Sponsored Partner/Spouse Immigration to Canada
If you do not live in Canada but your spouse or partner holds Canadian citizenship or permanent residence, you have a reason to smile! It’s possible to make an application to immigrate to live with them in Canada. And sponsorship is not limited to married couples. You can also apply as common-law partners or, in select circumstances romantic partners (called conjugal) who have not been able to marry or live together. Also, there are no restrictions based on sexual identity. Same-sex relationships are eligible!
Who can apply
If you were married in Canada, this is the simplest case: you must include your marriage certificate in the application in addition to your other proofs of relationship.
If your marriage was performed outside the county, no need to worry since foreign marriages are also recognized by the government of Canada. The only requirement is that the marriage should be legal under the laws in the nation where the marriage took place. (There is an exception for proxy or polygamous marriages; so basically if the marriage would have been illegal in Canada, it will be treated that way when you apply for sponsorship.)
If you are not married, conjugal and common-law partners must meet the definition as stipulated by Canadian law in order to be considered eligible.
The requirement for common-law partners to be eligible is twofold.
- In the first place, the common-law partner being sponsored must be at least 18 years of age.
- In addition, you must have lived together as a couple for a period not less than one year before submitting your application. You will be required to demonstrate that you have a combined social and financial life together, as well as proving that you have set up house together. Joint bank accounts, joint property ownership and joint utility bills are some of the documents that can be used as proof.
Finally, please remember that if you are being sponsored under the Spouse or Common-law Partner in Canada class, then your spouse or partner must already be living with you in Canada. As well, the spouse or partner being sponsored must have legal immigration status in Canada – in other words, you must have a temporary resident status. You can apply for an open spousal work permit as part of the inland sponsorship application.
First of all, this category is for partners who are foreign nationals and living abroad. You cannot apply for sponsorship as a conjugal partner if you are already living in Canada. In that case, you need to apply as a common-law partner or get married.
Under the conjugal partner category, your relationship does not necessarily need to be a physical one only, but you must also demonstrate that your relationship has been seriously exclusive for a period not less than a year. In the words of the Canadian immigration authorities, the relationship must be “binding.” As well, you will need to prove that you couldn’t live together or get married in your home country. However, the reason for that cannot be the geographic distance between you. Basically, you must prove that the laws and/or customs of your home country have prevented you from marrying or living common-law.
Usually, the acceptable reason for a conjugal application is sexual orientation. For instance, if your relationship is same-sex and your country does not permit that type of relationship, you can apply for conjugal sponsorship.
However, another reason could be an immigration barrier, such as not being able to leave one’s own country without the government’s approval.
Marital status can also be a reason, for example in a scenario where divorce is forbidden in your country of residence, but you have not been acting as a married couple with your current spouse for some time.
Who can sponsor
To be a sponsor you must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be a Canadian citizen, or a permanent resident who is living in Canada, or a registered Indian under the Indian Act
- If you are a Canadian citizen living outside of Canada, you must show that you plan to live in Canada with your sponsored spouse or partner.
- Please note that if you are a permanent resident but you are living outside of Canada, you cannot sponsor a spouse or partner.
- If your spouse has a dependent child who has their own dependent child, then you the sponsor must meet Low-Income Cut-Off (LICO) to prove you can support them. Otherwise you must only show you will be able to meet their needs.
- You cannot sponsor someone if you are on social assistance in Canada. As well, you cannot sponsor someone if you are in jail, if you have committed a violent or sexual offence, if you are in bankruptcy, if you have failed to pay family support payments, or if you have failed to pay an immigration loan or a performance bond.
- You cannot sponsor someone if you were sponsored by your previous spouse or partner less than 5 years ago.
- You cannot sponsor someone if you sponsored someone else less than 3 years ago.
- You cannot sponsor someone if you have a sponsorship application that is still being processed.
