Spousal Sponsorship to Canada

Sponsor your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner to move to Canada permanently.

Spousal Sponsorship

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.

The Canadian spousal sponsorship allows you to sponsor your spouse, conjugal partner, or common-law partner for permanent residency in Canada.

Glossary of terms used on this page.

Who can be a Sponsor in a spousal sponsorship application?

In order to be considered eligible to Sponsor your partner for immigration to Canada, you must be: ​

  1. Be of 18 years or older

  2. Be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident, or a registered Indian under the Canadian Indian Act

  3. Reside in Canada or intend to live in Canada after your spouse is granted permanent residency

What other criteria need to be met by the sponsor?


  1. Accept the undertaking obligations

  2. Not be the subject of a removal order

  3. Have no criminal convictions inside or outside Canada in the following areas:

    1. Bodily harm toward current or former family members (domestic violence)

    2. Sexual abuse

    3. Significant violence 

  4. 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.

  5. Not in receipt of social assistance unless because of disability

  6. Debt free to the federal government of Canada

  7. 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.)

  8. 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)?


  1. Spouse: a spouse is a partner with whom you are legally married. This includes both opposite- and same-sex relationships. 

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

Who is considered a Spouse when applying to immigrate to Canada?

In order to qualify for a visa under the spousal sponsorship program, you and your foreign spouse or partner will have to prove that you are in an authentic relationship that qualifies under one of the three categories:

  • Spouse: you are legally married;

  • Common-law partner: you live or have lived/cohabited with your partner for at least 12 consecutive months in a marriage-like relationship;

  • Conjugal partner: you must have been in a continuous and committed relationship for a period of at least 12 months but have had significant obstacles that prevent you from residing with one another (such as cultural, religious or immigration barriers).


For more clarity, watch the video below: 

How long does it take to process Spousal Sponsorship applications?

Spousal sponsorship applications can take 12-17 months from the date of application. In late September last year, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino unveiled a plan to speed up spousal applications and help families build their lives together in Canada.

There are plans to adopt new technologies to keep up with the family reunification values embedded in the Canadian Immigration system, which would shorten the application processing time to anywhere between 6-9 months.

How do I apply for a Spousal Sponsorship application to Canada?

Applying to sponsor a spouse is a four-step process:

Step 1. Obtain the application package found on the government website; it contains a guide with instructions and forms that will help you complete the process correctly.

Step 2. Pay the online application fee, which includes the following:

  • Processing fees for all persons included in the application;

  • Right of Permanent Residence Fee;

  • Biometrics fees;

  • Other third-party fees, if applicable.


Step 3. Submit your application by following the submission instructions provided in the guide you downloaded.


Step 4. Submit the required supporting documents when prompted.

What is Outland Sponsorship and Inland sponsorship for Canadian Immigration?

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.

How can I prove that my marriage/relationship is genuine?


If you are sponsoring your spouse, then the following proof of your relationship will be required:

  • Relationship Information and Sponsorship Evaluation questionnaire

  • Marriage certificate (see common-law if you are not married)

  • Wedding invitations and photos

  • Birth certificates or adoption records for any children you and your spouse have together

  • Proof of registration of marriage with a government authority


And at least two of the following documents:

  • Proof that you and your spouse own property together

  • Shared bank accounts, 

  • Utility bills with both of your names, 

  • Copies of government-issued IDs, 

  • Car insurance, 

  • Pay stubs or tax forms that show that you live at the same address

On what grounds can my Spousal Sponsorship application to Canada be refused?

Always remember that the burden of proof lies with the applicant. The immigration department of Canada will make a decision on proof that they find genuine and authentic. If for any reasons, an assessing officer doubts that you marriage is purely a marriage of convenience, your application will be denied.

Here are some of the main reasons why your application could be refused:

  1. You did not provide enough proof of relationship to prove it is legitimate;

  2. There were errors in the Canadian spousal sponsorship forms;

  3. There was a misrepresentation of facts presented in your application;

  4. You are unable to meet basic requirements for spousal sponsorship;

  5. You or your partner are inadmissible due to a conviction or pose a risk to Canadian society.

How Can I Avoid a Canadian Immigration Refusal?

Refusal or denial can be painful and stressful. Most people think that they know what they're doing and will do it right. Not all of them can actually claim that they will not make a mistake. Immigration applications to Canada are a 1-time opportunity. A mistake can lead to irreparable damage to your profile. Therefore, you may want to consider hiring a professional immigration consultant who has the knowledge and expertise in matters of Canadian immigration laws. 

Contact us now to connect with our Regulated Canadian  Immigration Consultant (RCIC).

Frequently asked questions

Can my spouse work in Canada while their application is being processed?

Canada allows spouses and common-law partners of Canadians or permanent residents to obtain an Open Work Permit while their Inland spousal sponsorship application for permanent residence (PR) is being processed. In order to be issued an open work permit, you must:

  1. Have submitted an application under the Spousal/Common-Law Partner Sponsorship Immigration Program;
  2. Reside at the same address as the sponsor (spouse/common-law partner);
  3. Have a valid temporary resident status (as a visitor, student, or worker); and
  4. Meet all eligibility requirements under spousal or common-law partner sponsorship, your spouse must meet all the eligibility requirements.

Can i sponsor my spouse if i was previously married?

If you are legally divorced, then you can apply for a spousal sponsorship. However, if you were an applicant for spousal sponsorship in the last 5 years preceding the application, then you are not eligible for a spousal sponsorship.

I got divorced after being sponsored by a spouse, can i sponsor my new spouse?

There is a five-year sponsorship restriction for anyone who has been sponsored as a spouse/common-law partner himself or herself. This means that you cannot sponsor a new spouse or common-law partner within the first five years after you become a permanent resident, even if you have left your sponsor and you have now remarried.

I married a Canadian citizen, do i automatically become a permanent resident or Citizen of Canada?

No. To obtain permanent residence (PR) or Canadian Citizenship you have to go through a formal immigration process and follow the same steps and meet the same eligibility requirement as everyone else.

What happens if I do not want to sponsor someone anymore?

You may be ablt 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.

How much money do I need to sponsor my spouse to Canada?

You do not need to demonstrate a minimum amount of income to sponsor a spouse. However, whenever you sponsor a family member to Canada, you must sign an undertaking, in which you promise to provide financial support for the basic needs of your sponsored family member.

Can i appeal a refusal of my spousal sponsorship application?

Not all spouse visa refusals are eligible for sponsorship appeal. Only spouses or partners who submitted outland sponsorship can be appealed to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD). You have 30 days after receiving the refusal letter to appeal to the IAD.

Can i leave Canada while my Spousal Sponsorship application is being processed?

Yes, absolutely. You can leave at your own free will. However, in order to return to Canada, you will need to have proper documentation or visa (as applicable).

Can i sponsor somone while i am living outside Canada?

Only Canadian citizens have the option to apply for Spousal sponsorship while not being in Canada themselves. They, however, need to prove that they will move back to Canada once the sponsorship application has been approved. Permanent residents of Canada can only be a sponsor while they are living inside Canada.