Canadian Government Considers Tighter Language Requirements for Immigrant Spouses

In keeping with its recent efforts to overhaul the country’s immigration system, the Canadian government may be considering stricter language requirements for immigrants’ spouses.

While a final decision has yet to be reached, Canada’s Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has raised the idea of stricter language requirements for immigrant spouses at consultation meetings with representatives of the immigrant communities. The stated goal of the changes, according to those in attendance, was to better ensure the integration and protection of immigrant spouses in Canada.

However, some critics of the idea are voicing concern that stricter language requirements may result in making it harder for immigrant spouses from developing countries—who speak limited English or French—to immigrate to Canada and rejoin their families.  Raising additional concerns, there are also reports the government is considering requiring Canadian sponsors have a minimum income in order to be able to bring a spouse, or children, from abroad.

Alexander has held meetings with immigrant representatives from across Canada, seeking their input on how the government should move forward with reforming its immigration system, including the immigration spousal sponsorship program.

Other changes said to be under consideration by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) include new measures to deny entry to Canada to polygamists; raising the minimum age of sponsored spouses from 16 to 18; and creating incentives for self-employment for immigrant women.

Still, a spokesperson from Alexander’s office denied that any final decision on the changes had been reached, and that so far all that’s occurred is the “issue had been raised by stakeholders.”

The question of better protecting immigrant spouses has been in the forefront lately after a Canadian immigrant woman from Afghanistan was found murdered by her husband—in the same riding represented in parliament by the immigration minister.