible. Our government will continue to find new ways to keep families together.”
Meanwhile, due to public health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of biometrics collection sites in and outside Canada, including some visa application centres (VACs), United States application support centres (ASCs) and designated Service Canada Centres, remain closed or have reopened with only limited services.
IRCC has said that, until further notice, foreign nationals who have previously given their biometrics in support of an immigration application within the last 10 years are exempt from the requirement to give their biometrics in support of their pending or new application for permanent residence.
While this temporary public policy is in place, the biometrics these applicants have previously given will be reused for screening purposes to ensure the safety and security of all Canadians as these applications move forward in processing.
Applicants are exempt from the requirement to give their biometrics if they have both of the following:
• a new or pending application for permanent residence made from within or outside Canada; already submitted their biometrics in support of an immigration application within the last 10 years Applicants should not pay the biometric fee (CAN$85).