Spousal & Partner Sponsorship:
What you need to know
Common things you need to know when sponsoring your spouse or partner to Canada
As a sponsor, you are required to provide for the basic needs of the sponsored individual(s) during their stay in Canada. There are certain obligations and eligibility criteria for sponsors.
- You have to be a Canadian to be a Sponsor. That means you are either a Canadian citizen or registered as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act. You can also be a sponsor if you are a permanent resident (although there are some conditions to this)
- You need to be above the age of 18.
- You should be living in Canada at the time your sponsored spouse/partner will be in Canada. This is because as a sponsor you are obligated to provide for the basic needs of spouse/partner including living quarters. Only Canadian citizens can be living abroad while sponsoring a spouse or child. Permanent residents must be physically resident in Canada in order to sponsor.
- You will need to provide proof that you earn enough money to provide for the basic needs for your spouse/partner. You may be required to provide your financial records if you intend to sponsor a spouse/partner with a child.
- You need to sign an undertaking to promise that you will provide for your spouse/partner's basic needs.
- Quebec has specific conditions to be a sponsor, which you should find out if you live there. Some individuals have been denied as sponsors for failing to meet the eligibility criteria and for some specific conditions by Canadian immigration law.
You might NOT be able to sponsor family members for some of the following reasons:
- If it has been less than three years since you signed an undertaking letter for another sponsored family member, you will not be able to submit a new application for another relative.
- Individuals who are on social assistance, besides disability assistance, are not eligible to be sponsors.
- You cannot be a sponsor if you did not pay back any social assistance received by the sponsored relative while the undertaking you signed was still in place.
- Anyone who is bankrupt, in default of immigration loan, performance bond, court order alimony or child support cannot be a sponsor. Bad credit habits give a poor picture of your ability to provide for the basic needs of your sponsored family.
- If you have been convicted of a violent or sexual offence you may not be able to apply for sponsorship for your family members. Also if you are currently incarcerated or under a removal order, you cannot be a sponsor.
For a spouse or partner who is living outside of Canada, the process usually takes approximately one year to gain approval. The processing time is dependent on the workload that the visa or immigration office is experiencing, as well as how complete the application is. Missing or confusing information can stall the process.
There have been many fraudulent cases of “marriages of convenience” where the primary reason of the union is to obtain permanent residence status in Canada. Immigration officers must ensure that the relationship between the sponsor and their spouse/partner is genuine and not entered into for the sole purpose of immigration. The same criteria must be factored into assessing the genuineness of relationships with their respective children. Moreover, in order to properly assess the genuineness of such relationships between partners or spouses the officer in question must consider the factors that actually constitute a conjugal union; factoring in issues of child dependency and the sponsor’s contribution to such relationships if applicable.
Proving marriage is genuine
In regards to marriage, applicants must provide evidence of the marriage in question. Furthermore, if the marriage took place in a country other than Canada, then the parties involved must provide valid documentation proving that the marriage was legally recognized in the country where the marriage took place. The marriage must also be in full accordance with Canadian Federal Law to be qualified.
Proving common-law relationship is genuine
In regards to eligibility criteria for common-law partnerships, the sponsor and their common-law partner must be living together/cohabiting for at least 12 months. Interestingly, in some cases a person may be currently married to a third party but may still be considered as part of a common-law partnership. For instance, their marriage may have broken down and they may be living with a common-law partner for at least 12 months. In other words, the cohabitation with a common-law partner may have commenced after one party physically speared from their spouse. In such an event, the sponsorship officer may look for evidence of spousal separation; including a separation agreement or a court order regarding the legal custody of dependent children.
Proving conjugal relationship is genuine
In regards to a conjugal relationship, the officer must first be satisfied that a genuine conjugal relationship actually exists. In this case, the term “conjugal” refers to a relationship that is exclusive between two people. The degree of attachment must also be both emotional and physical, and must involve an enduring and mutual commitment to a shared partnership for the foreseeable future. In addition, financial and emotional inter dependency must be demonstrable in some capacity. A qualified and competent spousal sponsorship officer will always factor in the aforementioned criteria when determining the eligibility of a common-law or spousal residency application.
In the event of an annulment or divorce of a previous marriage the officer may need to confirm the validity of a foreign annulment or divorce with the suitable visa office; as divorce is illegal in certain countries.
If your sponsorship application was refused, you can submit an appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD).
Sponsorship appeals re-address the refusal of a sponsorship application by the immigration authorities in an attempt to sponsor a family member such as a spouse, partner, child or parent for permanent residence in Canada.
These appeals are heard by the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board.
The IAD is an independent administrative committee that acts like a court to review immigration department decisions, including hearing any new evidence, then deciding whether or not the decision of the immigration authorities should be overturned.
Yes! Immigration laws make it much easier for spouses of Canadian citizens or permanent residents to enter Canada than for non-spouses. You may also sponsor a common-law or conjugal partner of either gender, even if you are not married, but more evidence will be needed to support the application.
