Spousal Sponsorship

Spouse and Common-Law spousal sponsorship applications are the heart of our business. While we take pride in all the application categories we practice, there is something special about helping separated couples reunite in Canada.

Contact us today to help you determine which application stream best fits your situation!

Spouse or Common-Law Partner Sponsorship for Permanent Residence

At Castlewell Canadian Immigration Services, we have helped hundreds of couples navigate the spouse and common-law sponsorship process. Whether you and your loved one are already together in Canada, are both overseas, or are separated on different sides of the border, CCIS can guide you through the many hurdles of the Permanent Residence process. We can also help you decide which filing stream is the right one for your situation and help you manage border crossings as the spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident. Our consultants possess extensive experience in all facets of the spouse and common-law partner sponsorship process. In fact, our consultants have taught Spouse and Common-Law Sponsorship Immigration courses for the most prestigious Canadian Immigration Law programs at Canada’s top universities.

With the experience of hundreds of applications under our belt, we can see the issues, red flags and pitfalls that the average immigration representative might not catch. Let us help you have a smooth and successful immigration process so you and your partner can start your lives together in Canada.

Call or email us to see how CCIS can help you sponsor your spouse or partner for Permanent Residence in Canada.

Obtaining Canadian Permanent Residence for your spouse or common-law partner can be a complex and time-consuming process, but it is a crucial step in building a life together in Canada. Whether you are a Permanent Resident or citizen of Canada, there are several steps you will need to take in order to successfully apply for permanent residence for your spouse or partner.

First, it is important to ensure that you are eligible to sponsor your spouse or common-law partner for permanent residence. In order to do so, you must be at least 18 years of age, a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, and able to demonstrate that you have sufficient financial resources to support your spouse or partner and any accompanying children or other dependents. There are numerous factors that go into assessing a sponsor’s eligibility, including where the sponsor is located, whether they have sponsored someone else in the past, or been recently sponsored themselves, and whether they have any significant criminal history.

The person that you are sponsoring – the applicant – must also meet a number of eligibility requirements, including having nothing in their past that could render them inadmissible to Canada, including criminal records or physical or mental disorders that would cause them to be a threat to the health or safety of Canadians. Note that simply having a chronic, or even a terminal medical condition would not render a spouse or common-law partner inadmissible because unlike other streams of immigration, such as economic streams under the Express Entry system, spouses and common-law partners are not subject to inadmissibility due to causing “excessive demand” on Canada’s healthcare system. So, in short, Canada does not refuse couples because they are sick, even if they are seriously ill, unless it is something that can threaten the safety and health of Canadians.

You will need to provide evidence that you meet the definition of being a member of the “Family Class” (i.e. you are in a legally recognized marriage or have lived together in a serious committed relationship for 12+ months) and your relationship is genuine and does not fall under one of the criteria for “excluded relationships” (i.e. relationships that are underaged, involve bigamy or polygamy, are a relationship of convenience entered into for the purpose of obtaining Permanent Residence, among others).

You will also need to provide evidence of your relationship with your spouse, such as a marriage certificate or proof of common-law status (defined as 12+ consecutive months of cohabitation in a conjugal or “marriage-like” relationship), and evidence of having a genuine relationship.

Once you have determined that you are eligible to sponsor your spouse, the next step is to gather all of the necessary documentation. This includes proof of identity, such as a passports and birth certificates, as well as documentation evidencing your relationship, such as documents proving your history of cohabitation, relationship photographs and support letters from family and friends demonstrating your commitment to each other. As the sponsor you will also need to provide evidence of your financial resources, such as a confirmation of employment letter, recent tax return, and any other available documents showing your ability to financially support your spouse or partner as they settle in Canada. Note that there is no specific minimum income requirement or even a requirement to be employed to sponsor. IRCC just needs to be satisfied that the person you are sponsoring will not end up on government social assistance once they arrive in Canada. Technically, IRCC is supposed to only consider the financial resources of the sponsor, but in reality, they will take other sources into account. For example, we have had many cases where the sponsor was a stay-at-home parent, or full-time student while the applicant was the main or even sole income earner. We have also had cases where both the applicant and the sponsor were recent university graduates with little income of their own. In such cases we have successfully presented evidence of support from the sponsor’s parents pledging that they are committed to supporting the couple until they establish themselves in Canada.

A spouse or common-law partner sponsorship application is a joint application, meaning that the Sponsor’s application to be approved as an eligible sponsor, and the Applicant’s application to be approved for Permanent Residence are included together in one application, which is filed online via an IRCC Permanent Residence application portal account. When working with CCIS, we will take care of preparing and uploading the entire application online based on the documents and information you provide us, and when everything is ready we will walk you through how to review and approve the application for filing.

The application will include all of the documentation you have gathered, as well as all the necessary forms and applicable government processing fees. With CCIS, you will always be able to see exactly what has been prepared, what is being uploaded on your behalf and have total control over what happens and when. CCIS is your guide, but you are always in the driver’s seat.