Please remember that as a sponsor you are committing to supporting your sponsored spouse or partner even after they become a permanent resident and/or a Canadian citizen. Even if your situation changes – for example you later separate or divorce – you may still be responsible. Here’s a simple chart giving the length of time you will be responsible for the person you are sponsoring:
|Type of Sponsorship||Length of Time of Responsibility|
|Spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner||3 years from the day your spouse or partner becomes a permanent resident|
|Dependent child over 22 years old||3 years from the day your dependent child over 22 becomes a permanent resident|
|Dependent child under 22 years old||10 years from the day your dependent child under 22 becomes a permanent resident or when your child turns 22. Whichever comes first.|
How to apply
First, you must get your sponsorship application package. The guide is called IMM 5525 and it is available at IRCC's website.
Summary of the Application Process
- Go here to see what forms you need to fill out and what documents are required. This will depend on who you are sponsoring and what country they are residing in. Once you have answered the dropdown questions you then use the link at the bottom of the page to get your application package.
- Remember to print your checklist, check the correct boxes, and place the printed checklist on the top of your application submission.
- If you are using an authorized representative, they must fill in and sign form IMM 5476: Use of Representative.
- You must validate your forms by clicking on the “Validate” button. This will show any errors or missing information in your forms. Once you have corrected these errors your forms will have been validated. You must then sign your forms when they have been printed. Unsigned forms will be returned to you.
The Application Forms
The document checklist for the spousal sponsorship application package you found on IRCC's website will tell you exactly which forms you need to include in the application. These are the mandatory forms:
The sponsor must fill out and sign (if applicable) these forms:
- Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking [IMM 1344] (PDF, 478.72KB)
- Sponsorship Evaluation and Relationship Questionnaire [IMM 5532] (PDF, 2.21MB)
- Use of a Representative (IMM 5476) (PDF, 648.31KB), if using a representative, such as Maxcan Immigration Services. (If you hire Maxcan, we will help you complete the forms.)
The person(s) being sponsored must fill out and sign (if applicable) these forms:
- Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking [IMM 1344] (PDF, 478.72KB) - must be validated online
- Generic Application Form for Canada [IMM 0008] (PDF, 553.83KB) - must be validated online
- Additional Dependants/Declaration [IMM 0008DEP] (PDF, 424.19KB), only there are more than five children
- Schedule A – Background/Declaration [IMM 5669] (PDF, 434.14KB), required for all principal applicants - children must complete their own copies of this form. These forms must be validated online.
- Additional Family Information [IMM 5406] (PDF, 570KB)
- Sponsorship Evaluation and Relationship Questionnaire [IMM 5532 ] (PDF, 2.21MB)
- Use of a Representative (IMM 5476), again, only if using a representative such as Maxcan.
Note: Even if children are not coming to Canada with their parent, they must be declared. If dependent children are not declared on this application they cannot be sponsored later.
Note: If you are unable to validate your forms, you must submit a written explanation to IRCC explaining why you were unable to validate the required forms.
Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking [IMM 1344]
This form must be completed and signed by both the sponsor and the sponsored spouse. The form must be validated online.
Sponsorship Evaluation and Relationship Questionnaire [IMM 5532]
This form needs to be completed by both the sponsor and the sponsored spouse.
Generic Application Form for Canada [IMM 0008]
This is the main application form for the sponsored spouse. This form must be validated online.
Additional Dependents/Declaration [IMM 0008DEP]
This is a supplemental form to the Generic Application necessary to complete if you have more than five dependents.
Schedule A - Background/Declaration [IMM 5669]
The sponsored spouse must complete this form but any dependents must also complete a copy of this form. This form must be validated online.
Additional Family Information [IMM 5406]
This form must be completed by the sponsor.
Use of a Representative [IMM5476]
This form should be completed for one of the two reasons:
- You have hired a representative, such as Maxcan Immigration Services
- The sponsored spouse wants the sponsor to handle all correspondence.
The latter situation is relatively new but now, if the sponsored spouse wants all correspondence to go to the sponsor in Canada, this form must be completed with the sponsor's name as the representative.
Gather Your Documents
As part of the sponsorship application, you must submit documentation proving that your spouse is
- legitimately your romantic partner
- admissible to immigrate to Canada.
The basic list of documents and forms is located in the document checklist. Some countries have "country specific requirements," and so the checklist may change for each country.
