What is spousal sponsorship?

Canadian spousal sponsorship is the process of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident sponsoring their partner to live  in Canada permanently.

A spousal relationship is a marital relationship. The marriage can be performed in any country and will be recognized as valid by the Canadian immigration authorities as long as it was conducted in accordance with the laws of that country and is otherwise consistent with Canadian law.

The immigration authorities will require a valid marriage certificate as proof of the spousal relationship. This is the simplest and most straight-forward type of relationship for sponsorship purposes since the marriage certificate is generally sufficient to demonstrate the legality of the spousal relationship.

Let us help you to sponsor your spouse to Canada. Here are 3 important things you must know to begin the spousal sponsorship process.

1 Requirements for Canadian sponsor

To sponsor a spouse you must:

  • be at least 18 years of age
  • reside in Canada
  • not have been themselves sponsored as a spouse within the last 5 years
  • be willing to sign a 3-year undertaking to be financially responsible for the spouse or partner once they arrive in Canada
  • not be subject to a removal order
  • not be detained in any prison
  • not have been convicted of any crime of a sexual nature
  • not have been convicted of a crime involving the use of violence punishable by more than 10 years imprisonment
  • not have been convicted of a crime involving bodily harm to a relative or partner
  • not be in default of any previous sponsorship undertaking
  • not be in default of any support payments ordered by a court
  • not be an undischarged bankrupt
  • not be in receipt of social assistance other than for a disability

2 Requirements for foreign spouse

Demonstrating genuine relationship

Demonstrate genuine relationship

One of the concerns of the immigration authorities when assessing sponsorship applications involving spouses or partners is whether the spouse or partner is in a genuine relationship with their Canadian partner or whether they are simply trying to obtain immigration status in Canada. If the immigration authorities believe the relationship not to be genuine, then they will refuse the sponsorship application.

In making their assessment of whether the relationship is genuine the immigration authorities will consider various factors such as the duration and quality of the relationship leading up to the marriage or partnership, whether the marriage was conducted in conformity with local norms, and the overall compatibility of the spouses or partners.

» More about demonstrating genuine relationship

Spouse must not have criminal conviction

Foreign Spouse must not have criminal convictions

Any criminal conviction that is or could be the equivalent of an indictable offence in Canada will in many cases permanently render a foreign national criminally inadmissible to Canada, meaning that they cannot be sponsored or otherwise enter Canada. This will apply to just about any criminal offence, including relatively minor offences such as impaired driving and shoplifting.

A foreign spouse with a criminal record can overcome this inadmissibility by obtaining a pardon or the foreign equivalent of a pardon suspending their criminal record. Another way to overcome the inadmissibility is to make an immigration application for rehabilitation if five years have passed since the day that the criminal sentence was completed. If more than ten years have passed since a single, minor conviction, then the foreign national may be deemed rehabilitated.

» What can I do if my partner has a criminal record?

Bring Your Spouse to Canada

Here's how we can help you:

  • Formulate a strategy based on your particular circumstances.
  • Collect and review supporting documentation to sufficiently establish the genuineness of your relationship.
  • Prepare you and your spouse or partner for any requested interviews.
  • Provide expert legal submissions in support of your application.
  • Communicate with the immigration authorities on your behalf to ensure you don’t miss anything, which could lead to significant delays.

If you’re looking for an immigration lawyer for spousal sponsorship, Matthew Jeffery has over 20 years of experience and specializes in handling spousal sponsorships with high success rates. To see if you qualify for spousal sponsorship, fill out our FREE Sponsorship Assessment form.

Fill Out Free Assessment

Shamil and Nino found the office of Matthew Jeffery online and booked an initial consultation with our experienced immigration lawyer.

We helped answer some of their burning questions such as the difference between applications made in and outside Canada. Shamil was concerned about her wife’s ability to work in Canada while the application was being processed. We addressed these concerns, prepared the necessary documents and filled their application in a professional, organized and thorough manner. We are happy to have helped Shamil bring Nino into Canada in a professional and smooth immigration process.

Get Professional Help

We're here to serve you

Benefits of Matthew Jeffery

How can we help?

Contact Us for Assistance

3 Submitting the sponsorship

Where will you submit the sponsorship?

Spouse or common-law partner sponsorship applications can be made either outside of Canada to a visa office abroad, or inside Canada to a local immigration office.

