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Canadian Immigration Services 



Spousal Sponsorship to Canada: Requirements, Denial, Processing Time, and Program Updates

Jade Calver

In 2016, the Immigration Department aimed to reduce the backlog of spousal sponsorship cases by 80 percent. According to Canada’s Immigration Minister, Ahmed Hussen, the average processing time of spousal sponsorship applications has been reduced from 26 months to 12 months.

What is the spousal sponsorship program in Canada?
The spousal sponsorship program allows a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to sponsor their spouse, conjugal partner, or common-law partner for permanent residency. There are two types of spousal sponsorship:

  • Inland Spousal Sponsorship: the couple is already living together in Canada and the non-resident partner has a valid temporary status in Canada (as a worker, student, or visitor)
  • Outland Spousal Sponsorship: the couple is not yet living together and one partner resides in a different country

What are the rules for a spouse VISA in Canada?
There are a number of requirements in order to be considered eligible for spousal sponsorship. Some of these rules include:

  • The couple must be legally married, common-law partners, or conjugal partners;
  • The sponsor must at least 18 years old;
  • The sponsor must be a permanent resident or a Canadian citizen;
  • This sponsor must physically reside in Canada;
  • The sponsor must be able to financially support the person they are sponsoring for three years;
  • The sponsor must provide proof that they can provide basic needs for themselves, their partner/spouse, their partner/spouse’s child(ren) (if applicable), and their dependent child(ren) (if applicable)

What is considered a conjugal relationship in Canada?
A common-law relationship is one in which both partners have lived together in a conjugal relationship for a period of one or more years. A conjugal relationship is one in which the common-law partners were unable to live together continuously for one year. A conjugal relationship also applies to spouses whose marriage to their sponsor is not an available option due to marital status or sexual orientation, combined with an immigration barrier.

How long do you have to live together to be considered common law in Ontario?
To be considered common law, you must have lived continuously with your partner in a marital-type relationship for at least one year.

What documents are required for spousal sponsorship?
Some of the documents required for a sponsor include: a Permanent Residency card, proof of Canadian citizenship (Canadian passport, Citizenship card, or birth certificate), and proof of your relationship to the sponsor.
For a full list of required documents, click here.

What happens if my spousal sponsorship is denied?
Spousal sponsorships are subject to denial. You may be denied if you have failed to pay an immigration loan, performance bond, or family support payments. You are also subject to refusal if you have a criminal record. If this happens, there are a number of different remedies for refusal.

How long does it take to sponsor your spouse?
You can check the IRCC processing times by clicking here. These timeframes reflect cases of average (or no) complexity. As such, these should be used as an estimate of the length of time it will take to process your application, rather than a guarantee. It is also important to note that the processing time is calculated from the date your application is received by IRCC.


What are the changes to the spousal sponsorship program?
Changes to the application kit were made following the initial announcement about the aim to cut back on the backlog of cases. Effective March 15, 2018, officials require spousal applicants to submit their background form and police certificates as part of their initial paper application package, instead of later in the application process. This change was made to prevent unnecessary delays.

Do you have a question about spousal sponsorship that wasn’t answered here? Check out our other posts on this topic:

At Calver and Associates, we strive to help you overcome any obstacles to the immigration process. To find out how we can help you, contact us.

Want to stay updated on Canadian immigration news?
Subscribe to our monthly newsletter where we provide you with relevant tips and information.

Calver and Associates Immigration Services
21 Simcoe St S Suite 110, Oshawa, ON L1H 4G1
(289) 677-0108

Immigration to Canada: Police Certificates FAQ

Jade Calver

Do I need a police certificate for Express Entry to Canada?

The Express Entry to Canada program requires applicants to supply a number of documents in the application process. One of the items on the Express Entry document checklist is a police certificate. Police certificates are required for any individual who is over the age of 18 and wishes to immigrate to Canada.

What is a police certificate?

A police certificate is a copy of your criminal record, or a statement that you do not have a criminal record. A police certificate will allow the government to determine if the applicant poses a security risk to Canada. Police certificates may have different names in other countries. Some of which include police clearance certificates, good conduct certificates, or judicial record extracts.

How long is a police certificate valid for? 

The police certificate must have been issued no more than six months before the submission of the Express Entry application.

How do I get a police certificate?

To obtain a police certificate, you must contact the police or government. You will likely need to provide them with personal identification information and documents, such as photographs, fingerprints, and previous home addresses. You may also be required to pay a fee.

When do I submit my police certificate?

 Express Entry candidates have 90 days to submit their police certificate. We recommend you apply for your police certificate as soon as possible to meet this deadline. In addition, if your certificate is not written in an official Canadian language (English or French), you should send along a translation of the document, completed by a certified translator. Police certificates need to be submitted as a scan of the original document, in colour.

