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  • Writer's pictureC&A Insights Team

Complete Guide to Spousal Sponsorship in Canada

Updated: May 15

Falling in love is simple. But navigating complicated immigration programs to bring your partner to Canada is not. We have created this guide to help simplify the process of spousal sponsorship so that you can reunite with your loved ones as quickly as possible!

Table of Contents

Complete Guide to Spousal Sponsorship in Canada

What is Spousal Sponsorship in Canada?

Spousal sponsorship is a Canadian program for immigrants. It was created to keep loved ones together, which is a priority for the Canadian government. Essentially this program allows you to sponsor your partner for a permanent residency application so that they can live with you in Canada.

What are the requirements to sponsor a spouse?

You (the sponsor):

  1. must be a permanent resident of Canada or a Canadian citizen.

  2. must be at least 18 years old

  3. must not be a prisoner or convicted of any crime in Canada.

  4. must be able to provide financial assistance for you.

  5. must not be assisted financially by the Canadian government.

Your Partner (the person being sponsored):

  1. must be at least 18 years old

  2. must not be inadmissible to Canada.

  3. must be a spouse, common-law partner, or in a conjugal relationship with the sponsor

What are the Categories of Spousal Sponsorship?

Spousal sponsorship can be applied for three kinds of relationships - your spouse, your common-law partner, or your conjugal partner.

1. Marriage

The marriage will be recognized by Canadian immigration authorities as long as the marriage is legally performed in any country and is consistent with the laws of Canada. A valid certificate of marriage will need to be supplied for verification.

2. Common-Law Partnership

A common-law partnership constitutes two adults who have been living together in a marriage-like relationship continuously for one year. This relationship has the same legality as a traditional marriage in terms of immigration. The sponsorship process for a common-law partnership is more complicated because evidence must be provided in the form of shared bills or a lease or rental agreement with the names of both parties.

3. Conjugal Partner Relationship

A conjugal partnership describes two adults who have been in a marriage-like relationship but whose circumstances have not allowed them to live together continuously for one year. In terms of immigration, the difficulty in this type of relationship is proving that the relationship is truly marriage-like. It’s also necessary to give a valid enough reason as to why residing together has not been an option. This will only be considered if there are real reasons the couple cannot live together and is not merely based on convenience. Authorities will need to see proof that the coupling is not a sham for the purpose of Canadian citizenship.

What is the processing time for spousal sponsorship in Canada?

The spousal sponsorship process usually takes approximately one year to gain final approval for inland and outside Canada sponsorships. Missing information or poorly prepared applications can delay approval.

You can check the current processing times for IRCC to process spousal sponsorship applications at this link: Check Current Processing Times for Spousal Sponsorship

Inland vs Outland Sponsorship

What is Inland Spousal Sponsorship?

To be eligible for an Inland spousal sponsorship, the applicant and their spouse/common-law partner must be living together in Canada. An advantage of the inland spousal sponsorship process is that some applicants will be eligible for a spousal open work permit.

What is Outland spousal sponsorship?

An outland spousal sponsorship is intended for applicants looking to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner for a Canadian permanent residence, regardless of the place of residence of the spouse or common-law partner. 

Not sure what you should be applying for? Book a Consultation with a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) to get the answers you need!

Spousal Sponsorship vs Express Entry 

Express Entry is an alternative pathway to permanent residency. The success of spousal sponsorship versus express entry is dependent on the application itself. Here is a quote from Chitra Bhatia, RCIC: 

"Express Entry is ultimately an easier process to follow for permanent residency. It involves a more straightforward application and no requirement for the sponsor taking responsibility for the person they are sponsoring. However, if you do not qualify for Express Entry or your score is quite low, a spousal sponsorship application may be the way to go. It depends from person to person, and a lot of factors are at play here. Make sure you seek advice in order to avoid long processing times and refusals." - Chitra Bhatia, RCIC

Need guidance on which path to choose? Book a consultation with an RCIC. 

Common Reasons for Refusal of Spousal Sponsorship Applications

There are so many reasons why your spousal sponsorship application may be denied. These reasons range from as little as a mistake in your application form to using incorrect information. The list of refusals for sponsorship applications is endless, but they include:

  1. The main reason for refusal we see is insufficient proof of relationship. It is often required for the applicant to go above and beyond the minimal document requirements to convince the officer that the relationship is genuine.

  2. Deliberate or unintentional misinterpretation of the application form shall lead to denial of spousal sponsorship. You must interpret all details correctly in your application form and make sure all parties involved in the application provide accurate information.

  3. Canadian citizens and permanent residents in Canada can be a sponsor of a spousal sponsorship application. If otherwise, say, the sponsor is a Canadian citizen living outside Canada. This can lead to an automatic refusal of the application.

  4. A sponsor living in Canada does not mean they are eligible to sponsor your application; you must meet the requirements for you to be a sponsor. This includes being an adult (18 years and above), having no criminal record, having no financial debt, etc. All these can lead to a refusal of your application if your sponsor does not meet the requirements.

