Spousal Sponsorship Application

Spousal Sponsorship Application

Spousal Sponsorship Application

The Government of Canada welcomes Canadian permanent residents and citizens to sponsor their spouse or partner to become a permanent resident as well.

The goal is family reunification and giving partners the ability to be together with their loved ones.

As long as the primary purpose of your relationship is not immigration, if you are married (or living in a common-law or conjugal relationship with your partner for at least one year), then under certain conditions, you may be eligible to sponsor your partner for Canadian permanent residence.

Eligibility to Spousal Sponsorship Application:

In order to be recognized as a legitimate sponsor, you must:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
  • Be 18 years of age or older;
  • Have the financial ability and means to support whomever you sponsor after they arrive;
  • Must not be convicted of a violent or sexual offense or be imprisoned.

There are three types of relationships through which you can sponsor your partner:

  1. Married: This is a typical and traditional marriage, through which you have been legally married, granted a marriage certificate, or had the marriage ceremony performed by an officiant of some kind.
  2. Common-Law: You have been living with your partner in a conjugal relationship for at least one full year.
  3. Conjugal Partnership: You are in a conjugal partnership with your partner, though neither common-law status nor marriage is possible, usually because of marital status or sexual orientation, combined with an immigration barrier.

Same-sex relationships also qualify under the Spousal Sponsorship Program.

When you submit your application, you must prepare and submit all the requisite and necessary forms, information, and documentation.

You will also be required to sign an undertaking, promising to give financial support for the basic needs of your spouse or partner and their dependent children.

Processing times of sponsorship applications

Once you apply, this process usually takes approximately 12 months, though the length of time can change depending on the demand.

It’s important to be patient and complete the application thoroughly, completely, and honestly.  If there are any inconsistencies or unanswered questions with your application, it will lead to the rejection of your application.  We encourage you to hire a lawyer with specific knowledge of this area of law so that he/she can increase your chances of filing a successful application.  Our immigration law department at Hummingbird Lawyers LLP has a stellar reputation and track record with respect to Spousal Sponsorships.

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Spousal Sponsorship Application from Inside Canada

If you are already with your spouse or common-law partner in Canada, then you have an opportunity to sponsor them from within Canada.

Your partner should ideally have a valid status in Canada for the period of time that it will take to process the application.

They will also have an opportunity to apply, along with their permanent residence application, for a work permit, which will give them the ability to remain in Canada and work while their PR application is being processed.

As a rule of thumb, people who are applying for permanent residence from within Canada are encouraged to remain in Canada until the processing of their application is complete.

Spousal Sponsorship Application from Overseas

While this process is more complicated than if you were already in Canada, overseas applications tend to get processed in about half the waiting time; typically about 6 months, though processing times can vary depending on a variety of circumstances.

If applying from overseas, you will need to be found eligible to sponsor your spouse.

At that point, you’ll be assigned a file number, and steps will be taken to process your application.

Once it is approved, your overseas spouse will be asked to submit their passport to a visa processing office, to receive a visa to travel to Canada.

Upon arrival, they will be landed as a Canadian permanent resident.

What information should I provide in my application?

In order for your application to be successfully processed without further delay, it is imperative that you complete all forms. You will be asked to provide information such as the following:

  • Marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Birth certificates
  • Information about children
  • Divorce certificate (if applicable)
  • Any military or civil documents (if applicable)

For your reference and convenience, See the information about Sponsor your spouse, partner, or child.

One of the most important things that any officer reviewing your application will be looking for, is evidence of the genuineness of your relationship.

For this reason, it is helpful to submit any and all information and documentation that you think will help an officer reach the conclusion that you are in a legitimate and genuine relationship.

This may include email and text messages, photos, cards, letters of support from family members, proof of cohabitation over the years, etc.

It helps to provide as much information as possible to clear up any potential questions that an officer may have about your relationship.

What happens after I am approved?

Once approved by the IRCC, you will receive permanent residence status.  After the requisite period of time, you will be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship as well.

The immigration team at Hummingbird Lawyers LLP has ample experience with spousal sponsorship applications, citizenship applications, and other forms of permanent residence applications.

We give the highest priority to family reunification efforts, and know how important it is for spouses and children to be together with their parents.

For this reason, we are more than happy to help bring your family together in Canada.

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FAQ About Spousal Sponsorship Application

Does the Government of Canada recognize proxy marriages as valid for the purpose of spousal sponsorship applications?

It is important to note that even though there are a number of countries, traditions and religions that allow proxy marriages (i.e. marriages to be performed when both spouses are not physically present for the ceremony), the Government of Canada does not recognize such marriages as valid. You must fit into one of the criteria as either married, common law, or conjugal partners.

How long is the undertaking I sign to sponsor my spouse valid for?

Before signing the undertaking, you need to make sure the people you are sponsoring won’t need to ask the government for financial help. The undertaking is a binding promise of support and will stay in effect for the length of the undertaking period, which is 4 years from the day your spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner becomes a permanent resident (except for in Quebec). The length of validity of an undertaking is different for a dependent child as well.

When I sponsor my spouse, is it enough that I am just separated from my previous spouse, or do I have to be formally divorced?

For all intents and purposes, you must make sure that you are formally divorced from your previous spouse before applying to sponsor your new spouse. The Government of Canada does not recognize polygamy (being married to two people at the same time) as being legal, and if the reviewing officer believes that you may still be legally married to another person when you submit your spousal sponsorship application, your application will be refused.

Do I have any options to challenge a decision if my spousal sponsorship application is refused?

Yes, you always have options to challenge a refusal made by an officer of IRCC. In the case of spousal sponsorships, there are two ways to challenge a refusal.

For inland sponsorship applications (i.e. those made within Canada), your only option is to commence an application for leave and judicial review at the Federal Court of Canada. An application for judicial review at the Federal Court will only allow you to challenge the refusal on the basis of the evidence that was before the officer at the time the decision was made.

For overseas applications, however, you will first have an application to appeal the refusal to the Immigration Appeal Division (“IAD”). At the IAD, assuming you have properly applied to sponsor a family member, you will have an opportunity to have a hearing de novo. This means that you will have an opportunity to have a hearing from scratch, being able to introduce all the evidence you need, with all the submissions you require, to try and prove that you are in a genuine relationship that was not entered into primarily for the purpose of immigration. At the IAD, a Member of the Panel will then be able to make a determination about the validity of your relationship and application.

If your application is refused at the IAD, then you will have an opportunity to pursue an application for leave and judicial review at the Federal Court as well.

Contact An Immigration Lawyer Today

If you need help with a temporary residence permit, please call us and we would be happy to help you.

Contact Hummingbird’s Toronto immigration lawyers for more information about Spousal Sponsorship Application.

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    Adam Hummel is an Associate Lawyer in the Immigration practice, and Wills & Estates practice groups at Hummingbird Lawyers LLP.

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