Sponsoring a Spouse to Canada from Abroad

If you’re a Canadian citizen living abroad and you have a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner or a dependent child you wish to sponsor for permanent residency in Canada, you can in fact go ahead and apply to sponsor them even though you live outside Canada. But you’ll have to meet an additional requirement, along with the other sponsor eligibility requirements.

Basic Eligibility to Sponsor

First, let’s review what the basic sponsor requirements are:

  • 18 years or older
  • A Canadian citizen, or a Canadian Permanent Resident living in Canada, or a registered Indian under the Canadian Indian Act
  • Living in Canada
  • If you were yourself sponsored, you cannot sponsor someone else until 5 years from the date you landed in Canada. (In force since March 2, 2012)
  • Able to prove you are NOT receiving social assistance other than disability payments
  • Able to provide for the person(s) you are sponsoring which includes:
    • Providing basic needs (food, shelter, healthcare, education, clothing etc.) for yourself, and
    • For your spouse or partner
    • For your spouse or partner’s dependent children
    • For your dependent children (if you’re sponsoring only your dependent child/children)

Finally, if you are sponsoring your dependent spouse’s dependent children’s dependent children then you must meet a Low Income Cut Off or LICO income rate – this is a monthly minimum income which you must prove you will be or are earning – which is given by Canada’s immigration authorities and varies with the total number of dependents being sponsored.

As you can see, this income requirement does not hold in most cases of spousal sponsorship, but if you are sponsoring your spouses (and/or your) grandchildren it will apply

 

Additional Requirement When the Sponsor is Outside of Canada

So, what is the additional requirement?

Well as you can see, third on our list of basic requirements is the requirement to live in Canada. Obviously, this requirement can be waived only for Canadian citizens, not permanent residents. As a permanent resident, you must be living in Canada in order to sponsor a spouse or dependent children. But there is an additional obligation if you are a Canadian citizen living abroad who wishes to sponsor a spouse or partner and/or dependent children.

You must show that you will be coming to Canada to live with your spouse/partner and/or dependent children. In other words, you must demonstrate your intent to come to Canada and live once your sponsorship – and your spouse’s application as well – are accepted.

So how do you show intent? You have to demonstrate to Canadian immigration authorities that on what is called the balance of probabilities, you will move back to Canada and reside there with your sponsored spouse and any dependent children that you are also sponsoring.

 

Proving Intent to Settle in Canada

Do you intend to reside in Canada with your sponsored foreign nationals?

There have been a number of appeals to IRCC’s Immigration Appeal Division (IDA) regarding cases where a Canadian Citizen who was living abroad was rejected by immigration authorities because they were not convinced the sponsor would in fact return to Canada and reside there. While some of these appeals were successful and the rejection was overturned, the IDA also established a set of criteria for evaluating the intent to return of a Canadian Citizen living overseas:

  • Does the person maintain a residence in Canada?
  • Do their spouse and children reside in Canada?
  • Does the person maintain personal and financial assets in Canada?
  • Does the person pay Canadian income tax on their global income?
  • Does the person maintain any investments in Canada?
  • Does the person visit Canada whenever they can?
  • Does the person maintain bank accounts, health insurance, or things like club memberships in Canada?

If you have been living overseas for a number of years, many of the above criteria may not apply to you, but this does not necessarily mean that you would be rejected as a sponsor of your spouse and/or dependent children. The above list is the IDA’s and IRCC’s guideline for interpreting the following section (130.2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR):

Sponsor not residing in Canada

(2) A sponsor who is a Canadian citizen and does not reside in Canada may sponsor a foreign national who makes an application referred to in subsection (1) and is the sponsor’s spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner or dependent child who has no dependent children, if the sponsor will reside in Canada when the foreign national becomes a permanent resident.

The key phrase is “if the sponsor will reside in Canada when the foreign national becomes a permanent resident“.

 

Putting Together a Settlement Plan

So, in order to help your application as a sponsor living abroad, you need to put together a plan that lays out how you will return to and settle in Canada. It should include things like:

  • Your residence in Canada: Including where you plan to live and whether you will rent or own house or apartment/condominium.
  • Your source of income: Do you have a job lined up? Or do you have sufficient savings? Do you have plans to set up a business once back in Canada? Are you planning on relocating your current business (if you own one) to Canada? Do you work online and are able to work from any location? What will your income be in Canada?
  • Remember as part of any sponsorship application and agreement, you have to demonstrate you can and will provide the basic necessities for your sponsored spouse and/or dependents.
  • Will you need to upgrade any certifications, qualifications, or diplomas/degrees etc. in order to exercise your profession/trade? Do you have a plan for this?
  • Have you obtained health insurance for your spouse/dependents for the period of waiting before they qualify for a provincial/territorial healthcare plan?
  • Have you arranged to move your belongings overseas back to Canada?

In other words, these are the things you should be planning anyway if you intend to return to Canada with your spouse/dependents. Plan it out carefully and put together a written plan with any necessary supporting documentation, and you should be able to convince immigration authorities in Canada that you are not merely acting as a conduit for partner or spouse in order to help them gain permanent residence status.

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