What if I have lived in multiple different countries in the past?

The Canadian government has recently issued an update for police certificate requirements for the Express Entry program. Police certificates are now required up front and are mandatory for each country where an individual has spent six months or more in a row within the last 10 years since the age of 18.

What happens if I have a criminal record?

 If you have a criminal record, you may not be allowed to enter or stay in Canada. You may be deemed inadmissible for any criminal convictions inside or outside Canada. If your application has been refused or denied, there are steps you can take to overcome your inadmissibility.

At Calver and Associates, we strive to help you overcome any obstacles to the immigration process. To find out how we can help you, contact us.

Want to stay updated on Canadian immigration news?
Subscribe to our monthly newsletter where we provide you with relevant tips and information.

Calver and Associates Immigration Services
21 Simcoe St S Suite 110, Oshawa, ON L1H 4G1
(289) 677-0108

Increasing Your CRS Score Through Language Proficiency Tests

Jade Calver

In a previous post on the Calver and Associates blog, we addressed some strategies for improving your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score for the Express Entry program. The Canadian government conducts Express Entry draws every two to three weeks, offering a number of applicants an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residency. Those applicants with the highest CRS score are most likely to be selected for an ITA. Your express entry profile will accrue points based on a number of factors, one of which is your proficiency in English and/or French. You can prove your proficiency in Canada’s official languages by taking a government-approved language test.

The government offers a number of different language tests for skilled immigrants to take prior to applying for the Express Entry program. The accepted English language tests include the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) and International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The accepted French language proficiency test is Test d’evaluation de francais (TEF). All of these tests evaluate individuals based on four main components: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

Language tests are high-point earners for Express Entry. You have the potential to acquire 150 CRS points through English and/or French language proficiency. Take advantage of this opportunity by striving to achieve a high score on your language test. Next, we will further explain how each of the tests evaluates your skills, followed by some tips for preparing for your examination.


There are two types of IELTS tests: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. IELTS Academic is for people applying for higher education or professional registration in an English speaking environment. This test examines your knowledge, understanding, and ability to use academic language in order to determine whether you are ready to study in Canada. IELTS General Training is for those applicants who wish to relocate to an English speaking country for secondary education, work experience, or training programs. This test focuses on basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts. Learn more about the testing format for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training by clicking the hyperlinks.


CELPIP was designed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC); CELPIP was designed for Canadian English, which contains elements of both British and American English. You are only eligible to take the CELPIP test if you currently reside in Canada. This test is best for individuals who have immersed themselves into Canadian culture and have a strong grasp on Canadian English and accents.


TEF assesses the level of proficiency in French of Francophones and non-Francophones alike. If you are a native French speaker, or you would prefer to demonstrate your language skills in French proficiency, the TEF test will suit you best. TEF is a three-hour test split into four sections, which include reading comprehension, listening comprehension, written expression, and oral expression.

Five Test Prep Tips:

  1. Give yourself plenty of time to study; don’t wait until the last minute to review materials.
  2. Spend a small amount of time every day focused on preparing for your test (10-20 minute study sessions add up to make a noticeable difference).
  3. Prepare for the written and oral portions of the test by practising discussing topics that interest you (i.e. sports, fashion, books, music, etc.). 
  4. Watch TV – television shows offer excellent examples of conversational English and French. You may find it helpful to view a show you would typically watch in your native language, in English or French. You will be familiar with the storyline, which will help you to make sense of new words and phrases. You may also choose to observe the show with subtitles; eventually, you can challenge yourself to watch without any text.
  5. Complete practice tests using the links below.

In order to maximize the number of points you earn on your language test, you should prepare as much as possible in advance of your examination. The following links offer examples of test questions in addition to studying tips and reminders. Please consult these for preparation information:




In addition to the previously listed sources, new mobile applications were released in February of this year to help individuals prepare for the IELTS exam. The new mobile apps provide prospective IELTS test takers with speaking and listening tips, mock tests, videos of speaking interviews, quizzes, and assessment explainers. The apps also offer potential topics for speaking and listening tests, in addition to modules on vocabulary and grammar. The apps are available for free on Google Play and in the App Store. Simply search “IELTS Prep App” and/or “IELTS Word Power App.” 

Are you curious to know what your CRS score may be?
Try using the CRS points calculator to get an estimate of what your score may be. 

At Calver and Associates, we strive to help you overcome any obstacles to the immigration process. To find out how we can help you, contact us.

Calver and Associates Immigration Services
21 Simcoe St S Suite 110, Oshawa, ON L1H 4G1
(289) 677-0108

Want to stay updated on Canadian immigration news?
Subscribe to our monthly newsletter where we provide you with relevant tips and information.