There is a condition applicable to certain permanent residents that requires a sponsored spouse or partner to cohabit with their sponsor for two years following their arrival in Canada to maintain their permanent resident status. If the couple does not cohabit for the required two years, only the sponsored spouse or partner is at risk of losing their permanent resident status, regardless of the reason the cohabitation ceased. This creates an imbalance between the sponsor and their spouse or partner, which can make the sponsored spouse or partner more vulnerable.
A sponsored spouse or partner can be vulnerable for many reasons, including age, gender, official language proficiency, isolation, and financial dependence on their sponsor. The two-year cohabitation requirement can compound these vulnerabilities, and spouses and partners who are victims of abuse or neglect are most at risk in these situations. While the conditional permanent residence provisions contain an exception to the cohabitation requirement in cases of abuse or neglect, there is a risk that sponsored spouses and partners could remain in abusive relationships. This could be due to a lack of knowledge about the exception, the perceived challenge of applying for and receiving an exception, or the fear of losing their immigration status.
The objective of the proposed repeal of the conditional permanent residence regulatory provisions is to eliminate the requirement for spouses or partners to cohabit with their sponsor for two years. This would help to ensure that sponsored spouses and partners are not placed at an increased risk of vulnerability. It would also support the Government’s commitment to family reunification and its emphasis on gender equality and combatting gender-based violence.