Spousal Sponsorship Canada - Comprehensive Guide

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Spousal Sponsorship Canada - Comprehensive Guide

Your Immigration Consultant for Canada

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Spousal Sponsorship allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their partner to live permanently in Canada.  Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recognizes family reunification as one of the pillars of Canadian immigration and has made it a priority in their strategy for 2024 and beyond. Here is a comprehensive guide to Spousal Sponsorship Canada, covering the most important aspects of determining your eligibility and ensuring success with your application.

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    Who Can be a Sponsor for Spousal Sponsorship?

    In order to sponsor your spouse (wife, husband, or common-law partner) for Canada immigration, the basic requirements are:

    • You are at least 18 years old
    • You are a Canadian citizen, living in Canada or abroad, or
    • You are a Canadian permanent resident, living in Canada, and
    • You are able to financially support yourself and your spouse, and any additional dependents that you have
    • You are in a qualifying relationship, either legally married, in a common-law relationship, or in a conjugal relationship

    If you aren't yet a permanent resident, you will first need to obtain PR status.  If you are in this situation, contact us for advice and assistance with becoming a permanent resident.

    Eligible Relationships for Spousal Sponsorship: Spouse, Common-Law Partner and Conjugal Partner

    Spouse:

    To qualify as a spouse, you must be legally married to your partner. The marriage must be legally recognized in the jurisdiction where it took place, and must have been done in-person. The primary document used to prove this relationship type is a marriage certificate.

    Common-Law Partner:

    To qualify as a common-law partner, you have to have lived with your partner for at least one year in a marriage-like relationship. Proving a common-law partner relationship generally requires proof of living together, such as a lease agreement or proof joint ownership of property.

    Conjugal Partner: 

    To qualify as a conjugal partner, you have to prove that you are in a marriage-like relationship, but there are significant factors beyond your control that prevent you from either being legal spouses, or living as common-law partners. 

    Why You May Not Be Eligible for Spousal Sponsorship

    There are certain situations which prevent someone from sponsoring their spouse for Canada immigration, or could lead to a refusal of a submitted application. You may not be able to sponsor a husband, wife, or common-law partner if:

    • You previously sponsored a spouse to Canada, and it has not yet been three years since they became a permanent resident
    • You have an existing sponsorship application that has not yet received a decision
    • You were previously sponsored by a spouse, and it has been less than 5 years since you became a permanent resident
    • You previously sponsored a spouse who used social assistance, and you have not yet paid it back to the Canadian government
    • You are in default of an immigration loan, or you have not paid court-ordered alimony or child support
    • You have declared bankruptcy and have not yet been discharged
    • You are currently in prison or jail, or if you are a permanent resident and under a removal order
    • You have a criminal record involving a violent crime, specifically against a relative or partner 

    How Long Does it Take for Spousal Sponsorship Canada?

    The average processing time for spousal sponsorship to Canada is around 12 months. Processing times can vary from as little as 5 months to up to 24 months. Fortunately, in 2023 we observed a decrease in overall processing times and most of our clients were processed within 8 months. Nonetheless, processing times cannot be guaranteed. 

    Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) provides general estimates on processing times which are updated each week, but actual processing times can vary widely. The best way to ensure a quick processing time is to make sure your spousal sponsorship package is complete, and is prepared to address any potential concerns of an immigration officer. The Canadian Immigration Consultants at My Visa Partner can help you prepare a strong spousal sponsorship package that will maximise your chance for success and a speedy approval.

    Inland versus Outland Spousal Sponsorship

    There are two main streams for Spousal Sponsorship in Canada: outland sponsorship and inland sponsorship

    If your spouse lives outside Canada, or plans to travel outside Canada during processing of the application, you should sponsor them under the outland sponsorship stream. The application will therefore be processed by the visa office responsible for their country of residence. Your spouse may still be able to join you in Canada before the approval of the permanent residence application if they obtain a Visitor Visa for Canada. 

    If you and your spouse already live in Canada, you can sponsor them under the inland sponsorship stream. The application will therefore be processed inside Canada. A main benefit of inland sponsorship is that your spouse can also apply for a Spousal Open Work Permit which allows them to work while their permanent residence application is processed. A downside of inland sponsorship is your spouse will not have the right to make an appeal if the application is refused - this right is only given if you make an outland sponsorship application. 

    What is the Minimum Income Required for Spousal Sponsorship?

    There is no minimum income that is required for Canada Spousal Sponsorship. However, in order to sponsor your spouse you need to demonstrate that you can financially support yourself and them once they become a permanent resident. You also need to sign an undertaking, in which you promise to provide financial support to meet your spouse’s basic needs for at least 3 years.

    Showing proof of employment is the best way for a sponsor to show they meet the financial requirements for spousal sponsorship. If you are not employed, you can still prove your ability to support them by showing that you have sufficient savings (by showing bank statements), assets (such as a house), or other forms of income.

    Proving a Genuine Relationship for Spousal Sponsorship

    Proving that you have a genuine relationship is an essential part of Canada Spousal Sponsorship. The main requirements for proof of relationship include:

    For married spouses: The marriage certificate, and documentation to prove that the wedding took place.

    For common-law partners: Proof that you are living together, and have been doing so for at least one year prior to making the application.

