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Spouse or Common-Law Partner

Spouse or Common-Law Partner

Spousal Sponsorship: Sponsor your Spouse or Partner for Canadian Immigration

Spousal sponsorship is a major part of Canada’s immigration system. If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you can sponsor your spouse, common-law, or conjugal partner to obtain Canadian permanent resident status.

The Canadian government aims to make decisions on spousal sponsorship applications within 12 months. This comprehensive page providers everything you need to know on Canada’s spousal sponsorship program.

What is Spousal Sponsorship?

The Canadian government allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are in a relationship with a foreign national to sponsor that person to join them and become a permanent resident of Canada. You can sponsor your spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner. You have two main options to choose from when sponsoring: Outland and Inland sponsorship.

How is COVID-19 impacting spousal sponsorship?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) continues to accept and process spousal sponsorship applications throughout the coronavirus pandemic. If you wish to sponsor your wife, husband, or partner, you are welcome to do so. While COVID-19 is causing disruptions to application processing, IRCC is stating that processing spousal sponsorship applications remains a priority and it is aiming to expedite spousal processing during the pandemic.

How many spouses and partners does Canada welcome each year?

Under its Immigration Levels Plan, Canada aims to welcome over 400,000 new immigrants per year. Some 60 per cent are targeted as economic class skilled workers, followed by family class immigrants, and refugees. Among family class immigrants, Canada seeks to welcome some 80,000 per year under its Spouses, Partners, and Children category.

Am I Eligible to sponsor?

You can be a sponsor if:

  • You are 18 years of age or older;
  • A Canadian citizen, permanent resident living in Canada, or person registered under the Canadian Indian Act;
  • You live in Canada or are a Canadian citizen planning to return to the country;
  • You are not receiving social assistance for reasons other than a disability;
  • You can provide for your basic needs, those of your spouse or partner and, if applicable, those of dependent children.

As a sponsor you must:

  • Be able to support your partner financially;
  • Make sure they will not require social assistance from the government.

What are the requirements to 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 obligations as a sponsor begin 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).

How much income do you need to sponsor your spouse or partner?

There is no specific income requirement to be able to sponsor your spouse or partner to Canada.

However, financial requirements for spousal sponsorship include the following:

  • You must show that you have sufficient income or assets to support the spouse or partner once he or she arrives in Canada;
  • You must not be receiving income support benefits from any province or be in bankruptcy proceedings.

If you are receiving Employment Insurance benefits or disability benefits, you may still sponsor your spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner.

How much does it cost to sponsor your spouse or partner?

Fees In Canadian dollars
Sponsorship Fee $ 75
Principal applicant processing fee $ 475
Right of Permanent Residence Fee $ 500
Biometrics (fingerprints and photo) $ 85
Total $ 1,135

If you are sponsoring your spouse or partner and he or she has dependent children, an additional payment of $150 will be required for each child included in the application.

If the sponsor resides in Quebec or intends to reside in Quebec when permanent residence is issued, an additional fee of $289 CAD will also be required.

Who Can I Sponsor?

To receive a visa under this immigration 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 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).

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 IRCC before the sponsored person can receive a visa.

Can I sponsor my same-sex spouse or partner?

Canada recognizes same-sex marriages and relationships, and your spouse or partner may be eligible to apply in one of the three categories above, provided both parties meet all the eligibility criteria. If you are married and the event took place outside of Canada, it must be legally recognized in the country where it took place.

How can I prove that my common-law relationship is genuine?

To prove the duration and nature of your relationship, you will need to submit documents such as:

  • Relationship Information and Sponsorship Evaluation Questionnaire;
  • Birth certificates, marriage certificates or adoption records of any children you and your common-law partner have together;
  • Photos of you and your common-law partner that show your relationship;
  • Documents proving that you are recognized as common-law partners of each other, such as employment or insurance benefits;
  • Proof of shared expenses between you and your partner;
  • Proof of your relationship (letters, emails, social media).

If there is any indication that your relationship is not genuine, the sponsorship application will not be accepted.

How Can I Apply?

Before you begin the application process, make sure that you and your loved one meet all the eligibility criteria.

The application process will require you to submit the following two applications at the same time:

  • Your application to sponsor your spouse or partner
  • Your spouse or partner’s permanent residence application

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 are Outland and Inland applications in Canada?

Couples have two options to choose from when submitting their application:

  • Outland Sponsorship

In general, applications to sponsor a foreign spouse or partner are submitted when the sponsored person lives abroad and the Canadian sponsor resides in Canada.

The foreign spouse or partner may be allowed to enter and leave Canada throughout the application process, provided they are from a visa-free country or obtain the appropriate Canadian visa. For his or her part, the Canadian spouse or partner will have to remain in Canada while the application is being processed.

Applications from outside Canada are processed by the visa office serving the applicant’s country of origin or in which the applicant has been legally residing for at least one year.

  • Inland Sponsorship

To submit a sponsorship application in 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.

Foreign spouses who are in Canada and have legal temporary status may apply for an Open Work Permit (OWP) while their Inland sponsorship application is being processed, allowing them to work for any Canadian employer. This measure is intended to alleviate potential financial hardship caused by potentially lengthy application processing times.

Where do I submit my spousal sponsorship application?

In general, applications to sponsor a spouse or partner can be submitted either outside Canada at a visa office abroad or in Canada at a local immigration office. Sponsorship applications for conjugal partners can only be submitted through an outside of Canada application process.

How long do sponsorship applications usually take?

The standard spousal application processing time is 12 months.

Is an interview required as part of my application?

Interviews are necessary only in cases where the information is considered not credible and are at the discretion of the visa officers assessing your application.

Why could my application be refused?

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

  • You did not provide enough proof of relationship to prove it is legitimate;
  • There were errors in the Canadian spousal sponsorship forms;
  • There was a misrepresentation of facts presented in your application;
  • You are unable to meet basic requirements for spousal sponsorship;
  • You or your partner are inadmissible due to a conviction or pose a risk to Canadian society.