Sponsors must still meet some basic requirements, such as being a Permanent Resident or Citizen of Canada, having sufficient income or assets to support their spouse once they arrive in Canada, not being bankrupt, and not having been convicted of sex crimes or certain violent crimes.
You will need to present proof of permanent resident (PR) status or citizenship in order to sponsor a spouse. Please note that permanent residency is not automatic; it is granted by Citizenship and Immigration pending a review. One thing the immigration authorities will assess is whether they believe that the marriage or partnership is genuine, or whether it is for immigration purposes only.
If they don’t believe the relationship is for real, the immigration authorities will refuse the application. When assessing whether a marital or common-law/conjugal relationship is genuine, the visa officer who reviews the case will consider how the couple met, the development of the relationship, and the evidence of contact and communication, among other things. There is no one factor that is determinative in assessing a genuine marriage, it is really a matter of deciding whether there seems to be a real, loving, close relationship between the Canadian sponsor and the foreign spouse or partner.
Your spouse will also need to pass Medical and Criminal Background Checks. Criminal records are a common reason that spouses are denied visas. Although not every crime in every country leads to a visa denial, most do.
Medical checks will not usually lead to a permanent barrier to entry, but immigrants with contagious diseases will be denied entry unless they can present proof of good health at the time of immigration.
- You need to show that you can support your Spouse
Since it is difficult to find a job when a person first arrives in Canada, you will need to prove that you can provide basic needs like food and housing for your spouse. Although the government sometimes accepts a work contract as proof of income, last year’s tax return is far more likely to lead to a speedy and successful application.
- You Need to Prove He or She is Your Spouse or Common-Law Partner
This requires documents such as a marriage certificate, proof of living together, or the records of a joint bank account. You may need to contact foreign governments to obtain relevant documents.
- If You Live in Quebec, You Need to Meet Quebec Requirements
Quebec uses a different legal system from the rest of Canada and has provincial requirements, in addition to federal ones, for immigrants. You will need to apply for a Quebec selection certificate. Selection certificates have many of the same requirements as federal government sponsorship applications, but also require you and your spouse to affirm your belief in Quebec’s official values.
It is common for the immigration authorities to deny a visitor visa to the spouse/partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. The reason for this is that the immigration authorities do not consider spouses/partners to be genuine visitors, rather they see them as people who are likely to want to remain in Canada permanently. Since remaining permanently is inconsistent with being a true visitor, who would be expected to leave Canada after a short time, they visa will be denied.
It can be very difficult to persuade the immigration authorities that the foreign spouse/partner will leave Canada at the end of their visit, but if you want to try then proof of a home and a job to return to in the foreign country might be persuasive.
If your spouse/partner's visiting visa or sponsorship is refused, you can try re-applying with additional evidence, but it might be hopeless. Instead of wasting time, it may be preferable simply to sponsor your foreign spouse/partner for permanent residence directly.
Re-applying will have the best chance of success if your spouse/partner has a significantly new situation or new information that was not included in his or her initial application. Look at his or her refusal letter to find out the specific reasons the application was denied. That will be a good starting point for figuring out how to strengthen the new application.
- If they indicate that your spouse/partner failed to demonstrate that he or she has enough money to support themselves in Canada, try to think if there were any sources of money that you forgot to mention in the initial application. Have you gotten a raise since then? Your income can support him or her.
- Another common reason for refusal is that your spouse/partner did not have sufficient ties to his or her country. The immigration officer needs to be convinced that your spouse/partner will return to his or her country of origin after the Visa expires.
The best preventative tactic against immigration application refusals is prevention. Always ensure that your sponsorship application is correctly filled out and well-documented before you submit it.
Sponsorship applications can be very complex depending on your unique situation. You may not be able to sponsor someone who has been charged or convicted of a criminal offense. In fact, your spouse can be declared inadmissible to Canada due to a criminal record. Once someone is considered inadmissible to Canada, they cannot legally enter the country unless they obtain proper authorization.
To understand the situation that your spouse could be in, let’s go over the three types of offenses that exist in Canada.
- Summary offenses: These offenses are less serious and could lead to either 6 months imprisonment or a fine of up to $5,000.
- Indictable offenses: These are serious offenses such as robbery with violence, theft over $5000, assault, and sexual assault. Individuals who commit these offenses usually get maximum penalties and long sentences such as life imprisonment.
- Hybrid offenses: In this case, the crown counsel will decide how the offense will be handled. It could be handled as a summary or indictable offense. In immigration law, any hybrid offence will automatically be considered indictable for purposes of assessing admissibility.
Therefore, identifying the type of offense and the section of the law where it falls can help determine if your sponsorship application has a high likelihood of success.
Under section 36(2)(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, a foreign national is inadmissible to Canada if they have been convicted of an indictable offence or two summary offences in Canada.
Other sections make similar provisions for those convicted of crimes in foreign countries. A foreign national can also be found inadmissible for committing a “criminal act”, even if they have not been convicted of a crime. These broad provisions mean that most criminal convictions or actions will result in a foreign national being criminally inadmissible to Canada.