The sponsored spouse must provide photocopies the following:
- proof of status in Canada (inland sponsorship only)
- birth certificate
- any additional national identity documents
- marriage certificate or proof of common law status
- divorce or annulment certificates for any previous marriages
- police certificate for the country where you currently live and the country where you spent most of your life
- proof of military service, if applicable.
If your children are also being sponsored you must provide documentation for them as well.
You will need to provide two passport photos according to the specifications.
Certified Copies and Translations
The copies you submit must be certified true copies. Certification is usually performed by a Notary Public. If you are currently in Canada there may be other options.
All documents not in English or French must be translated into either English or French. The translator must provide an affidavit with the translation and these must accompany the certified true copy of the original document.
In addition to providing the required ID, status and relationship documents, you should provide additional proofs of your relationship. This can include but is not limited to:
- photos of your wedding, honeymoon and other trips and vacations
- proof of shared accounts if applicable
- proof of shared accommodation if applicable
- testimonies from family and friends about your relationship
- relationship letter written jointly by the couple.
If you are not sure what you should provide, how much evidence you should provide, or what to include or omit, call Maxcan Immigration at our head office in Markham at 1-416-479-4221 or 1-647-866-9126. The sponsor can call us toll free from within Canada at 855-562-5188.
Pay your fees. Go here to see how you can pay your fees and how to pay online. How you pay your fees will depend on where you are applying from and what type of application you are making. Here is a table showing your fee structure for sponsorship applications:
|Type of Sponsorship||Fees||Total|
|Spouse or Partner||$1040|
|Principal Applicant Fee||$475|
|Right of Permanent Residence||$495|
|Dependent Child (per child)||$150||$1190 for one child|
|Sponsor Dependent Child||$150|
|Overage dependent child||$550|
Next, you can choose to set up your online account with IRCC in order to link your application to your online account and monitor its progress. This is an important step because sponsorship can take a year and you will want to know what's going on. Go here for more information. If you decide to open an online account, you will have received a letter from IRCC when they start to process your application, and it will contain your application number. Use this to link your account as explained in the link mentioned just above. If you choose this method, you will no longer receive letters or emails and all correspondence will go through your IRCC account.
You may need to send additional documents. Read any letter or email or message carefully to make sure you provide precisely the documentation requested by the immigration authorities. If you fail to provide the requested documentation in the stipulated time, your application will be delayed and could even be abandoned.
Finally, when your application has been successfully processed, and your sponsorship has been approved, you will need to prepare for your arrival in Canada. You should have the necessary documents to present to the immigration officer at your port of entry - usually an international airport in Canada. The officer will also ask you questions about your application which you should answer carefully and consistently.
Upon successful application for sponsorship, you will be allowed to enter Canada as a landed immigrant. However, it is possible to get rejected, but that does not mark the end of your endeavors. As long as your application was filed outland, you can file an appeal via your Canadian sponsor to challenge decisions arrived at by the visa office. If your appeal is approved, you still have the right to enter Canada as a landed immigrant.
Seek professional assistance
If you are planning to apply for spousal sponsorship immigration to Canada, you should seek assistance from professionals who have gone through the process countless times. This way, your application will be thoroughly reviewed to ensure that no answers provided can jeopardize your application’s success.
It’s possible to file an appeal if your application is rejected the first time. But you don’t have to risk being rejected as it can create a series of more subsequent rejections.
Simply contact MaxCan Immigration, the experienced immigration experts in Markham, and find out why many immigrants have entrusted us with their family sponsorship visa applications. It’s a sure way to finally be united with your spouse or partner in Canada!
Currently the processing time for all sponsorship applications is listed as 12 months. This is a bit misleading because not all spousal sponsorship applications are the same, both because there are different types of applications, and because different visa offices have different backlogs. However, since the Liberals took power, there has been one generic processing time made public for all sponsorship applications, regardless of visa office and regardless of whether or not the application was inland or outland.
An online crowd-sourcing project to track actual spousal sponsorship processing times shows a much greater variance than 12 months. According to this project, the date you receive your passport request (for your PR visa) can be anywhere from 3 months to 12 months after you submit the application. There are numerous complicating factors however - including country of origin and type of application - and the crowd-sourcing project is flawed like all crowd-sourcing projects, but it's worth knowing that not all applications take 1 year.