Newcomers to Canada will soon have a much shorter wait to reunite with their spouses, partners and children.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum announced today in Brampton, Ont., that the current average two-year processing period will be reduced to 12 months. The new one-year guarantee will apply to applications already in the queue and new applicants.
"This will be of direct benefit to the 64,000 spouses we will admit to Canada in the coming year," he said.
"But it will be of benefit to all Canadians, because I think people are more productive citizens, they do better overall, when they are with their families than when they are isolated from their families. This measure will be positive for the whole country."
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McCallum stressed the accelerated processing time will not mean cutting corners on security or medical screening, and said the same mandatory checks will be place.
"Those will remain intact, and our immigration officers will remain vigilant to detect and impede fraudulent marriages," he said.
Fraudulent marriages can result in the loss of permanent resident status for the sponsored individual or the sponsor.
The expedited processing will be achieved by increasing the number of people processing claims and improving efficiencies in the system.
The family reunification guide has been revamped from a cumbersome 180 pages to a streamlined 75-page document. The application process will also be "simplified" with plain language.
"You won't need a PhD in English to understand the forms," McCallum said.
The new application kits will be in place as of Dec. 15, 2016.
McCallum said he hopes to cut wait times even more in the future, but conceded the Immigration department is a "big ship" that can't be turned "on a dime."