    In all spousal sponsorship cases, you have to demonstrate that you live in a genuine, marriage-like relationship. This includes that you have genuine feelings for each other, that you are financially interdependent, and that you have the desire to live a shared life together. The documentation that will be required depends on the circumstances of your relationship. In general you will need to include photographs of important moments in your relationship, government and official documents that show that the relationship is recognized, proof of correspondence with each other, and proof that the relationship is recognized by friends and family.

    There are some ‘red flags’ which may cause an officer to look more closely at the genuineness of your relationship. Red flags may include:

    • You and your spouse have a large age gap
    • You and your spouse have a different religion
    • You and your spouse have a different social or economic status
    • You have not met your spouse in person, or the relationship started a short time ago

    If any of these situations apply to you, it does not mean you are ineligible for spousal sponsorship. However, it is important to provide sufficient documentation and explanations in your application to address the potential concerns of a visa officer when they are assessing whether your relationship is genuine.

    Do I need a Lawyer or Canadian Immigration Consultant for Spousal Sponsorship?

    Sponsors and applicants have the option to prepare and submit an application by themselves, or to do so with the help of a Canadian lawyer or a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC).

    Sponsors and applicants who can interpret laws and regulations, speak English well, have the necessary free time, and have a straightforward case, may find self-representation to work for them.  Some reasons that people choose to work with a representative are:

    Saving valuable time: Self-representing requires numerous hours of research, as rules and regulations are complex, and government guides don't provide full guidance for all situations. A good representative knows what to do, and when to do it, based on their past experience and training.

    Reducing stress: Self-representing can lead to many late nights of reading message boards and watching Youtube guides, without being sure of what is good advice and what is bad. Using a representative you trust can help you relax, as they will tell you exactly what needs to be done for your case to be successful.

    Avoiding problems and delays: There are many potential problems that can arise from small mistakes. Missing just one signature, or one page of a document can lead to the refusal and return of your application. If your application is weak in a particular area, your application processing may be put hold while more documentation is requested or you are required to attend an interview. A professionally prepared application can avoid these pitfalls.

    The Canadian Immigration Consultants at My Visa Partner are experts in Canadian Spousal Sponsorship, and can advise and support you on all aspects of sponsorship application.

    Spousal Sponsorship Canada | Frequently Asked Questions

    Yes. In fact, starting in November 2022, all spousal sponsorship applications must be completed online. It is no longer possible to submit a paper application.

    Yes. There is no minimum income or employment requirement for spousal sponsorship. However, you still need to demonstrate that you can financially support them once they arrive in Canada.

    In most cases, there are no interviews required for a spousal sponsorship. However, if immigration officers are not able to verify your eligibility with your documents alone, they may require the sponsored person to attend an interview. 

    Canada does not have a "fiancé" visa category like the United States, so it is quite difficult to sponsor a spouse if you are not already married or in a common-law relationship. Furthermore, it is hard to get a visa solely for the purpose of getting married.

    It is possible to sponsor your partner, without being married or in a common-law relationship, under the Conjugal Partner category. 

    To be successful under this stream, you need to demonstrate that there are significant social or cultural barriers which prevent you from either marrying or living together as common-law partners. 

    In many cases it is advisable to get married, or establish a common-law relationship before getting started, rather than to attempt a Conjugal Partner sponsorship.

    You are not required to use a lawyer or an immigration consultant for your application. Using an experienced representative, however, can save you time, reduce stress, and avoid problems and delays.

    If you are an international student in Canada, you will not be eligible for spousal sponsorship until you have obtained permanent residency. However, your spouse can apply for a visa join you in Canada as a temporary resident, and in some cases, also apply for a spousal open work permit.

    Yes. If you have previously sponsored a spouse to Canada, you can sponsor your new spouse, provided three years have past since they became a permanent resident.

    Definitely not! Marrying a Canadian does not automatically grant permanent residency to the spouse. It is always necessary to meet the requirements and make a spousal sponsorship application.

    Permanent residence applications take time - 12 months on average. The fastest way to bring a spouse to Canada would be to apply for a temporary resident visa, which can be processed in as little as 2 weeks. Visas for spouses or romantic partners are challenging and entail a high risk of refusal. You are strongly recommended to get professional advice before making this type of visa application.

    Learn More About  Spousal Sponsorship: My Visa Partner's News and In-Depth Guides

    Processing Times for Spousal Sponsorship

    How long is the processing time for spousal sponsorship? For most applicants, the full spousal sponsorship process takes 10-12 months, which is in line with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship’s (IRCC) stated service standard. Processing time varies widely, however, due to the type of application, the visa office processing it, and individual factors of the application. […]

    Red Flags in Spousal Sponsorship

    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 […]

    Conjugal Partner Sponsorship

    What is Conjugal Partner Sponsorship? Conjugal partner sponsorship is one of the three recognized relationship types for spousal sponsorship recognized by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), alongside spousal and common-law sponsorship. It refers to an exclusive, marriage-like relationship of at least 12 months, where due to cultural, social, or legal barriers, legally marrying or […]

    Genuine Relationships for Spousal Sponsorship

    What is A Genuine Relationship for Spousal Sponsorship? It is imperative to prove that you have a genuine relationship when applying for spousal sponsorship in Canada. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) aims to protect the integrity of Canada’s immigration system and to ensure that the sponsorship program serves its intended purpose of reuniting families. […]

    How to make a Spousal Sponsorship Appeal

    How to Make an Appeal of 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). If the refusal was due to missed documentation, an error on your part, […]

    Refused Spousal Sponsorship

    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, […]

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