Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said in a release the changes were sparked by an incident he doesn't want to see repeated.
"I was very concerned after a court decision in 2008 found that a Canadian citizen, who was convicted in India of killing his sister-in-law after setting her on fire, could sponsor his new wife," Kenney said. "The regulatory changes now in force aim to prevent a similar situation from happening again."
The minister said the new regulations were essentially designed to protect women.
"There was no ground in our law to deny that spousal sponsorship," Kenney said. "This is to protect vulnerable immigrant women in particular from abusive husbands."
The changes are to regulations and not to law, so didn't require debate in Parliament, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said.