Family reunification

Refugee and immigrant families are frequently separated for prolonged periods or indefinitely, due to policies and practices that block or delay reunification. 

Refugees are among those hardest hit.  Families are often separated while in flight.  Once in Canada, they can apply to be reunited with their immediate family members.  However, too often spouses and children overseas wait years for processing, even though they may be in situations of danger and persecution.

Join the CCR’s family reunification campaign

All families have equal value. However, Canada’s immigration system treats families unequally:

  • By immigration category (Refugees and live-in caregivers wait much longer for family reunification than people in the Family Class)
  • By region (Processing in Africa is much slower than in other regions)
  • By law (Some families are denied by law the right to family reunification, e.g. Excluded Family members (R 117(9)(d))

Family separation has devastating impacts on mental health and impedes the ability of refugees and other newcomers to integrate in Canada.

Family separation also leads to lost economic opportunities – for the affected families and for Canada as a whole.

Family reunification for all handout: this three-page PDF document outlines the issues this campaign focuses on.

Principal recommendations

  1. Processing times
Refugees and live-in caregivers wait much longer for family reunification than people in the Family Class, especially in some regions, such as Africa.

Recommendation: Introduce the same standard short processing times for family reunification for spouses and children, in all categories and regions.

Recommendation: Publish data on processing times by category and region, so the public can monitor if standards are met.

  1. Excluded Family Member rule

Regulation 117(9)(d), the “excluded family member” rule, denies some families the right to reunification.

Recommendation: Repeal the Excluded Family Member rule (Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations 117(9)(d)). (Cases of suspected fraud can be addressed through misrepresentation provisions.)

Other recommendations

We also encourage those participating in the campaign to highlight one among the following list of additional recommendations.

  • Provide Temporary Residence Permits (TRPs) to family members of survivors of trafficking in Canada.
  • Allow spouses and children of Temporary Foreign Workers (including live-in caregivers) to accompany them in Canada.
  • Quickly bring age of dependants back up to under-22 and ensure transitional rules are in place to cover the children who aged out since August 2014
  • Introduce measures to ensure expedited processing of separated children at risk
  • Amend the law to ensure that separated children in Canada can quickly apply to reunite with parents or older siblings
  • Amend the regulations to provide increased opportunities for families to reunite (including for refugee families).

Take action

The CCR encourages organizations and individuals to:

  • Organize local forums
  • Visit local MPs in constituencies (on or around 4 April)

Click here to take action