What is spousal sponsorship in Canada?

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.

Whether you were legally married in Canada or in any other country, you will be required to submit a valid marriage certificate as evidence of the marital relationship. In the context of immigration, it plays a crucial role in satisfying the immigration authorities that the marriage is legitimate and meets the requirements for sponsorship applications.

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

1 Spousal Sponsorship Requirements for Canadian Sponsor

To sponsor a spouse you must:

  • You are at least 18 years old.
  • You are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or a person registered as Indian under the Canadian Indian Act.
  • You are able to financially support and provide for the basic needs of your spouse.
  • You are not receiving social assistance for reasons other than a disability.
  • You are not an undischarged bankrupt.
  • You are not in default of any support payments ordered by a court.
  • You are not in default of any previous sponsorship undertaking.
  • You have not been convicted of a crime involving bodily harm to a relative or partner.
  • You have not been convicted of a crime punishable by more than 10 years imprisonment.
  • You have not been convicted of a crime of sexual nature.
  • You are presently not detained in any prison.
  • You are not subject to a removal order.

As a sponsor, you will be required to sign the Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking form, whereby you will undertake to be financially responsible for your spouse upon arrival to Canada for a period of 3 years.

Begin Your Sponsorship Process

Step 1

Fill out a FREE Sponsorship Assessment form to see if you qualify for spousal or partner sponsorship.

Step 2

Your submission will go directly to our lawyer. If you are qualified, you will receive a reply within 1-3 business days.

Step 3

Book a consultation with our lawyer to go over the details of completing the spousal or partner sponsorship application.

2 Spousal Sponsorship Requirements for Foreign Spouse

Demonstrating genuine relationship

Demonstrate genuine relationship

A crucial aspect for the success of your sponsorship application is demonstrating that you and your spouse have a genuine marital relationship. The Canadian immigration officers will want to be satisfied that the foreign spouse is in a genuine relationship with their Canadian spouse and is not simply using the spousal sponsorship process for the purpose of obtaining immigration status in Canada. Many applications are refused as a result of the applicants inability to demonstrate that their marriage is genuine.

Immigration authorities will look at different factors when assessing whether a marital relationship is genuine. Such factors include the nature and duration of the relationship prior to entering the marriage, the compatibility of the spouses, and whether the marriage was conducted in the presence of family and friends and in accordance with cultural norms and traditions.

» More about demonstrating genuine relationship

Spouse must not have criminal conviction

Foreign Spouse Must Not Have Criminal Convictions

A foreign spouse with a criminal conviction, such as shoplifting or impaired driving, that is or could be the equivalent of an indictable offence in Canada can cause an applicant to be criminally inadmissible in Canada. This means that a person cannot be sponsored or otherwise enter Canada.

One way to overcome an issue of inadmissibility is to obtain a pardon, if the conviction was in Canada. Another way to overcome inadmissibility barriers is making an application for rehabilitation. Such an application can be made if five years have passed from the day of completing the criminal sentence.

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

Financial Requirements for Spousal Sponsorship

Financial Requirements for Spousal Sponsorship

The Canadian sponsor is not required to show any set amount of income in order to sponsor a spouse or a partner, however the immigration authorities will want to see sufficient income or assets to enable the sponsor to support their partner for the three-year sponsorship undertaking. Usually, any form of full- time employment in Canada is sufficient to meet this requirement. If the sponsor does not have employment, they can show sufficient assets to support their partner, such as cash deposits in a Canadian bank account.

A sponsor cannot be in receipt of provincial social assistance except for a disability. This applies to those collecting welfare payments. It does not apply to those collecting Employment Insurance. It also doesn’t apply to those collecting disability payments.

A sponsor cannot be bankrupt. If the sponsor has declared bankruptcy, then they must have the bankruptcy discharged before they can sponsor a spouse or partner.

» Full details on financial requirements

Bring Your Spouse to Canada

Here's how we can help you:

We provide a full service of preparing, filing, and processing the application to completion to ensure that your application is done as quickly and smoothly as possible.

