Sponsoring a spouse


A foreign national who wants to sponsor his spouse to Canada encounters a very complex legal process, no matter whether the application is submitted foreigner’s country or at a Canadian embassy or consulate abroad. The spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner intending to immigrate to Canada must be sponsored by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, who has to also submit a sponsorship application in support of the foreign spouse.

The basic requirements for immigration to Canada as the partner of a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident sponsor are as follows.

Potential sponsor:

Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
Must open a sponsorship application on behalf of the partner;
Both the sponsor and the partner must be at least 18 years old at the time of application;

Must be a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner;

Both the sponsor and the partner must be at least 18 years old at the time of application.

The 2019 Changes for Spousal Sponsorship

The IRCC has endorsed changes, such as one application for all candidates inside or outside Canada, accelerated processing times, no need for a medical exam in the first place, etc.

Due to these changes, a process of sponsoring a spouse to Canada became faster and easier. However, applicants will still need to prove to Immigration Canada that all requirements for Canadian permanent residence sponsorship have been met. The application forms for spousal sponsorship have also changed, so make sure not to use an outdated document checklist.

Applying inside or outside of Canada

Many couples cannot apply for sponsorship Canada. If the partner being sponsored is not a legal resident of Canada at the time of application submission, then he should apply from his home country. Similarly, a conjugal partner cannot apply for sponsorship Canada.

If both the sponsor and partner are legally living in Canada, the couple may qualify for either or inland spousal sponsorship. Despite being physically present in Canada when the application is submitted, if the spouse or common-law partner does not plan to stay in Canada during the time the application is being processed, applying from abroad will be the best option. The biggest advantage to applying in Canada is that the spouse or partner may be eligible for an Open Work Permit, enabling him or her to be working in Canada while awaiting approval for permanent residency.

Canadian immigration authorities may require evidence of your relationship, especially if the partner is applying as a common-law or conjugal partner.

Which documents to present in order to prove a legitimate relationship?

Proof of joint bank account or other financial accounts;
Proof of joint residential lease;
Real estate mortgage or purchase agreement;
Proof from people with personal knowledge that your relationship is genuine;
Any other evidence that can prove the authenticity of your relationship.

Note: Canadian permanent residents living outside of Canada are not qualified to sponsor a partner to Canada. The only exception is for Canadian citizens living outside of Canada who might show their intention to live in Canada after their partner becomes a Canadian resident. But in general, only permanent residents living in Canada can sponsor a spouse to Canada. 

Reasons for Inadmissibility to Canada

Any foreign national that has been convicted of a crime that could be considered an indictable offense in Canada may be criminally inadmissible to Canada. Criminal inadmissibility can render a person ineligible for Canada spousal sponsorship, even if he or she is applying for "in Canada spousal sponsorship." Depending on the criminal offense, a person may become admissible to Canada 10 years after they finished all court-ordered sentencing including probation. At this time, the person would become eligible to be sponsored to Canada as a spouse or partner.

Examples of crimes that can result in a spouse being refused Permanent Residency in Canada include impaired driving (DUI or DWI), fraud, theft, assault, domestic violence, and possession of a controlled substance or other drug-related convictions. It is possible to petition the Canadian Government to overcome criminal inadmissibility through a process called Criminal Rehabilitation. It is also possible for a foreign national to be ineligible for immigration to Canada due to medical reasons.

Processing time

The 2019 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) spousal sponsorship processing times are now the same for applications submitted inside Canada as they are for applications submitted overseas, and are significantly faster than previously. The Government of Canada is now targeting to process 80% of new spouse sponsorship applications within a one-year span. This means that almost all spousal sponsorship applications submitted in 2019 will be processed by the end of the same calendar month in 2020.