Spousal sponsorship in Canada is a vital immigration pathway that brings families together. It also allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to reunite with their loved ones from around the world. Navigating the intricacies of this process is essential which is why you need a guide to spousal sponsorship in Canada to help you do things right.
This guide provides all the details you need to help you relocate and build a life with your partner. With its diverse culture, strong social support systems, and numerous opportunities, Canada is an attractive destination for families looking to start a new chapter together. So if you already have a partner who is a citizen or permanent resident, you should take advantage of the opportunity.
The Different Types of Partners You Can Sponsor
- A spouse is a person who is legally married to the sponsor and the marriage is recognized under Canadian law.
- Spousal sponsorship applies to individuals who have entered into a legal marriage with the sponsor, regardless of whether the marriage took place in Canada or another country.
- You will need proof of a valid marriage certificate to establish the spousal relationship.
- A common-law partner is someone who has been in a conjugal relationship with the sponsor for at least one year. This relationship must be characterized by a committed and cohabiting partnership, similar to a marriage, but without a formal legal marriage contract.
- Evidence of cohabitation and a shared life is crucial for establishing common-law partner status in spousal sponsorship in Canada. This can include joint financial documents, shared living arrangements, and other evidence of a genuine, long-term relationship.
- A conjugal partner is someone in a marriage-like relationship with the sponsor but cannot be classified as a spouse or common-law partner due to exceptional circumstances. These circumstances may include legal barriers to marriage, immigration restrictions, or other significant impediments.
- Conjugal partner sponsorship is typically reserved for couples who are in a genuine and committed relationship but cannot meet the legal requirements for marriage or cohabitation.
- Applicants must provide evidence of the exceptional barriers preventing them from being classified as a spouse or common-law partner.
Outland Sponsorship Vs. Inland Sponsorship
Inland Sponsorship Application
- Inland applications are for cases where the sponsored spouse or partner is already in Canada with valid temporary status (e.g., a visitor, student, or worker) at the time of application.
- The sponsored spouse may be eligible for an open work permit while the application is being processed, allowing them to work in Canada.
- The couple typically resides together in Canada during the application process.
- Inland applications are processed by the IRCC office responsible for processing applications within Canada.
Outland Sponsorship Application
- Outland applications in spousal sponsorship in Canada are for cases where the sponsored spouse or partner resides outside Canada or has temporary status in Canada but wishes to leave the country during the application process.
- The sponsored spouse may not be eligible for an open work permit while the application is processed unless they return to Canada.
- The processing of outland applications generally occurs at the Canadian visa office or consulate in the applicant’s home country or the country of legal residence.
- The sponsored spouse remains outside Canada while the application is being processed.
Eligibility and Requirements for Sponsoring Your Spouse to Canada
Criteria for the Sponsor
- You must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada.
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- You must not have a prison or crime record.
- You must not be under any financial assistance from the Canadian government except for special cases like physically challenged persons.
- You must prove that you can provide for the financial needs of the person for at least 3 years.
- If you are a Canadian citizen living outside the country, you must show proof that you will return to Canada once your sponsored relative becomes a permanent resident.
- If you previously sponsored a spouse or partner, you must wait for five years from the day they become a permanent resident before you are allowed another spousal sponsorship in Canada.
Criteria for the Sponsored Person
- Must be at least 18 years old
- Should not have a criminal record or pose a security risk.
- Must not be inadmissible to Canada.
- Must be a spouse, common-law partner, or in a conjugal relationship with the sponsor.
Processing Times and Timelines for Spousal Sponsorship Applications
Processing times for spousal sponsorship applications in Canada can vary based on several factors, including the type of application, the location of processing, the volume of applications, and individual circumstances.
However, outland applications typically take about 12 to 18 months. On the other hand, inland applications take about 12 to 24 months. Inland applications may be accompanied by an open work permit application for the sponsored spouse, allowing them to work in Canada while processing the application.
Financial Responsibilities of the Sponsor in a Spousal Sponsorship
As a sponsor, you will have to sign an undertaking agreement promising to provide your partner with the financial support they need, from basic needs to healthcare services. This undertaking is effective for three years from the date they receive their permanent residency.
If within the period of spousal sponsorship in Canada, you face financial difficulty or become divorced or separated from your partner, the undertaking agreement still holds till you complete the three-year period. Also, even if the sponsored person becomes a Canadian citizen or relocates to another province or country, the agreement still holds.
For the application processing fee, you may have to pay a total of up to $1,165 broken down as follows;
Sponsorship fee $75
Principal applilcant processing fee $490
Right of permanent residence $515
If your partner has dependent children, you will have to pay an additional $155 for each child. Keep in mind that these costs are subject to change.
