What is the Spousal Sponsorship of Canada?

As the word spouse suggests a married relationship, spousal sponsorship means sponsoring a married partner to Canada. According to Canadian immigration law, a marriage will be considered a marriage if it took place legally where it took place or Canadian law accept it as legal. 

To sponsor your spouse to Canada, the applicant must be at least 18 years old and the legitimacy of the relationship must be provided. Canadian spousal sponsorship comes under the category   of “Family Sponsorships.” There are two parts to such applications the first being an application to become a sponsor while the second being an application for permanent residence of the spouse. Both applications need to be submitted simultaneously as an application package. The application can be tracked and must be updated in case of any changes. It may take up to several months before final approval, in the condition that the application is complete. 

Eligibility Requirements for Spousal Sponsorship

Before sponsoring a spouse to immigrate to Canada under a spousal sponsorship program, the sponsor must be sure that he/she is eligible to sponsor. Some of the important points to take into consideration are as follow:

  • The sponsor must be 18 years or above to file in the process.
  • He/she must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
  • The sponsor must be residing in Canada if however not he/she must demonstrate living in Canada once the spouse is sponsored.
  • He/she must have proof of the legitimacy of the relationship. (I.e. marriage certificates, photos, other supporting documents, etc.)
  • Although proof of income is not required for a spousal sponsorship application, the sponsor must show financial capacity for fulfilling the basic needs to sponsor his/her spouse.
  • The sponsor must not take government assistance except under special circumstances such as social disability.
  • Were sponsored yourself (principal applicant) by spouse or partner (sponsor) and became a permanent resident less than five years ago.
  • Must have a clean record with no criminal convictions.
  • No violent/sexual convictions.
  • Must not be going through bankruptcy.
  • Must not be under the removal order.

Forms Required for Canadian Spousal Sponsorship

It is imperative to note that the spouse being sponsored must be free of criminal convictions and be in sound health. After immigrating to Canada, the spouse is allowed to work/study in Canada. The applicant and the sponsor will have to fill out the following forms to carry out the process:

For Canadian Spousal Sponsorship following forms must be filled and attached to the application:

  1. Sponsorship agreement and undertaking 
  2. Relationship Questionnaire 
  3. Sponsorship evaluation 
  4. Financial Evaluation Form (shows the sponsor financial capability to provide for spouse)
  5. Generic Application Form from Canada
  6. Additional Family Information Form
  7. Additional Dependents/Declaration (in case of more than 5 dependents on the application)
  8. Schedule A- Background/Declaration
  9. Representative Form, (states that you have hired a consultant/immigration lawyer to assist you in the process, in case you hired one)

 The list of forms may vary according to the type of sponsorship application. There are two types of spousal sponsorship applications: Inland Spousal Sponsorship, Outside Canada Spousal Sponsorship. The processing time varies for each category and also varies according to the country of origin or residence of an applicant but Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has committed to deciding all those applications within twelve months.

Inland Spousal Sponsorship or within Canada Spousal Sponsorship

In the inland spousal sponsorship application, the sponsored person is already inside Canada on any status. In such cases where the spouse is already residing in Canada (already working or visiting Canada), sponsoring your spouse within Canada sponsorship can be processed internally. The sponsorship application can be done within Canada but requires the spouse to maintain legal status (recommended). This initiates the Canadian spouse to sponsor the foreign spouse to stay in Canada during the process of inland spousal sponsorship application until the decision is rendered. It may also allow the sponsored person to apply for OPEN WORK PERMIT if he/she qualifies. 

Inland Spousal Sponsorship Processing Time

The inland spousal sponsorship processing time varies as per the nature and type of each application and other factors and can take several months to finalize. Generally, the inland spousal sponsorship processing time varies according to the circumstances of each applicant and the complexities associated with each application and also will depend on the type of application and the candidature of the application. On average for around 80% of applications of inland spousal sponsorship processing time takes around 12 months.

But as mentioned earlier each inland spousal sponsorship application is dealt with on its own merits. To get a smooth and prompt decision, certain conditions needed to be met by both candidates i.e. sponsor and the person being sponsored. However, if the applicants can prove the genuineness of the relationship and show multiple proofs regarding the closeness to each other and dependency on each other, it is likely the inland spousal sponsorship processing time may get reduced and it will be a straightforward case. 

Canada emphasis more on family reunification and consider family reunion as the top priority, thus the inland spousal sponsorship processing time likely to be the same as with outside Canada spousal sponsorship processing time but it will still vary as per each applicant's socio-economic circumstances and mainly on how established and bonafide the relationship is?

Outside Canada Spousal Sponsorship

In outside Canada, spousal sponsorship the sponsored person is normally outside of Canada, but he/she may be in Canada and can apply under outside Canada spousal sponsorship program. If the applicant is outside of Canada, the application will be processed in his/her country of origin or his/her current country of residence. In case the sponsored person is residing in Canada but wants to apply outside Canada's spousal sponsorship program, it can be done and his travel to any other country will not jeopardize the spousal sponsorship application. The outside Canada spousal sponsorship application also can take up to 12 months until the final decision has been rendered. 

Who is the Principal Applicant in Spousal Sponsorship?

