Spousal and Partner Sponsorship Immigration Lawyer Toronto, Canada

Spousal and Partner Sponsorship Canada

spousal sponsorship canada

Spousal sponsorship in Canada provides a way for Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their partner to come to the country and live here permanently. Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada are eligible to sponsor their partners so that families can be together. Canada’s immigration system recognizes the importance of spousal sponsorship, aiming to help 80,000 people immigrate to Canada each year through Spousal, Partner, and Children categories. Canada expects most of these new immigrants will be spouses or partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

There are two methods of making a sponsorship application:

  • Outland spousal sponsorship: An outland spousal sponsorship is processed where your partner resides, and you can make an appeal if your application is refused.
  • Inland spousal sponsorship: This type of sponsorship will be processed within Canada. Your partner must in most cases have a status in Canada as a visitor, student, or worker for this application. You cannot appeal the refusal of an inland spousal sponsorship.

Sponsorship process — an overview

If you are a citizen or permanent resident of Canada, you may sponsor your spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner so that they may obtain their permanent resident status in Canada. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) processes spousal sponsorship applications. When evaluating spousal sponsorships, the IRCC must approve of both the Canadian citizen or permanent resident (known as the sponsor) and the foreigner (known as the sponsored person). The IRCC will look to see that the sponsor and sponsored person can demonstrate that their relationship falls under one of the following categories:

  • Spouse: A spouse is defined as your partner in a legally recognized marriage.
  • Common-law partner: A common-law partner is defined as your partner you have lived with, in an exclusive relationship and for a specific period of time, but without being legally married.
  • Conjugal partner: A conjugal partner is defined as your partner in a committed relationship, but without being legally married or living together.

Who is eligible to sponsor?

If you want to sponsor your spouse under one of the above three categories, you may be eligible to do so as a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Canada does recognize same-sex relationships. You are eligible to sponsor your spouse if you:

  • Are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, or you are registered as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act.
  • Are at least 18 years old.
  • Can provide for the sponsored person’s financial needs for three years.
  • Do not receive social assistance, unless you have a disability.

Canadian citizens living abroad may still be eligible to sponsor their partners. However, if you are a Canadian citizen living abroad, you will need to demonstrate to the IRCC that you plan to live in Canada with your partner once your partner becomes a permanent resident.

If you are a permanent resident of Canada yourself, you must live in Canada to be eligible to apply for spousal sponsorship in Canada.

How To Sponsor A Spouse Or Partner To Canada

You can use the following steps to sponsor a partner to Canada:

  1. Do the necessary research: Find out the method and sponsorship type that suit your circumstances. Collect the necessary forms and documents.
  2. Get legal advice: Obtain the advice of an immigration lawyer on spousal sponsorship before completing the documentation.
  3. Complete the documentation: Document your relationship with your partner, complete the relevant forms, and provide corroborative documents for the details in the forms.

Who is eligible for sponsorship?

Spouses, common-law partners, and conjugal partners are all eligible for sponsorship in Canada. No matter which category your partner belongs to, the sponsored person needs to be at least 18 years old to be eligible for sponsorship.

There are certain details to keep in mind when you are determining if your partner is eligible for sponsorship, and which category applies to their application.

If you plan to sponsor a spouse, the IRCC requires the spouse of the Canadian citizen or permanent resident to be legally married to their sponsor.

Your partner may be eligible for sponsorship even if you are not legally married. However, the partner being sponsored must have lived with their sponsor for a minimum of one year in a marriage-like relationship.

IRCC will also consider a sponsorship application for a conjugal partner if the partner being sponsored is not legally married to their sponsor. Conjugal partners must also be in a relationship for a minimum of one year. A conjugal partner may reside outside of Canada to be eligible for sponsorship, and they may be unable to marry their sponsor. The IRCC recognizes various reasons why conjugal partners may not be able to legally marry, including cultural, legal, or religious reasons.

There is no specific length of time or legal documentation that definitively solidifies your commitment to your partner in either a common-law or conjugal relationship. Immigration officers will instead expect to see evidence of a serious, committed relationship with significant interpersonal and emotional ties. Immigration officers will also look for evidence that you intend to remain in the relationship for the long term.