Once your sponsorship application has been submitted, it will be reviewed by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to determine whether the application is complete for processing and that you are eligible to sponsor your spouse for permanent residence. IRCC will then issue requests for the Applicant to complete an immigration medical examination with an IRCC-designated physician and complete a biometrics appointment. A biometrics appointment takes place either at a ServiceCanada location in Canada or a Visa Application Centre (VAC) abroad where you will provide your digital photo and fingerprints. They may also request any additional documents they deem necessary, though this is rare since at CCIS we make sure that the initial application is thorough and impeccably well-documented.

Many applicants believe that at some point IRCC will ask them to attend an interview where they are interrogated about their relationship. While this is possible, in our experience it is very rare. If IRCC is calling for an interview, it may mean that they have some reason to doubt the genuiness of your relationship. Again, in our extensive experience over hundreds or applications, this almost never happens because our applications are so thoroughly documented, we do our utmost to not give an immigration officer any reason to question the genuiness of relationship.

If you are seeking to sponsor your spouse or common-law partner for Canadian Permanent Residence and have any questions about the process, contact us so we can provide you with the guidance and support you need. Let the experienced Consultants at CCIS show you how we can guide you through the dizzying bureaucracy which is the spouse or common-law partner sponsorship process.

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Spousal Sponsorship FAQ

Q. Can I include accompanying children in a spouse or common-law partner sponsorship PR application?

Absolutely! Dependent children who are biological children or legally adopted can be included as accompanying dependents in a spouse or common-law sponsorship PR application if they are under the age of 22 and do not themselves have a spouse or common law partner. If a child is financially dependent on a parent due to a physical or mental condition and has been relying on their parent for financial support prior to the age of 22, they may still be considered a dependent.

Q. What factors can make me ineligible to sponsor my spouse of common-law partner?

A sponsor can be ineligible to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner if any of the following apply: they try to sponsor someone within 5 years of being sponsored themselves by a previous spouse; if they are under the age of 18; if they are a Permanent Resident living outside of Canada; if they are subject to a removal order; if they are in jail; if they have committed certain types of criminal offenses of a violent or sexual nature and 5 years have not yet elapsed since they completed their sentence; if they have defaulted on a previous sponsorship undertaking because someone they sponsored became reliant on social services; if they are in default of spousal or child support payments ordered by a court; if they are in default of a debt owed under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act; if they are an undischarged bankrupt; if they are unable to demonstrate sufficient income to provide for the basic needs of the people they are sponsoring; and if they are in receipt of social assistance other than reasons of disability.

Q. Can I sponsor my spouse or common-law partner if I am not living in Canada?

Sponsors who are Permanent Residents can only sponsor if they are living in Canada. This does not mean that the sponsor must necessarily be in Canada for the entire duration of the application process, so the sponsor can travel abroad to visit their spouse while the application is being processed.
Only Canadian Citizens can sponsor their spouse or common-law partner while the sponsor is living outside of Canada, and only if they include sufficient evidence to show that they have a genuine intent to relocate to Canada upon the approval of the PR application. Evidence of genuine intent to relocate to Canada can include things like evidence of seeking or already having employment and a residence in Canada; seeking suitable schooling for any accompanying children; seeking fee quotes from shipping companies for when they ship their possessions to Canada; evidence of family ties and a support system in Canada, etc. There is no strict criteria that IRCC uses to assess this issue of genuine intent to relocate to Canada, so this issue can be treated very differently depending on which processing office and immigration officer is reviewing your application.

Q. For how long am I responsible for supporting my spouse or common-law partner?

In a spouse or common-law partner sponsorship application, the sponsor signs an agreement promising that they will provide for the basic needs of the person they are sponsoring. This is called a “sponsorship undertaking”. The obligation to provide for the basic needs of the people you are sponsoring takes effect on the day they become a permanent resident and lasts for a period of time which is determined based on who the sponsored person is. For spouses and common-law partners and dependent children over the age of 22, the length of undertaking is three years. For children under the age of 22, the length of undertaking is 10 years, or until age 25, whichever comes first. Other Family Class sponsorship categories have different lengths of undertaking. For example, the length of undertaking in Parent sponsorships is 20 years. Note that sponsorships in the province of Quebec have different lengths of undertaking as determined by the provincial immigration authority.

Q. Are there additional requirements for sponsoring my spouse or common-law partner if I live in Quebec?

Yes. If you live in or plan to live in the province of Quebec, there is an additional step you will need to complete in order to have your sponsorship approved by the province of Quebec, in addition to the Federal Permanent Residence approval issued by IRCC. The Federal PR application is submitted to IRCC as with all spouse or common-law partner sponsorships elsewhere in Canada, but when IRCC sees from your application forms that you intend to reside in Quebec, they will issue a letter instructing you to submit an application to the appropriate provincial office in Quebec. You must then complete a number of forms including a provincial sponsorship undertaking, as well as pay a processing fee to the Province of Quebec. When Quebec approves your sponsorship application, they will notify IRCC directly that the Quebec portion of the process has been approved and then IRCC will continue to process and finalize the Federal PR application.