For Canadian spousal sponsorship application, whether you intend to file an inside Canada spousal sponsorship or want to file an outside Canada spousal sponsorship application, one question always confuses people that who is the principal applicant in spousal sponsorship application? 

Canadian spousal sponsorship application has many forms and often people get confused as to which form belongs to whom as the form as the term used whilst filling up the form as Principal Applicant whereas most of the forms are asking information about the person who is sponsoring, so confusion arises who should be called a Principal applicant. To understand it further we have to understand that Canadian spousal sponsorship applications are processed in two parts. At the first stage, the sponsor's eligibility is defined that whether the sponsor is eligible and he/she meets the eligibility requirements for spousal sponsorship, technical at this stage the sponsor is called applicant, and once that stage clearly and Approval in Principle (AIP) issued the application is moved to the next stage to the relevant IRCC office (if filed an inland Canada spousal sponsorship application) or to the concerned visa office of the country of residence or country of origin of the person being sponsored and from this point onward applicant will always be the person being sponsored for permanent residence of Canada. 

Sponsor's Obligation in Spousal Sponsorship Applications

Sponsors are obligated to provide necessities of life like food, shelter, clothes, and all the financial or basic health-related services to their sponsored spouses for at least  3 years from the day their spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner obtains their permanent residence status in Canada. The sponsor signs this undertaking whilst filling the forms for spousal sponsorship and remain obligated for at least 03 years unless they cancel the sponsorship application and inform IRCC to withdraw their application. This is only possible if the sponsorship application is still under process and the final decision has not been rendered on the application. Once the spousal sponsorship application has been finalized and the sponsored person has completed the landing procedure then the sponsor will be obligated for the period as specified above no matter what happens with their statuses like marriage dissolution or separation due to whatsoever reason or they change their mind and no longer want to live with the person whom they sponsored. Sponsors' obligations start right at the same time when the undertaking is in effect.

If for any reason the sponsor or person being sponsored is not living together or separated or get divorced then as per the signed undertaking the sponsor will be held responsible if the person being sponsored seeks financial help from the government. The amount that is claimed by the sponsored spouses in terms of social assistance or welfare from the government will be payable by the sponsor during the time of the undertaking. 

This undertaking is a binding contract between IRCC and the sponsors, in which it is established that it is the responsibility of the sponsors that they will support their sponsored spouses for the duration of the undertaking at least, no matter what happens with their marriages. The undertaking will remain in effect despite the following:

  • the sponsored person qualifies and attains Canadian citizenship
  • the marriage gets dissolved by divorce or sponsor and person being sponsored are not living together or separated 
  • the current city or country of residence get changed; and
  • sponsor is financially not capable to afford the financial responsibilities of the sponsored person

Although there are no financial requirements to the sponsors like in other sponsorship applications to meet the low-income cut-off (LICO) to sponsor their spouse partners. common-law partners, conjugal partners or to sponsor their dependent children but it is always better if one can demonstrate their financial abilities.  

Documents Required for Spousal Sponsorship

For immigration under the Canadian spousal sponsorship program; thorough documentation is required. If documents are not in English or French, original documents with certified translation must be attached. During application, police clearance(s) will be needed.  A receipt of government fees has to be also attached to the application.  An approximate one to two months may take until you hear from the IRCC in the shape of initial acknowledgment that they received the application and are processing the application and is called Approval in Principle (AIP). This stage of IRCC spousal sponsorship application is meant for the sponsor and declares him/her as an eligible sponsor and indicates that the spousal sponsorship application is considered for further processing and moved to relevant immigration authorities responsible to process such applications.

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have removed conditional permanent residence for sponsored spouses and partners of Canadian citizens as of April 28, 2017.

The rule initially required the sponsor and spouse to live with each other for at least two years. However, each application is deeply scrutinized and fraudulent marriages aiming for mere permanent residency are kept on a keen eye.

Possible Refusal Reasons for Spousal Sponsorship Application 

Some of the reasons why an application for spousal sponsorship can be rejected are as follow:

  • Lack of genuineness of marriage felt by the immigration officer.
  • Lack of evidence and documentation.
  • Factual errors.

Thus, it is suggested:

  • Keep all text messages/emails/communications throughout the relationship
  • Keep pictures taken together as evidence
  • Keep joint accounts
  • Keep insurances.
  • Anything which may help in determining the legitimacy of the marriage.

A strong case will make sure that your spouse's immigration to Canada application is successful but a thorough and professional presentation will prevent the immigration officer from wanting more documents to be submitted thus impeding the immigration Canada spouse sponsorship application process.

Canadian immigration law is different than American immigration. In case an American wants to relocate to Canada along with his/her spouse he/she must first become a permanent resident to be eligible to sponsor. 

Processing Time for Spousal Sponsorship Applications

Canada spouse visa processing time can vary according to application complexity but most spousal sponsorship Canada applications are processed within one year but processing time varies case to case and according to the type of sponsorship i.e. inland spousal sponsorship or outside Canada spousal sponsorship program.

Looking for expert advice for your spousal sponsorship application? The Visa Canada team can assist you in putting a perfect and error-free spousal sponsorship application.

If you would like to know more, you may call +1 647 294 6631 or email info@TheVisaCanada.ca or message us using the contact form below.