Red Flags in Spousal Sponsorship

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    What are Red Flags for a Spousal Sponsorship Application?

    ‘Red Flags’ are certain factors in a spousal sponsorship application that may cause an officer at Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to look more closely at the genuineness of the relationship. If any of these situations apply to you but you still meet the main eligibility requirements for sponsorship, your application will not necessarily be refused. However, it is necessary to provide sufficient documentation and explanation in your application to address the potential concerns of IRCC when they are assessing whether your relationship is genuine and not entered into only for the purpose of obtaining permanent residence.

    What are the Most Common Red Flags for  Spousal Sponsorship?

    While there is no exhaustive list of red flags as each case is unique, here are the most common factors that might raise concerns during the assessment:

    Large Age Gap

    Significant age differences between the sponsor and the sponsored person might attract special attention. While age differences are not inherently problematic, they may raise questions about the authenticity of the relationship. IRCC is concerned about the potential for exploitation, especially if one spouse is significantly older and the other significantly younger. They want to ensure that the relationship is based on mutual consent and genuine emotional commitment, rather than one party taking advantage of the other for immigration benefits.

    Cultural or Religious Differences

    When the sponsor and sponsored person come from different religions or cultural backgrounds, IRCC may scrutinize the genuineness of the relationship to root out immigration fraud. This is more likely to happen if the couple is from a country where marrying outside of your own religious group is not typical. To do this IRCC may  verify that the couple has a solid understanding of each other's religious or cultural nuances, values, and traditions. 

    A Language Barrier

    IRCC may become suspicious when the sponsor and sponsored person don’t share a common language. This could lead to scrutiny of the level of communication and compatibility between partners to ensure that the relationship is founded on mutual understanding and genuine commitment rather than the sponsored person’s path to permanent residency. 

    Difference in Social or Economic Status

    IRCC may scrutinize cases where there is a notable difference in financial or social standing. The concern arises from the potential for exploitation, where one party may be perceived as leveraging the relationship for immigration benefits, particularly if the sponsored spouse appears to be solely reliant on the financial support of the sponsor.  These differences could lead to questions about the practical aspects of the relationship, such as living arrangements and shared financial responsibilities. 

    Limited History or Lack of Familiarity

    A lack of shared history, including in-person visits and joint activities, could raise doubts about the authenticity of the relationship. When such evidence is lacking, officials may question the depth and authenticity of the relationship.

    Previous Sponsorship or Immigration History

    If either the sponsor or the sponsored person has a history of previous sponsorships, immigration applications, or other interactions with IRCC, it may be scrutinized. This is especially true if the sponsored person had a recent visa or permanent residence application that was refused. 

    Inconsistencies or Contradictory Information

    Contradictory information between the forms, photos, explanation letters, and other documentation could raise questions about the credibility of the sponsor and sponsored person’s story and cause IRCC to examine more closely whether or not immigration fraud is taking place.

    How Should I Deal with Red Flags?

    If IRCC has concerns about the authenticity of the relationship they will generally send a request for further documentation and information, or invite the sponsor or sponsored person to an interview. No matter the outcome, this could significantly delay processing of the application. Not promptly addressing IRCC’s concerns at this stage could also lead to the refusal of the application.

    The best way to ensure the smooth processing of your spousal sponsorship application is to address any potential concerns up-front, and not wait for IRCC to request additional information. You should provide sufficient documentation and explanation to make clear that despite any atypical circumstances of the relationship, it is still genuine. If you aren’t sure how to address red flags in your application consider working with a lawyer or Canadian Immigration Consultant who can answer your questions, review your application, or represent you on your sponsorship before IRCC.

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