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If you are married, in a common-law or conjugal relationship with a foreign national, you may sponsor your spouse to Canada.

Learn whether you QUALIFY

… and WHAT APPLICATION to submit

Spousal Sponsorship Canada allows a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to sponsor a foreign wife, husband, common-law, conjugal, or same sex partner for permanent residency.

Let’s first find out how long it takes:

Spousal Sponsorship Canada processing times

The Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has been successfully working on reducing processing times for applicants within the sponsorship program.

This is especially evident for applicants (i.e. foreign spouses) who reside outside Canada. The goal of IRCC is to reunite couples as fast as possible. This is an official government policy.

“IRCC: Sponsorship applications involving spouses, common-law or conjugal partners and dependent children are given priority.” (link)

How fast is the processing in reality:

“Although the official processing times indicate an average 12-month duration, properly completed Spousal Sponsorship Outside Canada applications are frequently processed within 3-6 months.”

Applications of In-Canada applicants (i.e. foreign spouses residing in Canada with their sponsor) are, on average, processed in 12 months. This is mainly because the sponsor and the foreign spouse are already together in Canada, and therefore the processing urgency is not as strong.

In addition, unlike applicants from outside Canada, foreign spouses/common-law partners in Canada may benefit from a spousal open work permit while the sponsorship application is processed. This allows them to find employment while waiting for permanent residence.

spousal sponsorship outside canada

Avoid refusal or delays in getting your spouse PR Canada

In order to have a successful Spousal Sponsorship Canada Application, it is essential to make a number of well-informed decisions.

Sponsorship applications may be delayed, returned, or even refused due to missing or incorrect information.

You will need to be diligent when it comes to the submitted information and supporting documents.

It all starts with deciding whether you qualify and what application to submit.

On this page, we will guide you through this decision-making process.

Review the following:

  • Who Can Be Sponsored
  • What are Relationships/Marriages of Convenience
  • What are the requirements for the Sponsor
  • What are the requirements for the person sponsored (i.e. foreign spouse/common-law partner)
  • Who else can be sponsored as part of the spousal sponsorship application
  • When to apply from outside Canada
  • When to apply from inside Canada
Spousal Sponsorship Canada Cost

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Who can be sponsored

You can apply for Spousal Sponsorship Canada for your spouse (i.e. husband or wife), common-law or conjugal partner.

A SPOUSE is your partner to whom you are legally married. You can be married to a person of opposite or the same gender.

For marriages that took place outside Canada, it is required that such marriage is valid both under the laws of the country, state, or province where it took place and under the Canadian law.

Examples of marriages that are not acceptable under the Canadian law:

  • spouse is under the age of 18
  • either the sponsor or the spouse were in marriage with someone else when the new marriage was concluded (i.e. bigamy or polygamy)
  • the sponsor and the sponsored spouse have been separated for at least one year and one of them or both are in a common-law relationship with someone else
  • marriages conducted by a proxy, without physical presence of one or both partners at the ceremony (exceptions apply to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces)
  • marriages of convenience
  • a family member (i.e. spouse) was not declared in sponsor’s own prior permanent residence application

Example: Juan immigrated to Canada as a permanent resident in 2018. In his permanent residence application, he did not declare that was married to Veronica. He thought his application was going to be processed faster. Now, he would like to bring Veronica to join him in Canada. Unfortunately, he will not be able to do that as Veronica was not declared and examined in Juan’s original PR application. Juan also risks losing his own permanent residence status because of misrepresentation (i.e. did not say the truth).

A COMMON-LAW PARTNER is someone who you have cohabitated with (i.e. lived) in a conjugal (i.e. marriage-like) relationship continuously for at least one year. You can be in a common-law relationship with a person of opposite or the same gender.

Only short-term interruptions to the continuous cohabitation are permitted during the first year of the relationship. After one year of cohabitation, longer separation is permitted. In other words, even if you are physically separated for a longer period of time, you will still be considered being common-law partners.

