Spousal Sponsorship – Canada
The common-law/spousal sponsorship Canada immigration program is a part of the Family Class category, through which Canada welcomes a substantial number of new permanent residents annually.
This sponsorship is not about 1 person. Hence, both the sponsor as well as the applicant (the person being sponsored) must be approved by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Spousal sponsorship applications are a lengthy process which require certain responsibilities as well as financial undertakings on part of the sponsor as well as the applicant, hence such applications require a lot of due diligence and a lot of attention to detail. The most important aspect of any spousal sponsorship application is to demonstrate to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that your marriage or partnership is genuine and not “a marriage of convenience - entered into primarily for immigration purposes.” If a marriage is determined to be entered into for immigration purposes, then you risk being turned away or even deported from Canada if your application was made inland. For this reason, your relationship and supporting documentation will be scrutinized by the officer reviewing your application.
Who can be a SPONSOR?
First and foremost, you need to be a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident in order to be eligible to sponsor your spouse/partner.
What other criteria needs to be met? The sponsor must be:
At least 18 years old
Residing in Canada (if you are a Canadian citizen living outside Canada, you must show that you plan to live in Canada when your spouse or partner becomes a permanent resident. You can’t sponsor someone if you are a permanent resident living outside Canada.) If you reside in the province of Quebec, you must also satisfy Quebec’s additional requirements.
File the sponsorship application with a complete set of documents and forms
Accept the undertaking obligations
Not be the subject of a removal order
Have no criminal convictions inside or outside Canada in the following areas:
Bodily harm toward current or former family members (domestic violence)
Not being an undischarged bankrupt and have enough income to provide for basic needs of any grandchildren (dependent children of a dependent child) of the principal applicant.
Not in receipt of social assistance unless because of disability
Debt free to the federal government of Canada
Not under a five-year ban (If you were sponsored by a spouse or partner, you may not be a sponsor yourself until five years have passed since you became a permanent resident.)
Not under an undertaking ban (If you have already sponsored a spouse or common-law partner to Canada, you may not sponsor another spouse or common-law partner while the current undertaking duration is not over.)
Who is an eligible applicant (for Canadian Immigration purposes)?
Spouse: a spouse is a partner with whom you are legally married. This includes both opposite- and same-sex relationships.
Common-Law Partner: a common-law partner is not legally married to you but has been living with you for at least 12 consecutive months. Any time spent apart – for work/family related matters or any other reasons, must have been short or temporary.
Conjugal Partner: a conjugal partner is a person outside Canada who has had a binding relationship with you for at least one year, but could not, for some reason(s), live with you. Individuals living in Canada are not eligible to be sponsored as conjugal partners.
The person you are sponsoring must:
Be at least 18 years old;
Pass all background, security and medical checks.
Both the Canadian citizen or permanent resident, and the foreign national must be approved by IRCC before the sponsored person can receive a visa.
There are certain factors that may disqualify you from being a sponsor or from being sponsored. For example, you may not be eligible to be sponsored if you:
Have been convicted of certain crimes;
did not meet the terms of a sponsorship agreement in the past; or
did not pay court-ordered alimony or child support, or if you are in receipt of government financial assistance (for reasons other than being disabled).
As well, some examples of why you may not be eligible to be sponsored include:
if you are under 18;
if you were married to someone else at the time of your marriage to your sponsor; or
your sponsor has sponsored another spouse in the past and five years have not passed since that person became a permanent resident.
These lists are not exhaustive, and every application will depend on its specific circumstances.
What are the financial obligations of a sponsor in Canada?
Sponsorship of a spouse in Canada involves a commitment to provide financial support to the sponsored person, including any dependent children. As a sponsor, you will be required to sign an undertaking that promises to provide for the basic needs of the sponsored person.
These basic needs include:
Housing, including utility bills;
Food and personal hygiene products;
Clothing and other items necessary for daily living;
Medical expenses not covered by public health insurance, such as dental and eye care.
Your commitment as a sponsor comes into force the moment the undertaking is in effect. The length of the undertaking is 3 years from the day your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner becomes a permanent resident.
You cannot cancel or withdraw an undertaking, even if your personal or financial situation changes, once the sponsorship application has been approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
So, what happens if I do not want to sponsor someone anymore?
Well, the only light at the end of this tunnel is that you are able to withdraw your application as long as the person you are sponsoring has not received their Permanent Resident status in Canada. You may even be eligible for a refund if IRCC hasn’t actually started processing your application.
What about after the person has become a Canadian Permanent Resident? What if the relationship fails once they are Permanent Residents?
As is the case in every relationship, there may be some discord and two people might not want to stay together anymore. In such cases, the sponsor still needs to uphold their end of the undertaking of being responsible for the person they sponsored for the duration of 3 years. On the same principle, you cannot sponsor another person until the end of the 3-year undertaking even if you are legally divorced/separated from the person you sponsored and are now re-married.
The person being sponsored however, also cannot sponsor another spouse/partner for a duration of 5 years from the date of becoming a permanent resident. This holds good even if you have now remarried.
Spousal sponsorship applications can be submitted Inside Canada as well as Outside Canada. These are called INLAND sponsorships and OUTLAND sponsorships respectively.
Inland Sponsorship: Under this category - both spouses need to live together in Canada and the foreign spouse or partner must have temporary status in Canada as a worker, student or visitor.
The sponsor and the applicant spouse are required to live together in Canada for the duration of the processing of the application. This type of sponsorship application is filed in Canada.
Outland Sponsorship: As the name suggests, this program allows a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to sponsor their spouse/common-law partner for permanent residence, regardless of where the spouse is currently residing. Such applications are usually processed through a visa office serving the applicant's country of origin or in which the applicant has been legally residing for at least one year.
Applying for a spousal sponsorship is a long, complex, and costly process, and you don’t want to take any chances with the immigration of a loved one.
Let us simplify the application process for you. Get in touch now.