How Canadians Can Sponsor Their Spouse or Partners From Abroad

Most times Canadians need to be in Canada in order to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner for permanent residence, but not always.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) allows Canadian citizens to apply to sponsor their spouses, common-law partners, dependent children and conjugal partners from abroad. However, they need to prove that they will move back to Canada when their sponsored family member becomes a permanent resident.

How they prove that they will move back to Canada depends on their individual circumstances and why they want to return. For instance, if the couple wants to move to Canada for work they might support their sponsorship application with a confirmation of employment. If they are looking into daycares or schools they could also lodge documents in support of their search. If the couple purchased a home they could send in the land title, or communications with realtors. Every case will be different, and the final outcome depends on the visa officer who is reviewing the file.

Although permanent residents are allowed to sponsor their spouses while in Canada, only people with citizenship status can start the spousal sponsorship process from abroad.

Canada is still processing spousal sponsorship applications amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino recently said that Canada is working to process 49,000 of these applications in 2020. The new immigration levels plan is calling for about 80,000 spouses, partners, and children to be sponsored per year over the next three years. IRCC aims to process new spousal sponsorship applications in 12 months.

IRCC’s Eligibility Requirement

You can sponsor your spouse if:

  • You are at least eighteen (18) years old.
  • You are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident.
  • If you are a Canadian citizen living overseas, you must demonstrate that you plan to stay in Canada with the sponsored person when they become a permanent resident.
  • A permanent resident is qualified to sponsor their partner if the permanent resident lives in Canada.
  • you are not receiving social assistance for reasons other than having a disability problem.
  • you can financially cater to the basic needs of the sponsored person.

Who you can sponsor

  • Spouse: Your spouse must be legally married to you and at least eighteen (18) years old.
  • Common-law partner: Is not married to you legally, is at least eighteen (18) years old and has been living with you for at least twelve (12) consecutive months.
  • Conjugal partner: Is not legally married to you, is at least eighteen (18) years old, has been in a relationship with you for a minimum of one year, lives outside of Canada, and can not live with you in their country of residence or marry you due to significant legal and immigration reasons. Such reasons can include their sexual orientation, marital status, persecution. You must be able to prove you could not live together or get married in your conjugal partner’s country.

How to apply

There are two applications to sponsor your spouse or partner, which IRCC asks you to lodge together at the same time. They are the sponsorship application and permanent residence application.

  • Step 1: Get the application form from IRCC.
  • Step 2: Pay your application fees. Most times, these fees include processing fees, biometrics fee, and the right of permanent residence fee, all of which you need to pay online on IRCC’s website.
  • Step 3: Submit your application through mail to IRCC.

After their application has been successfully submitted, the sponsor is financially responsible for the sponsored person for at least three years. Sponsored persons are not permitted to sponsor someone else for five years after they have been sponsored for Canadian permanent residence.

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