  5. As a prospective immigrant, you must be eligible for sponsorship. This means officially married or in a common-law relationship to a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident in Canada. This also includes having a clean criminal record, good health, etc. These reasons can make you ineligible for sponsorship leading to a refusal of the spousal sponsorship application.

Want to ensure you are preparing a strong application for spousal sponsorship? Book a review of your full application to get a professional assessment of whether or not you have sufficient documentation in your file, and how you can make a more convincing case.


Why You Might Need A Consultant for Your Spousal Sponsorship Application

The application process is very stressful and can take lots of time. You must give detailed attention to every document needed and make sure you fill them correctly and thoroughly. An infinitesimal error can make your application process null and void. Spousal application form ranges from 120 to 150 pages, including both government forms and evidence documents, and could be as many as 200 pages when the documents are translated.

Most importantly, with spousal sponsorship applications, the application often goes beyond the document checklist provided by the government. If your case is even a little complex, it becomes essential to understand where your application is lacking and what kind of documentation would convince the visa officer that you deserve permanent residency.

There have been cases of illegal applications from immigrants, and this has made the Canadian government very strict when it comes to reviewing and granting approvals to these applications.

The immigration requirements and procedure can be quite overwhelming, and that is why you need a consultant who is tested and trusted when processing your application. Hiring a consultant for your visa application eases the stress for you and makes the process straightforward and comfortable. It helps you to save time, energy, and money especially, most consultants especially Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs), are well informed and educated about the process and therefore provide thorough information for you regarding your application process. Also, if you need help translating documents or filling out the required forms and do not know how to go about it, consultants can guide you through this situation. Before you hire any consultant, you are free to do the necessary research and review the consultant you would like to hire.

How do you apply for spousal sponsorship in Canada?

The spousal sponsorship application process has four steps:  

1. Getting two application packages. 

One application package will be for the Sponsor and the other for the Spouse/Common-Law Partner. The application package will include a document checklist, information forms, and instruction guides. 

2. Paying the application fees

These fees will include processing fees for the sponsor and spouse/common-law partner, the right of permanent residence fee, and the biometrics fee. 

3. Submitting your application

You will submit both sponsor and spouse/common-law partner applications together. You can use regular mail or a courier service to submit your application.

4. Provide additional information

While the application is being processed, the spouse/common-law partner will need to submit biometrics, medical exams, and police certificates.

Are you representing your spouse/common-law partner in their application? Click here to book a consultation with our experienced RCIC

What do I do if I get a refusal for spousal sponsorship?

The first step after you get a refusal is to understand WHY you got a refusal. In order to do this, you can request the visa officer's notes for your application. Once we understand why you got a refusal, we can determine what additional documents you need to provide to re-apply and provide sufficient convincing evidence, and if it is even feasible to do so. 

How much does it cost to sponsor your spouse/common-law partner? The government of Canada requires the following fees: 

  1. Sponsorship fee $75

  2. Principal Applicant (Sponsor) application processing fee $475 

  3. Right of Permanent Residence fee $500

  4. Biometrics $85 per person

Note: These fees change based on application details, for example, an additional $150 is required for dependent children. Additionally, the fees change for inland and outland applications. Book a consultation with our RCIC to learn more.

How We Can Help

We are a leading professional immigration expert in Canada located in British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. We assist in all kinds of visa and immigration applications. For spousal sponsorship specifically, we offer three levels of service:

1. Review & Consult - This is for those of you who want to do the application yourselves, but want to run it by a professional to make sure your application is complete. A Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant will review your application and flag corrections. Most importantly, they will also guide you on additional documentation you should include to strengthen your application, as we often end up including more documents than required by IRCC for our clients.

2. Guided Application - This is for those of you who want to do the application yourselves, but want more guidance along the way. We will give you a document checklist and application instructions, and conduct multiple reviews. 

3. Full Representation - We represent you and handle the painful paperwork associated with a spousal sponsorship application. We will represent you to IRCC, and complete your application, while you get to enjoy Canada with your spouse (or at least look forward to it). 

You can see our complete pricing and services here

Why Choose Us?

These requirements and the immigration application process can be hectic and stressful. But that is why we're here. We will handle the stress and paperwork for you, and ensure you are giving this important application your best shot. We are regulated by the Canadian government and well-informed about the rules and requirements to follow when applying for any immigration sponsorship. Most importantly, we save your money, time, and energy and our clients are always satisfied with our services.

We have experience in complex spousal sponsorship applications. We provide services for LGBTQ+ spousal sponsorship applications as well. Fill out this assessment form below to see if you qualify for spousal sponsorship, and an RCIC will be in touch with you to discuss how we can get started. 

Unsure about preparing your application for Spousal Sponsorship?

We can help. Our experts can help you prepare a strong spousal sponsorship application and get your loved ones to Canada as soon as possible.

A Cautionary Note: The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained, and the readers are asked to refer to the government website for the most updated information.


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