Q. Can I sponsor my fiancée/fiancé or boyfriend/girlfriend under the Conjugal Partner sponsorship category?

Usually not. Canada does not have a category that allows people to sponsor their foreign fiancée/ fiancé or boyfriend/girlfriend. Canada does have a Conjugal Partner sponsorship category, which many people often misunderstand as being a category that would allow for the sponsorship of a fiancée/ fiancé or boyfriend/girlfriend. The reality of this sponsorship category is far more restrictive than that. A Conjugal Partner is a person who is living outside Canada; is in a conjugal (or marriage-like) relationship with the sponsor for at least one year, and cannot live with the sponsor as a couple because of reasons beyond their control (e.g. legal or immigration barriers, religious reasons or sexual orientation).
You can sponsor a conjugal partner if: there is a significant degree of attachment between the two of you, implying not just a physical relationship but a mutually interdependent relationship, and you’ve been in a genuine relationship for at least 12 months where marriage or cohabitation hasn’t been possible because of barriers such as sexual orientation, religious faith, etc.
On the surface, these criteria appear as though they might cover some fiancée/fiancé or boyfriend/girlfriend scenarios, but the important thing to remember is that the Conjugal Partner category is generally viewed as a category of last resort for couples in exceptional or extenuating circumstances for whom marriage or 12+ months of cohabitation is truly not possible. As such, couples who are able to travel to each other’s country, or even to a third country to get married, and couples who have no serious issue preventing them from living together are likely to be refused.
Again, the Conjugal Partner category is for scenarios where a marriage or common-law partnership is impossible or very dangerous, usually due to marital status (usually in countries where divorce is not possible) or due to sexual orientation (usually in countries where homosexuality is illegal) combined with an immigration barrier (i.e. the foreign spouse is unable to leave their country due to an inability to obtain exit visas, or fear of repercussions for trying to do so). Situations involving an inability to marry or live together due to religious laws or war and conflict can also be factors that IRCC can consider in their assessment of a Conjugal Partner sponsorship application.
In short, if you have any option to marry or live together, even if it is difficult or inconvenient, then the Conjugal Partner category is likely not suitable for you.

Q. What is the difference between the Inside-Canada stream and the Outside-Canada stream?

The Inside-Canada stream (also known as the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class) can be used when the sponsor and applicant spouse or common-law partner are already living together in Canada, and the applicant has valid status in Canada (or is eligible to be exempt from needing valid status thanks to an IRCC policy that forgives spouses and common-law partners who have overstayed their status). It is also possible to apply for an open work permit for your foreign spouse under the Inside-Canada stream. There is a misconception that if you file under the Inside-Canada stream that you must remain inside Canada for the entire duration of the application process. While remaining inside Canada for the entire duration of processing can be a good idea for many couples, it is not a strict requirement. Instead, IRCC just needs to be satisfied that the couple are predominantly residing together in Canada. If an officer has doubts that you are actually living together in Canada, there is a chance they could decide that you are not meeting the eligibility requirements of the category, cancel it and tell you to re-file under the Outside-Canada stream instead. Each couple needs to assess their personal circumstances to determine whether travel outside of Canada during the processing of their application is a wise choice. For example, if the foreign spouse is a U.S. citizen and the couple want to make intermittent visits to the USA to visit family and go on vacation, that is a very low risk scenario that is unlikely to pose any concerns about whether the couple is predominantly residing in Canada since the U.S. partner can easily return to Canada after temporarily visiting the U.S. or another country. If on the other hand, the foreign spouse is from a country that requires a visa to return to Canada and they do not have a valid entry visa, then exiting Canada might be a bad idea as they have no guarantee that they will be approved for an entry visa when they want to return to Canada. If they are unable to return to Canada and fulfill the requirements of the Inside-Canada stream for any reason, the application could be refused. Also note there is no option to file an Appeal if the application is refused under the Inside-Canada stream.
The Outside-Canada stream (also called the Family Class) is a bit of a misnomer, because applicants can apply under this stream whether they are both living outside of Canada, or the sponsor is in Canada while the sponsored partner is living abroad, or this stream can also be used if both the sponsor and applicant are living together inside Canada. Many couples have no other option than to file via the Outside-Canada stream if their circumstances don’t make living together in Canada an option (either due to an inability to get a Canadian visa for the sponsored spouse, or due to work or other commitments abroad. For those couples who have the option of filing under either stream, the Outside-Canada processing stream can still be the better option if the couple does not plan to stay in Canada for the majority of the time, or if they want to maintain maximum flexibility to travel without worrying they might be outside of Canada too long for their application to be processed under the Inside-Canada stream, or in some circumstances, to take advantage of faster processing times under the Outside-Canada stream. Note there is no option to also apply for an open spousal work permit under the Outside-Canada/Family Class stream. The Outside-Canada/Family Class stream does allow for Appeals for refused applications.