Why would a spousal sponsorship application be refused?
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) often rejects spousal sponsorship applications due to incomplete submissions, which results in a refusal to process and the return of the application. An application can be considered incomplete if essential forms or documents, such as marriage certificates, birth certificates, police certificates, or other proof of the relationship, are missing. A common reason for refusal and return of spousal sponsorship applications is missing or incorrectly formatted signatures on the forms.
Another cause for refusal is the Canadian sponsor's failure to meet the minimum requirements for spousal sponsorship. To qualify as a sponsor, you must be at least 18 years old and either be a Canadian citizen, residing in Canada or abroad, or a Canadian permanent resident residing in Canada. You must have the ability to financially support yourself, your spouse, and any additional dependents you may have.
The sponsored person (the applicant) may also also be refused if they do not meet the basic requirements for sponsorship, namely that they are in a qualifying relationship with the sponsor (either being legally married, in a common-law relationship, or in a conjugal relationship). IRCC will refuse the application if they are not satisfied that there is a genuine relationship, and they suspect it is a “marriage of convenience” meaning one that was entered into primarily for the purposes of obtaining permanent residence status. IRCC’s concerns are more likely if there are certain red flags in the relationship such as large differences in age, education, or economic status between the partners.
Regardless of the details of the relationship, if the sponsored person is found to be inadmissible to Canada (for example if they have a criminal record, do not pass the security screening, or have a health issue that may be a danger to public safety, they could be denied permanent residency on these grounds.
What are the most common reasons for refusal of a spousal sponsorship application?
The most common reasons for refused spousal sponsorship application are:
1. An Incomplete Application
If your application is missing essential documents such as birth certificates, police certificates, or supporting documentation, IRCC will not provide you the opportunity to submit these items later. Instead, they will refuse to process and send the application back.
2. Problems with the Forms
IRCC’s forms for spousal sponsorship are frequently updated, and submitting an outdated form can lead to a refusal and return of the application, as will missing or incorrectly formatted signatures
3. Marriage of Convenience Suspicions
If IRCC suspects that your relationship was entered into primarily for immigration purposes, or if they suspect that fraud is occurring, they will refuse the application. IRCC may be more suspicious of this in particular countries where immigration fraud is more prevalent.
4. Unconvincing Proof of Relationship Documentation
The burden is on the sponsor and applicant to demonstrate that they have a genuine relationship, If an officer is not satisfied with the documentation provided they will refuse the application.
What can I do if my spousal sponsorship application was refused?
If your spousal sponsorship application was refused, you are allowed to submit a new application. In most cases, submitting a new application that addresses the initial refusal reasons is the best response to a refusal.
For this process it is crucial that you first fully understand the refusal reasons, so you are able to address them directly in the new application. Our advice for submitting a new application after a refusal is:
1. Understand the refusal letter
Carefully go through the refusal letter to understand the specific reasons for the refusal. This information is crucial for addressing the deficiencies in the new application. If needed, request the officer’s detailed refusal reasons through an Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) request.
2. Address Deficiencies
If the refusal was due to missing or inadequate documentation, ensure that you provide all the required documents in the new application. If there are issues with eligibility criteria, take the time and steps needed to ensure you qualify before submitting your new application, and ensure there is sufficient documentation to make your case.
3. Provide Additional Evidence and Explanation
If the refusal was based on insufficient proof of a genuine relationship, provide additional and more compelling evidence to demonstrate the authenticity of your relationship. A well-written explanation letter, alongside sufficient documentation, can help to overcome a refusal.
4. Submit a Complete Application
Ensure that the new application is complete and accurate in all areas - not only the area indicated in the refusal. As IRCC’s instructions are frequently updated, make sure you have the latest document checklist and forms, as they may have changed since preparing the first application.
Appealing a Refused Spousal Sponsorship Application
If your spousal sponsorship application was refused and you filed the application under the Outland Sponsorship stream, you have the right to make an appeal before the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD). There is no appeal right for the Inland Sponsorship stream. If it can be shown that the refusal was not due to an error or deficiency of the application, but was rather due to an error in fact or in law on the part of IRCC, an appeal may be a wise option.
How Can I Avoid a Refusal of my Spousal Sponsorship Application?
To maximize the chances of a successful spousal sponsorship application and prevent a refusal, we recommend that you:
1. Understand Eligibility Criteria:
Familiarize yourself with the eligibility requirements for both the sponsor and the sponsored spouse. Also ensure that your relationship meets the requirements (under either the spousal, common-law partner, or conjugal category) at the time of your submission.
2. Thoroughly Complete Application Forms
Fill out the required forms accurately and completely, and make sure all required signatures have been provided.
3. Communicate Changes
Notify IRCC of any changes in your circumstances, such as a change in address, marital status, or family members, to avoid misrepresentation and ensure accurate processing.
4. Provide Comprehensive Documentation
Provide a diverse range of documentary evidence showcasing the genuineness of your relationship. It is always safer to provide a broader range of documentation than the minimum that is required according to IRCC’s document checklist.
5. Seek Professional Advice
Whenever in doubt, consult with a lawyer or a Canadian Immigration Consultant who can answer your questions, review your application prior to submission, or represent you in the application before IRCC.