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

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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.

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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.

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