On or after December 15, 2016, most spousal visa applications submitted in and outside Canada will be processed within 12 months, instead of the current average of 24 months, according to the Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Additional streamlining of the application process will include the following changes:
One application kit (applicants will no longer have to choose between two kits depending on whether they live in or outside Canada);
A simplified guide;
Reduced checklist options;
Only one relationship questionnaire; and
The medical, criminality and security screening will no longer need to be conducted prior to submission of the application, though it will still be required.
Incomplete applications will be returned earlier in the process.
Extension of Open Work Permit Program
Additionally, IRCC is extending the pilot program which allows eligible spouses or partners to work while their permanent residence applications are pending from December 22, 2016 until December 21, 2017.
What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals
Applicants filing to sponsor their spouse or partner should use the new streamlined kit as soon as it is available on December 15, 2016.
IRCC will continue to accept applications using the current kit until January 31, 2017. After this date, only applications using the new kit will be accepted.