We will formulate an initial strategy based on your particular circumstances and tailor the supporting documents to best present your case. Our team will work with you to ensure that all necessary documents and forms are accurately prepared.

We will collect and review supporting documentation that sufficiently establishes the genuineness of your relationship and ensures that you have a strong application.

Our lawyers will prepare detailed written legal submissions in support of your case to be filed with the final application. This will clarify your qualifications with the immigration authorities and enable them to easily process your application.

We will collaborate with you throughout the entire sponsorship process, including dealing with all correspondence from the immigration authorities on your behalf, and until your spouse is approved for permanent residence.

Our lawyers will prepare you and your spouse or partner for any required interviews with the immigration authorities.

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.

3 Submitting the sponsorship

Where will you submit the sponsorship?

Spousal sponsorship applications can be submitted to a local immigration office if the applicant is inside Canada, or to a visa office abroad if the applicant is outside Canada.

Submit sponsorship
in Canada

Submit sponsorship
outside Canada

Inland Spousal Sponsorship Canada

Inland spousal sponsorship Canada is the process by which a Canadian citizen or permanent resident sponsors a foreign spouse who is already living in Canada. This approach is intended to assist couples in reuniting and living together permanently in Canada.

If the foreign spouse is not already in Canada, it may be difficult and even impossible to obtain a temporary resident visa while the inland sponsorship application processes, since the immigration authorities may not be satisfied that the applicant is a genuine visitor, but rather is a foreigner who will likely remain in Canada permanently.

A foreign spouse applying for permanent residency under the inland spousal sponsorship category must live with the Canadian spouse while the sponsorship application is being processed. This means the couple must be physically present and live at the same address. While the foreign spouse may travel outside of Canada during this period, such travels should be kept to a minimum and only for a short period.

If the foreign spouse has valid temporary status in Canada at the time of submitting the sponsorship application, the applicant may also apply for an open work permit. Once the work permit is approved, the foreign spouse will be able to work in Canada while waiting for the approval of the permanent residency application.

Can My Spouse Work in Canada While Waiting For Sponsorship To Be Approved?

A foreign national being sponsored through the in-Canada spouse or partner category can apply for an open work permit to allow them to work while the sponsorship application processes. Note that the availability of a work permit is limited to those who are applying under the in-Canada process. Those applying under the outside Canada process are not eligible for a spousal open work permit.

To obtain an open work permit the applicant first needs to file their sponsorship application and wait for confirmation of receipt from the immigration authorities. A separate application for a work permit can be filed once receipt is received. It should be noted that to qualify for a work permit the applicant needs to have legal temporary status in Canada, either as a visitor, student, or worker. Those who have fallen out of status in Canada cannot apply for an open work permit until they receive first-stage approval of the sponsorship application.

The processing time of an open work permit application is usually in excess of one month. Once issued the work permit will typically be valid for one year and can be extended as necessary until the sponsorship application is completed.

As the name implies, an open work permit allows the holder to take on any employment position that they can find in Canada, or they can be self-employed.

Dependent children of those being sponsored can also apply for an open work permit under this category if they are of working age.

Outland Spousal Sponsorship Canada

The outland spousal sponsorship Canada category is for those who will have their foreign spouse continue to live outside Canada, in their own country, while their sponsorship application is processed. The Canadian sponsor will be required to reside in Canada for the duration of the sponsorship application if the sponsor holds permanent residence status. However, a sponsor who is a Canadian citizen may reside abroad while the sponsorship application processes if they can demonstrate an intention to return to Canada and settle in Canada with their foreign spouse once the sponsorship application is approved.

The foreign spouse residing outside Canada may be able to visit the Canadian spouse in Canada while the sponsorship application processes if they are from a visa-exempt country or if they hold a valid temporary visa. However, this is uncommon since the Canadian immigration authorities generally do not approve visitor visa applications for foreign spouses. The reason behind this is that such visas require that the individual applicant intend to stay in Canada for a short-term period only. This intention may not be found with a foreign spouse whose intention is to permanently reside with their Canadian spouse in Canada.

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

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