Documents for Sponsoring a Spouse/ Common-Law Partner/ Conjuugal Partner
For Spousal Sponsorship
Marriage Certificate: Proof of a valid and legally recognized marriage between the sponsor and the spouse.
For Common-Law Partner Sponsorship
Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union: A notarized document in which both partners declare that they have been living together in a conjugal relationship for at least one year.
Documents Proving Cohabitation: These may include joint rental agreements, utility bills, or financial statements that show both partners sharing a residence and responsibilities.
For Conjugal Partner Sponsorship
Proof of Exceptional Circumstances: You must provide a detailed explanation of the exceptional barriers that prevent the relationship from fitting the spousal or common-law partner category. This could include legal, immigration, or cultural reasons.
Documents Supporting the Exceptional Barriers: Any relevant documents that support your claim of exceptional barriers, such as legal opinions, letters of explanation, or other evidence.
In all cases of spousal sponsorship in Canada, you’ll need to provide general supporting documents, which may include the following:
- Identity and Civil Status Documents: This includes passports, birth certificates, and any other documents establishing the identity and civil status of both the sponsor and the sponsored partner.
- Police Clearance Certificates: These documents are required to prove that both the sponsor and the sponsored partner do not have criminal records.
- Immigration Medical Examinations: The sponsored partner will typically need to undergo a medical examination by an approved panel physician.
- Financial Documents: The sponsor must provide financial documents, including a Notice of Assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency and employment or income verification.
- Photographs and Relationship Evidence: Photos and other evidence showing the genuineness of the relationship, such as letters, emails, travel records, and proof of communication and shared life.
- Application Forms: The specific forms required for the sponsorship application, such as the Generic Application Form for Canada (IMM 0008) and the Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking form (IMM 1344).
The Application Process
Ensure that both the sponsor and the sponsored spouse meet the eligibility criteria for spousal sponsorship. This includes citizenship or permanent residency status, the nature of the relationship, and other requirements.
Gather Required Documents
Collect all the necessary supporting documents for a spousal sponsorship in Canada. This may include identity and civil status documents, marriage certificates, police clearance certificates, immigration medical examinations, financial documents, and evidence of the relationship.
Complete Application Forms
Fill out the appropriate application forms, such as the Generic Application Form for Canada (IMM 0008), the Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking form (IMM 1344), and any other required forms.
Pay the required processing fees for both the sponsorship and permanent residence applications.
Submit the Application
Mail your complete sponsorship application to the appropriate Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) office based on your location or the type of application (inland or outland).
Review and Processing
IRCC will review the application, and if additional documents or information are needed, they may request them. The application processing time will depend on whether it’s inland or outland.
Examination and Police Clearance
The sponsored spouse will need to undergo an immigration medical examination by an approved panel physician. Both the sponsor and the sponsored spouse must provide police clearance certificates.
Interview (if required)
In some cases, you may receive an invite for an interview to assess the genuineness of the relationship.
IRCC will make a decision on the sponsorship application. If approved, the sponsored spouse will receive a Confirmation of Permanent Residence and can apply for permanent residency.
Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Spousal Sponsorship Application
- Incomplete Application: Failing to fill out all required forms or provide all necessary supporting documents for spousal sponsorship in Canada can result in processing delays or even application rejection.
- Not Meeting Eligibility Requirements: Ensure both the sponsor and the sponsored spouse meet all eligibility criteria, including status, relationship, and other requirements.
- Lack of Proof of Relationship: Failing to provide sufficient evidence of a genuine relationship, such as photos, joint financial documents, letters, and communication records, can lead to suspicion of a fraudulent application.
- Incorrect Forms and Outdated Information: Using outdated forms or not following the latest guidelines from IRCC can lead to complications.
- Late Submission: Submitting your application past the deadline can result in unnecessary delays. Always check the most up-to-date processing times on the IRCC website.
- Not Informing IRCC of Changes: If there are changes in circumstances, such as a new address, employment, or personal status, failure to inform IRCC can result in missed communications and delays.
- Failure to Prepare for Interviews: If you have an interview, not adequately preparing for it or being uncooperative during the interview can raise concerns about the relationship’s genuineness.
The process may seem complex and demanding, but with patience, diligence, and the right resources, you can successfully navigate the path to reuniting with your partner. And hopefully, this guide to spousal sponsorship in Canada helps. Remember that the key to a successful spousal sponsorship application lies in thorough preparation, meeting eligibility requirements, and ensuring all documentation is complete and accurate.