Example: John is a Canadian citizen who lived for four years in the Philippines for a work assignment. While working abroad, John met Jasmine, a national of the Philippines. As their relationship became more serious, they rented an apartment and lived together for over 1 year. About 6 months ago, John’s company required him to come back to Canada. Jasmina has been unable to obtain visitor visa to accompany John to Canada. Since they lived together for over one year in a marriage-like relationship, John will be able to sponsor Jasmina for permanent residence, even though there has been an interruption to their cohabitation for about 6 months.

IMPORTANT

Common-law partners must provide proof of the cohabitation and show that they have combined their affairs in the fashion similar to a marriage. See also relationships of convenience.

A COJUGAL PARTNER is someone who resides exclusively outside Canada and with whom you have been in a relationship for at least 12 months. A significant barrier must exist that does not allow you to live together. It can be an immigration barrier, religious reasons, or sexual orientation.

What are relationships/marriages of convenience

If the sponsor entered into a marriage or a common-law partnership primarily to obtain an immigration status in Canada for his/her partner, such relationships are not considered genuine. They are called: common-law relationships or marriages of convenience.

Example: Mike marries Isabella who is the daughter of the Airbnb owner where he stayed while on vacation overseas. He marries Isabella only to help her and her young daughter get a better life in Canada. This is a marriage of convenience.

Generally, IRCC officers suspect relationships or marriages of convenience when insufficient documentation is provided to document the relationship of a couple who are married or in a common-law relationship.

Couples who married shortly after they had met are often required to provide additional information to clear any doubts whether their relationship is genuine.

Similarly, sponsors and spouses who had been in multiple prior relationships may be suspected of a fraud.

Sponsors, spouses/common-law partners may be invited separately to an in-person interview with an IRCC officer to address any concerns.

According to IRCC statistics, marriage of convenience was the most frequently observed type of fraud by 78% of Canada’s visa offices.

IMPORTANT

“A well-prepared Spousal Sponsorship Canada application should not require an in-person interview with an IRCC officer. It is essential to address all potential issues prior to the submission”

What Are The Requirements For The Sponsor

In order to sponsor your spouse to Canada, you will need to meet several key requirements.

You must be:

  1. Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or Status Indian
  2. at least 18 years of age
  • you became a permanent resident after being sponsored as a spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner in the past five years.
  • you have submitted a different application for sponsorship of a family member, on which a final decision has not been made yet.
  • you are receiving social assistance other than due to disability.
  • you are an undischarged bankrupt under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.
  • you sponsored, in the past, family members who received social assistance during the validity of your undertaking towards them.
  • you co-signed, in the past, an application for sponsorship of family members who received social assistance during the validity of your undertaking towards them.
  • you have been ordered to leave Canada.
  • you are late in making a required payment on an immigration loan, a performance bond, or any other amounts you agreed to pay under Canadian immigration legislation and have not made arrangements to defer payments.
  • you are currently detained in jail, prison, penitentiary or reformatory.
  • you have been convinced of a sexual offence or serious violent offence against anyone, or an offence causing bodily harm against someone who is or was related to you or attempted to commit such an offence.
  • you are in default of a court order to make support payments to your spouse, former spouse, common-law partner, former common-law partner, or child.
  • your Canadian citizenship is reviewed for possible revocation.
  • you are potentially inadmissible to Canada.
  • you have been charged with on offence under the Act of parliament punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years.

What are the requirements for the person sponsored (i.e. foreign spouse/common-law partner)

Apart from the requirement to be in a genuine relationship, a foreign national (e.g. spouse or commo-law partner) must meet the below requirements in order to be eligible for spousal sponsorship to Canada.

A foreign national and his family members (i.e. dependent children) must:

  • not be the subject of removal from Canada (if in Canada) for reasons other than ‘lack of status.’
  • meet admissibility criteria, such as criminality. However, they are exempt from inadmissibility on health grounds due to excessive demand on health and social services.
  • have a valid passport or other travel document prior to the grant of permanent residence

Lack of Status

Foreign spouses and common-law partners who are living in Canada but do not have a legal temporary status (i.e. visitor, worker, or student), may still be sponsored under the Spousal Sponsorship In-Canada Class.

Who else can be sponsored as part of the spousal sponsorship application (Dependent Children)

requirement to sponsor a spouse to canada

Sponsors who are married, in a common-law, or conjugal relationship with a foreign national who has dependent children of his or her own, may sponsor these children to Canada.