If you apply to sponsor your spouse and your spouse is found to be inadmissible to Canada based on criminal grounds, you may be able to overcome this by appealing the decision to the Immigration Appeal Division. The Appeal Division has the jurisdiction to grant the appeal on humanitarian and compassionate grounds even if the spouse is criminally inadmissible.
Immigration appeals are very complex legal situations that should only be handled by a reliable and experienced immigration lawyer. It requires in-depth knowledge of Canada’s criminal law to overcome the inadmissibility which is why you must seek the best legal representation.
If you are a Canadian citizen and your spouse is not, their ability to work in the country will depend on their immigration status. If your spouse is a permanent resident of Canada, he/she is allowed to work in the country. Your spouse may have visited Canada with a temporary resident visa (visitor visa). In this case, he/she is required to apply for a work permit in order to be employed in Canada.
Generally speaking, to apply for a work permit from inside Canada your spouse must:
- Have applied for a permanent residence under the in-Canada spousal sponsorship category or
- Be eligible to apply under the Labour Market Impact Assessment process which allows Canadian employers to hire foreign workers
Applying for open work permit
An open work permit is a permit that is not job-specific. A work permit issued to spouses of Canadians applying for permanent residence under the in-Canada spousal sponsorship category is an open work permit that will allow the spouse to work for any employer. However, most work permits, including those obtained through the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process, are employer specific.
You can apply for a work permit online through the IRCC website. You may be asked questions such as your nationality, age, work experience, income, net worth and details on the job offer. A few questions that you may be asked to determine if you are eligible to apply for a work permit include:
- What would you like to do in Canada?
- How long are you planning to stay in Canada?
- Which country issues your passport?
- Which country do you reside in?
- Do you have a family member who is a Canadian citizen?
- Is the family member 18 years or older?
- What’s your date of birth?
- Have you received a job offer from a Canadian employer?
After answering these questions, you will then be told which programs you are eligible to apply for based on your answers.
The other option is to apply on paper. Make sure you answer all the questions carefully, truthfully and completely. Submitting the application on your own can lead to mistakes which could cause your application to be delayed or rejected.
» Contact us to ensure this process goes smoothly for you and your spouse/partner
Sponsoring your spouse/partner for Canadian residency means meeting a number of application and payment requirements. But if you’re wondering if there are any other financial requirements related to income, then the following will help you prepare yourself to ensure quick and easy processing.
Contrary to what most people think, there is no specific income that’s required of you as the sponsor. The requirement to show a certain level of income only applies to parental or grandparent sponsorship applications. However, the immigration authorities will want to see that the sponsor has the financial capacity to support their spouse/partner once he/she arrives in Canada. To that end, the sponsor should be employed and have enough income to reasonably support two people, or should have savings or assets to enable them to support their spouse/partner.
Although there are requirements when sponsoring other family members, you will not need to qualify in the same way to sponsor your spouse/partner.
Outside of income requirements, there are a couple of financial qualifications that you will need to meet.
- Sponsor must not be bankrupt
- Previous bankruptcy must be discharged
- Sponsor cannot be receiving welfare benefits
These must be met when you apply to sponsor your spouse/partner. There is no time period that you must wait before you apply. As soon as your bankruptcy has been discharged, or you stop receiving welfare benefits, you are free to apply.
Remember that disability and employment benefits do not fall under welfare, and therefore can be maintained when you apply for sponsorship.
Note that having bad credit will not impede your ability to sponsor. The immigration authorities will not do a credit check nor do they need a credit card from you to process your application. As long as you are not bankrupt you can still sponsor despite your credit rating.
You should also be aware of the various government fees involved in the sponsorship application process.
Sponsors will have to pay a fee of $75, while the applicant will need to pay a $475 fee. These fees need to be paid at the time the application is filed. Also, a fee of $500 for the Right of Permanent Residence will also be required once the immigration authorities are ready to finalize the application. This makes the total fee to sponsor your spouse or partner to be $1,050 CAD. It’s recommended that this be paid with you initial application to speed up the processing time.
These fees can be paid online using a credit card, valid email address, and printer to print your receipt. Online payments are preferred and can also help speed the process along. You can also pay the fees at a bank and attach a receipt to your application.
Having all of the financial information you need, along with the right documents, will ensure that your application is processed quickly and without issue. You and your spouse/partner will be able to file your application while having the peace of mind that you’ve met all of the requirements for sponsorship.
The dependent children of the spouse or partner must be added to the sponsorship application and, if accompanying, will obtain permanent residence at the same time as their parent.
Any child under the age of 22 and unmarried is considered to be a dependent. Non-accompanying children must also be added to the application and examined, including attending medical examinations, in case the spouse or partner wants to sponsor them later after obtaining permanent residence.
It should be noted that if one of the parents of the dependent child is a Canadian citizen, or if the child was born in Canada, in most cases the child will automatically be considered a Canadian citizen and need not be sponsored.
See if you qualify
If our assessment indicates that you are qualified as a sponsor, we will contact you within one business day and provide further information to help you start the process!
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