Spousal Sponsorship Applications

Spousal sponsorship applications to or in Canada can be very straightforward or exceedingly complex to present to an immigration officer, depending on the relationship. Here are some factors to keep in mind with regards to spousal sponsorship applications in Canada:

  • The Immigration department currently (*as of 2018) restricts some of the evidence that can be presented in support of these applications. For example, 20 photographs are the maximum that can be submitted when filing spousal or spousal-like applications for permanent residence. This makes selecting the photographs to be submitted an important task. Other questions to determine are whether staged photos are useful and whether the photos reveal a couple look comfortable with each other and their friends/family.
  • Some officers may refuse a sponsorship application based on incomplete or badly prepared forms, but this is rare; the more likely scenario would be to invite the applicant for an interview with a visa or immigration officer to discuss the forms and the relationship. Accurate spousal sponsorship forms, documenting the relationship, and documents that corroborate what is in the forms help avoid an interview.
  • Every spousal relationship is unique. One unusual fact (e.g. A delay between when someone was married and when a sponsorship was filed) may not need an explanation or maybe deemed insignificant in the face of the rest of the information an immigration officer assesses. However, more than one unusual fact may compel an officer to interview the candidate for permanent residence, thus leading to more intense scrutiny. The failure to provide cogent answers at an interview may lead to the refusal of the application. Consulting a lawyer would be advisable in the case of an interview being convoked.
  • Ongoing proof of a marriage relationship such as travelling  (when feasible), or evidence consistent electronic contact between the Canadian sponsor and the applicant may be deemed necessary for an application to proceed with less delay.

Sponsoring An Undeclared Spouse Or Relative

Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations state that a person’s failure to declare or have examined a spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner or dependent child while going through their visa process excludes said spouse or relative from later being sponsored under the family class sponsorship rules, which are more lenient. 

The rule is intended to discourage applicants from not declaring family members or spouses out of fear that it could affect their own visa or permanent residence application. Subsection 117(9)(d) could apply, for example, to a person who was sponsored by a spouse, but failed to declare or have examined a close family member such as a child. It could also apply to someone who got married shortly before receiving their Canadian permanent resident status, but failed to inform Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

A pilot project, launched in late 2019, opens the doors for sponsorship applications to be filled for previously undeclared or unexamined family members, as long as they were not made ineligible or inadmissible for immigration to Canada. 

Under this program, immigrants—and refugees—can now file inland spousal sponsorship applications for previously undeclared family members and possibly benefit from an exemption to 117(9)(d). Each situation is considered on its own merits, giving sponsors a chance to explain the specifics of their situation with the hopes that it could lead to the approval of their application.

Chaudary Law can help sponsors assess their case and navigate the process of sponsoring an undeclared spouse or relative. For more information on spousal sponsorship application forms and requirements, check out our blog article on what to do if you did not declare a spouse under 117(9)(d).

What are some reasons that your application may be refused?

Eligibility for spousal sponsorship in any category requires you to prove that your relationship is legitimate. Depending on the nature and category of your relationship, immigration officers will consider several factors.

Officers will look at both traditional and unique items to assess whether your relationship is genuine. This includes wedding photographs showing family members witnessing the event as well as items unique to your cultural practices. If you have an unconventional relationship, you will likely want to provide additional evidence that your relationship is genuine. This might include letters of explanation that show officers why your relationship does not have the same indicators as a traditional marriage would in your cultural background.

Keep in mind that marriage ceremonies conducted via the internet will not be accepted for Canadian immigration applications.

What Is The Role Of A Canadian Immigration Lawyer For Spousal Sponsorships?

Hiring an immigration lawyer can improve the quality of your application. An experienced lawyer can help you in choosing suitable photographs, including essential background information, or preparing for an interview.The best remedy against these concerns is proper preparation of the documents, as well as a scrutinizing of the supporting documents by an experienced Canadian immigration lawyer.

An experienced Canadian immigration lawyer can make judgment calls about:

  • spousal sponsorships forms and documentation that is intended to be submitted (example: photographs),
  • eliciting the circumstances about your relationship and provide some background in order to allay the concerns of the visa officer if the circumstances of your spousal case are similar to the types of cases that are flagged,
  • providing instruction to a person prior to an interview,
  • taking the case to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board if it is refused by a visa officer, for a spousal sponsorship appeal.

spousal immigration canada

Frequently Asked Questions About Spousal Sponsorship Applications

Where is a spousal sponsorship submitted?

  • A spousal sponsorship is submitted to the Case Processing Centre (CPC) in Mississauga or the Case Processing Centre in Sydney Nova Scotia.

How long does it take to process a spousal sponsorship application?

  • The average time is around 12 months, but it can be shorter or longer depending on the circumstances.

Do you need biometrics for a spousal sponsorship application?

  • Yes, you will need to provide biometrics (fingerprints and a current photo).

Resources On Spousal Sponsorship Law in Canada

You can use the following resources for more guidance with spousal sponsorship:

Speak with an experienced lawyer at Chaudhary Immigration Law for guidance as you put together your spousal sponsorship application.

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