Spousal sponsorship is a key component of Canada’s immigration system.
Under its Immigration Levels Plan 2021-2023, Canada aims to welcome 80,000 new immigrants per year through its Spousal, Partner, and Children category. The vast majority of these immigrants will arrive as the spouses and partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
The processing of spousal sponsorship applications has been delayed throughout the coronavirus pandemic, however Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) should be able to get its processing standards back on track once COVID-19 has been contained.
If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, here is information on how you can sponsor your loved one for immigration to Canada.
Overview of the sponsorship process
Citizens and permanent residents of Canada may sponsor their spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner to obtain permanent resident status.
IRCC must approve of the Canadian citizen or permanent resident (the “sponsor”) and the foreigner (the “sponsored person”). To receive approval, the sponsor and sponsored person must demonstrate to IRCC their relationship falls under of the following categories (note that Canada recognizes same-sex relationships):
- Common-law partner
- Conjugal partner
Who can sponsor
Canadian citizens and permanent residents may be eligible to sponsor if they meet this criteria:
- They are at least 18 years old.
- They are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, or they are registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act. Canadian citizens living abroad must demonstrate to IRCC they plan to live in Canada with their partner once their partner becomes a permanent resident. Permanent residents must be residing in Canada to be eligible to sponsor.
- They demonstrate they are not receiving social assistance unless they have a disability.
- They can provide for the financial needs of the sponsored person.
Who can be sponsored
Any of the following three groups can be sponsored. All sponsored persons must be at least 18 years old:
- Spouse: The spouse of the Canadian citizen or permanent resident needs to be legally married to the sponsor.
- Common-law partner: If the partner is not legally married to the sponsor, they must have been living with the sponsor for at least 12 consecutive months.
- Conjugal partner: If the partner is not legally married to the sponsor, but has been in a relationship with the sponsor for at least one year, resides outside of Canada, and is unable to marry the sponsor, IRCC may recognize the relationship as a conjugal partnership. Reasons why marriage may not be possible include cultural, religious, or legal reasons.
How to apply for spousal sponsorship
IRCC asks for two applications to be submitted together at the same time: the sponsorship application and permanent residence application.
Step 1: Find out if you are eligible to sponsor.
Step 2: Get IRCC’s application package.
Step 3: Pay necessary fees on IRCC’s website. Fees usually include processing fees, right of permanent residence fee, and biometrics fee.
Step 4: Mail the two applications together to IRCC.
Responsibilities after IRCC approves the application
Couples must fulfil certain responsibilities once IRCC approves their application:
- Sponsors are financially responsible for their loved one for at least three years.
- Sponsored persons are not allowed to sponsor another person for five years after they have been sponsored.