5 Things You Should Know About Sponsoring Your Spouse

The Canadian Spousal Sponsorship program is one of the only Canadian immigration programs for permanent residence that does have any education, work or language requirements as preconditions for eligibility. Because of this, spousal sponsorship is a very attractive program for foreign nationals married to or in a common-law relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. These are five key principles to understand in order to tackle the spousal sponsorship application successfully. 

1) Who can sponsor their spouse in Canada?

Those who wish to be sponsored must demonstrate an intention to reside in Canada with their spouse. IRCC will be looking for proof of the sponsor’s intention to settle permanently in Canada if they are successful in receiving permanent residence. 

You can sponsor your spouse or common-law partner if you are:

  • at least 18 years old
  • a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident living in Canada, or a person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act
  • able to prove that you are not receiving social assistance for reasons other than a disability
  • in a financial position to provide for the basic needs of any grandchildren of the principal applicant

If you satisfy all four conditions, you can become a sponsor. You cannot sponsor someone if you are a permanent resident living outside Canada, as only Canadian citizens can sponsor from outside Canada. If you currently reside outside of Canada you must demonstrate that you plan to live in Canada when your spouse becomes a permanent resident.

Other key things to note: 

  • If you live in Quebec, you must also satisfy Quebec’s additional requirements, such as applying for a CSQ.
  • If you were sponsored by a spouse or partner, you may not become a sponsor yourself until five years have passed since you became a permanent resident

2) What is the difference between inland and outland sponsorship?

The terms “inland” sponsorship and “outland” sponsorship are commonly used to describe the types of application that may be submitted. They refer to the location of the applicant, the person being sponsored, during the processing of the application.

If the sponsored person resides outside of Canada, the application is referred to as Outland sponsorship. The application for Outland sponsorship must be submitted to IRCC’s Case Processing Centre in Sydney, Nova Scotia. 

Inland sponsorship may be pursued when the couple is together in Canada and the applicant has temporary status in Canada as a worker, student, or visitor. Inland applications must be submitted to IRCC’s Case Processing Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. Inland sponsorship also has the benefit of qualifying for spousal open work permits. However, inland sponsorship refusals cannot be appealed like outland sponsorships. 

3) What is the process for sponsoring my spouse for Canadian immigration?

There are five general steps to process your application for Canadian immigration. 

Step 1: Determine your eligibility. Check the eligibility of both yourself and your spouse against the IRCC eligibility requirements.

Step 2: Determine which documents you will need to prepare according to the details related to your sponsorship application. 

Step 3: Gather and prepare all necessary forms and supporting documents.

Step 4: Double-check everything. Canadian immigration applications are complex and even a single missing document can be grounds for refusal. Ensure that you have included every bit of information required. Currently it takes 6 months or more for a preliminary review – which is 6 months that you would wait to find out if your application was refused for not providing the correct documents. This is why many applicants work with an experienced Canadian immigration attorney, like FW Canada. 

Step 5: Submit your application for processing. Canadian spousal sponsorship applications are paper-based applications so you must prepare all of your required documents in hard copy form and mail them to the appropriate IRCC office. After you submit it will take approximately 12 months to receive a decision on your case. If you are outside of Canada, currently inland processing is taking approximately 24 months.

4) Which documents are needed for Canadian spousal sponsorship?

The documents you need for your application will vary depending on your situation. Generally, the documents required to submit in your application include:

  • Mandatory immigration forms from IRCC
  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of status in Canada
  • Proof of relationship such as:
    • joint bank statements
    • joint lease or ownership of property
    • joint utility bills
    • driver’s license showing the same address
  • Proof of previous relationships
  • Additional family information and documents
  • Police certificates
  • Medical examination (submitted after processing)

5) What is a common-law partner in regards to my spousal sponsorship application? 

The three types of relationships involved in spousal sponsorships are marriage, common-law, and conjugal. A common-law partnership is a legal framework where a couple may be considered married without having formally registered their relation as a civil or religious marriage. According to Canada, the definition of a common-law partner is an individual who is ordinarily cohabiting. After the one year period of cohabitation has been established, the partners may live apart for periods of time while still maintaining a common-law relationship. A conjugal relationship is a relationship where two people are in a marriage-like relationship but are not married and have not lived together for a period of at least one year due to extenuating circumstances. 

You must include proof of your common-law relationship in your application. Items that can be used as proof include:

  • shared ownership of residential property
  • joint leases or rental agreements
  • bills for shared utility accounts, such as:
    • gas
    • electricity
    • telephone
    • joint utility accounts
  • important documents for both of you showing the same address, such as:
    • driver’s licenses
    • insurance policies
  • identification documents