Submit sponsorship
in Canada

Submit sponsorship
outside Canada

In Canada spousal sponsorship

In a typical spousal or common-law sponsorship application the sponsor will remain in Canada while the person they are sponsoring will wait in their home country until their application is approved and their visa issued before they come to Canada. An exception to this rule is the in-land sponsorship category. Under this category a Canadian permanent resident or citizen may sponsor their spouse or common-law partner while they are both living together in Canada. Of course, the foreign spouse or partner will first have to enter Canada before this type of application can be made, either on the basis that they are from a visa-exempt country, or by first obtaining some kind of temporary visa. If the foreign spouse or partner is not in Canada and it is necessary for them to obtain a visitor visa to enter Canada, this may be difficult or impossible to obtain because the immigration authorities are generally resistant to granting temporary admission to the spouses or partners of Canadians, since they do not consider them to be genuine visitors, but rather see them as foreigners who are likely to want to remain in Canada permanently. If a visitor visa application is attempted but is not successful, it may be preferable simply to apply for sponsorship under the outside-Canada process, since any further visitor visa applications are likely to be refused also.

In addition to meeting the criteria of the spouse or partner sponsorship category, those applying through the in-Canada process must also cohabit during the processing of the sponsorship application. This means that the sponsor and spouse or partner must physically live together in the same premises for the duration of the sponsorship application, and the failure to do so could lead to the refusal of the application.

Foreign spouses or partners in Canada who have legal temporary status at the time of the filing of their sponsorship application may apply immediately for an open work permit to enable them to work in Canada while the sponsorship application processes. The in-Canada process is considered a type of exception category akin to a humanitarian application, and a foreign spouse or partner who is out of status in Canada or under a removal order may still be sponsored in this manner, although they will not be able to immediately obtain a work permit.

Outside Canada spousal sponsorship

The regular process of sponsoring a foreign spouse or partner is through an outside of Canada application, whereby the foreign spouse or partner remains residing in their home country or otherwise outside of Canada while the application processes, and the Canadian sponsor remains residing in Canada.

Once the application is completed, the foreign spouse or partner will be given a permanent resident visa, using which they can travel to Canada and will become permanent residents on arrival. During this process the foreign spouse may travel to Canada to visit or otherwise remain on a temporary basis, provided that they are from a visa-exempt country or are able to obtain the requisite visa. It should be noted that the Canadian immigration authorities generally do not approve visitor visa applications by foreign spouses or partners of Canadian citizens or permanent residents, as they don’t consider such individuals to be genuine visitors, since their usual intention is to remain in Canada permanently. The immigration authorities will also require the Canadian sponsor to remain residing in Canada during the process, which is to say they should remain living in Canada for the most part and should not travel for extended periods.

The exception to the requirement for the Canadian sponsor to reside in Canada is that Canadian citizens may reside abroad during the course of a sponsorship as long as they can prove that it is their intention to return to Canada once the sponsorship application is approved. This exception does not apply to permanent residents who must as a rule reside in Canada if they wish to sponsor a foreign spouse or partner.

See if you qualify 

Fill out our FREE Assessment form to see if you qualify to sponsor your spouse or partner. If our assessment indicates that you are qualified as a sponsor, we will contact you within one to three business day(s) and provide further information to help you start the process!

Fill out Free Assessment Form
Spouse and Partner Sponsorship Guide

Spouse and Partner Sponsorship FAQ

We've created a FREE downloadable FAQ guide that answers some common questions about how to bring your spouse or partner to Canada.

What our clients say

Matthew Jeffery Google Reviews

Today I won my spousal appeal case. I would like to express my most sincere thanks for the most professional representation. Mr. Jeffrey and his staff worked hard to ensure my success. I admire their work ethic and most of all excellent representation. I feel I have won my life back because of Mr. Jeffrey despite the complexity of my case. I want to thank Maryam for her hard work and her dedication to my case. I would recommend and trust Mr. Jeffery for all types of immigration cases.

Roya Aghashirin

I used Matthew Jeffrey’s legal services for my husband’s appeal process and I am so glad I did! I wish I would have done this from the beginning of the sponsorship process but I’m happy I had the team on my side when it mattered. Absolutely professional, courteous and realistic (about options, upfront about costs and realistic total cost). They were by my side, advising me throughout my appeal process and hearing. Highly recommend!

Roxie Iliuta

My husband and I highly recommend this lawyer office for spousal sponsorship. Special recognition goes to John. All of our questions and concerns were addressed in a timely manner and explained well. Because of them, my husband from Guyana was able to come to Canada to live with me. The process was completed in about 14 months (despite covid delays).

Kait L

Congratulations to this lawyer he did a perfect job during my spousal sponsorship , thanks to God and to Matthew Jeffery I'm with my wife in Canada as PR. I highly recommend this lawyer!!!

Gabriel Ramanand