A DEPENDENT CHILD must be under 22 year of age and not married or in a common-law partnership.

Older children of the foreign partner may be sponsored only if they depended on their parents since before they reached the age of 22 and at the same time are unable to support themselves due to a mental or physical condition.

All dependent children have to be declared in your Spousal Sponsorship to Canada application, even if they are not accompanying. In other words, they must be declared in the application even if they are in sole custody of the other parent and will be staying outside Canada.

NOTE: that if the foreign spouse or common-law partner has a dependent child who has dependent children of his/her own, the sponsor will have to meet the minimum income requirement to sponsor them to Canada. See low-income-cut-off (LICO) below.

Example: The sponsor marries a foreign national who has a 17-year-old daughter who has a 1-year-old child. All three family members can be sponsored for permanent residence in Canada. The sponsor will, however, have to meet the LICO requirement.

Low Income Cut-Off (LICO)

Size of Family Unit

Minimum necessary income

1 person (the sponsor)

$25,921

2 persons 

$32,270

3 persons 

$39,672

4 persons

$48,167

5 persons

$54,630

6 persons

$61,613

7 persons

$68,598

More than 7 persons, for each additional person, add

$6,985

When to apply from outside Canada

There several situations when you MUST submit an application for a Spousal Sponsorship Outside Canada. At the same time, there are a couple situations when you can CHOOSE to apply from outside Canada. And there are good reasons for it.

Let’s first discuss situations when you MUST apply from outside Canada:

  1. The first situation applies to Conjugal Partner Sponsorship Canada. By definition, a Conjugal Partner is someone who the sponsor is not able to live with in his/her home country or in Canada. The barriers to the cohabitation must be very serious. Also, the sponsor and the foreign national are not able to get married or live in a common-law relationship. Since the foreign national cannot come and visit in Canada, the application will always have to be applied for as Spousal Sponsorship Outside Canada.
  2. Even if the sponsor is married or in a common-law relationship with a foreign national, it may happen that the foreign partner is not able to come as a visitor to Canada (visa required and not granted). In such situations, the sponsor must apply for a Spousal Sponsorship Outside Canada.
  3. If the sponsor and the foreign spouse or common-law partner live together in a foreign country, and they do not intend to travel to Canada until the application is approved, the sponsor must apply for a Spousal Sponsorship Outside Canada.

There are also situations when you can CHOOSE to apply from outside Canada:

  1. A foreign spouse or common-law partner may live in Canada as a temporary resident (visitor, student, or worker), however, he or she does not plan to stay in Canada while the sponsorship application is being processed. He/She may need to travel for work or other obligations. In such case, it may be advisable to apply from outside Canada. The reason is simple, if the foreign spouse or common-law partner is not allowed to re-enter Canada, he/she would have to withdraw the In-Canada Class sponsorship application and re-apply from outside Canada. This would mean a loss of precious time.
  2. Some applicants choose to apply for a Spousal Sponsorship Outside Canada if they want to benefit from faster processing times. A properly completed Spousal Sponsorship Outside Canada application is often processed under the stated 12 months (in some cases 3-6 months). If the foreign spouse or common-law partner has a valid status in Canada for a sufficiently long time or has an ability to extend the status, he or she may choose this route instead.
  3. Finally, applicants may choose to apply for a Spousal Sponsorship Outside Canada if they want to have the ability to appeal a potential refusal of the sponsorship application. This possibility does not exist for In-Canada Class sponsorship applications.

When to apply from inside Canada

Spousal Sponsorship Inside Canada application can be submitted only when both the sponsor and the foreign spouse or common-law partner are residing in Canada.

IMPORTANT:

The foreign spouses who do not have a legal status in Canada (i.e. visitor, worker, or student) can still become a permanent resident through the In-Canada application, however, there must not be any other inadmissibility issues (e.g. criminality).

Example: Nicole worked in Canada as a temporary foreign worker for two years. Her last work permit extension was refused because she did not have an LMIA. She no longer has any status in Canada. She has also been in a common-law relationship with a permanent resident of Canada for the past 14 months. She has no other inadmissibility issues and therefore she can apply with her sponsor for a Spousal Sponsorship Inside Canada.

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