Sponsoring your spouse/ common-law partner

Sponsoring your spouse or common-law partner allows for families to be reunited and live together in Canada as permanent residents which can lead to Canadian citizenship. Canada is committed to keeping families together and achieves this through the Family Class Sponsorship for Spousal or Common Law Partners.

The Spousal/ Common Law Sponsorship categories are very similar in nature and allows for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to sponsor their spouse or common law partner to reside in Canada as a permanent resident; if Citizenship and Immigration Canada is satisfied that the relationship is genuine.

Firstly, the sponsor must meet the following eligibility criteria.

Sponsor Eligibility Criteria

  • Must be a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident
  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Be able to provide basic needs for spouse/ partner and any dependants (i.e. Provide food, shelter, clothing etc.)
  • Must be prepared to financially provide for spouse/partner for at least three years should they receive permanent residence
  • Must not have sponsored anyone else, in the past, who has requested financial assistance from the government
  • Must not be bankrupt, in prison, charged with any serious offence or under a removal order
  • Must be legally married to sponsor a spouse OR cohabit for one year continuously to sponsor a common-law partner
  • Must intend to reside with sponsored spouse/partner in Canada

Application Process

It is important to first and foremost determine what type of sponsorship application you will pursue. There are two types of applications; inland and overseas. A refused overseas application can be appealed but a refused inland application cannot be appealed. If you foresee any issues that could arise from your inland application, it may be better to pursue an overseas application.

Processing time

Processing times vary depending on if it is an inland or overseas application. For overseas applications, processing times also differs for different visa offices.

Documents Required

Documents are a crucial element of the application package. You must be prepared to provide up-to-date documents to meet the sponsor eligibility criteria and attest to your relationship.

Sponsor Documents

In addition to the Citizenship and Immigration application form package, you must also include the documents listed below. At A. Princewill Law Firm, to ensure that your application has an increased chance of success, we will usually request additional documents beyond the documents listed below. If you are unable to provide any of the mandatory documents, we may be able to advise you on acceptable substitutes.

  • Canadian Citizens: copy of your passport or birth certificate
  • Permanent Residents: copy permanent resident cards or Confirmation of Permanent Residence or Record of Landing
  • Copy of marriage certificate
  • Identification of a co-signer if applicable
  • If previously married or in a common-law relationship provide:
    • Proof of separation, divorce or annulment
    • Death certificate, if applicable
    • Declaration of severance, if applicable
  • Option C printout from your most recent Notice of Assessment
  • Proof of employment (original employment letter from employer stating duration, hours, pay/salary)
  • Proof of income for the last 12 months (i.e. pay stubs)
  • Any other financial income (i.e. Investments, pension, rental income, special benefits etc)
  • Medical Condition Statement if you have legally adopted the dependent child(ren)

Spouse/Partner Documents

Note: This list of documents may vary depending on your country of citizenship

  • Identity and civil status documents
    • Copy of birth certificate, national identity card, marriage certificate, divorce/separation from previous spouse (if applicable), declaration of severance (if applicable), annulment or death certificate or previous partner (if applicable), photocopy of status documents of any close Canadian relatives
  • Children information (dependent children must be 19 years old or younger)
    • Adoption papers (if applicable)
    • Proof of custody of children
  • Travel documents
    • Copy of passport(s) and travel documents, children must have their own passport. If you live in a country different from your country nationality, you must provide a copy of your visa
  • Proof of relationship to sponsor
    • Wedding photos, pictures of relationship/outings with sponsor, copy of any travel tickets to see one another, trips taken together, letters and emails, phone and skype calls, telephone bills, any gifts or investments together, and jointly owned property etc.
    • In addition, for a common law relationship, provide proof/ history of an ongoing relationship for at least one year
  • Originals of police certificates
    • ORIGINAL Police certificates from you and your dependent children over the age of 18 from countries/ cities you have lived in since turning 18 years old
  • Proof of medical examination
    • CIC provides a list of approved physicians in your country where you can have an upfront medical examination performed
  • Passport photographs

Common Mistakes

Spousal/ Common Law Sponsorship Applications require lots of information, documents and forms. It is easy to make a mistake and delay your application process by many months or even years

One of the biggest mistakes that is commonly made is the type of application a sponsor chooses to pursue. Choosing whether to apply inland or overseas can greatly affect your application results and processing times. It is imperative to know whether or not the application is strong with everything in order or if the application will raise issues and concerns in some areas. As an inland sponsorship application cannot be appealed, if it is refused, the sponsor will not be able to do anything further about the sponsorship. In situations that could raise questions or concerns, an overseas application is better suited. Both have pros and cons and it is important to distinguish whether it is better for the spouse/partner to reside in Canada during the application process, to which they will not be able to re-enter if they leave. Or is it better for the spouse/partner to reside abroad and not be able to enter Canada unless they have a visa.

Another common mistake is providing Citizenship and Immigration Canada out-of-date documents. This will automatically delay and sometimes even deny your application. Most documents only have a validity of 3-6 months. Furthermore, sponsorship forms are constantly being updated, should you submit an application with an old form it will be returned and your process will be delayed.

One of the most challenging parts of the document collection is providing a police certificate. The certificates must be original and in most cases unopened! If the certificate looks tampered with, Citizenship and Immigration Canada will request a new one which will further delay your application process. Obtaining a police certificate can be challenging as some countries/cities do not issue official copies. It is important that the applicant know where to get a police certificate from, it must be recent, and the applicant must account for every single country they have lived in for more than 6 months and how long it takes for them to provide a police certificate so that it will not further delay your application.

Another mistake not providing proper evidence and proof to attest to stated information. This is a crucial step because Citizenship and Immigration Canada expects every fact that is disclosed to be backed up by tangible evidence. Collecting proof can take a while and sometimes it is hard to obtain but it is imperative to send as much proof as you can with your application to avoid it being delayed or refused.

On the forms, the sponsor and applicant must disclose everything that is asked for and not try to withhold information because it can bar them from sponsoring or being sponsored. This includes and information about siblings, children, work places, countries lived it etc.

These are only a few of the many mistakes that can be made while applying for Spousal/ Common-Law Sponsorship. Be sure to double check everything.

How we can help with your spouse/common-law sponsorship application

At A. Princewill Law Firm we understand the importance of being with your significant other and would like to help you achieve it in an expeditious manner. With our many years of experience we know how to strengthen your application and what Citizenship and Immigration Canada are looking for. We can effectively advise and assist you with your forms, documents and we monitor your application even after it is submitted. You will dramatically notice a difference when trying to apply on your own and when applying with our assistance.

Let us help you determine your eligibility by filling out fast and easy free online assessment. One of our skilled immigration practitioners will be able to assess and advise you on your situation.