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Canadian Immigration Services 

Spousal Sponsorship Refusal

Spousal Sponsorship: How to prevent a refusal and handle a returned application

Spousal Sponsorship Application

The spousal sponsorship program allows a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to sponsor their spouse, conjugal partner, or common-law partner for permanent residency. The application process for this program is both lengthy and arduous. Some of the required documents include a proof of citizenship or Permanent Residency(Canadian passport, citizenship card, birth certificate, etc.), and proof of your relationship to the sponsor. With the addition of required government forms and evidentiary documents, a complete application can range from 120-150 pages in length.

What are some possible outcomes after submitting a spousal sponsorship application?


  • In person interviews: It is important to remain calm and truthful during an in-person interview. The visa officer will take detailed notes of the interview and refuse the application if the interviewees were acting in a suspicious manner.
  • Fairness letter: IRCC may request additional information about the couple. In this case, applicants should provide a detailed submission letter with evidence to support the application. We strongly encourage you to seek help from a third party (i.e. immigration consultant or lawyer) if you are asked to submit a fairness letter.
  • Refusal (solution: remedy for refusal): 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.
  • Returned application: if you submitted an incomplete application, the case processing centre (CPC) will return your application after two to two and a half months.

Why might an application be returned?

There are a number of reasons an application may be returned to the applicant. Some of which include:

  • Using outdated / incorrect versions of government forms. Some forms change on a bi-monthly basis. Check to be sure you are using the most up to date version.
  • Answering questions incorrectly. There are approximately 200 questions for applicants to respond to in a spousal sponsorship application. If you don’t understand what a question is asking, contact your registered immigration consultant or IRCC call centre for clarification.
  • Leaving questions blank or unanswered. If a question is not applicable to you, be sure to write “N/A” rather than leaving the field blank.
  • Inadequate or missing required forms, documents, and/or evidence. Spousal sponsorship applications require substantial documentation to prove the genuineness of your relationship. Some documents may include:
    • Photos of the couple (e.g. wedding, engagement, social events, vacations, etc.)
    • Evidence of the communication between the couple (i.e. letters, cards, text messages, e-mails, phone call records, etc.)
  • Incorrect picture specifications. If your photo does not indicate a D.O.B, the Studio Name, Date taken, and there is too much/too little white space around head, the application may be returned.
  • Fingerprints must be taken at an approved biometric collection point.
  • Medical examination performed by a non-designated doctor. Applicants must visit a panel physician. Immigration Canada provides a list per country of doctors available to perform these exams.
  • Submitting application to wrong address. If you submit your application to the wrong visa address, it will likely be returned to you. There is also a chance your documents could be lost.
  • Incorrect fees paid or not included in application.
  • Mixing up the "Principal applicant" and the "Sponsor" on the forms.
  • Country specific requirements are not included or are incorrect.

If your application is returned, this can result in a three month delay.


  • Submit a spousal sponsorship application if it contains untruthful and/or fraudulent information. This is a federal crime and will be treated as such.
  • Include inappropriate photos as part of the photo evidence of your relationship.
  • Hire an immigration consultant BEFORE you have met your partner/spouse.
  • Apply to sponsor a spouse if you are not legally divorced from your previous spouse.

How do I prove the genuineness of my relationship?

There are a number of documents you can submit to prove the realness of your relationship with your spouse or partner. Some examples of evidence include:

  • Emails you have exchanged between each other
  • Copies of birthday cards
  • Love letters
  • FB conversations
  • Wedding invitations
  • Reference letters from close friends or family members that confirm the nature of your relationship
  • Power of attorney
  • Copies of leases
  • Life insurance policies
  • Beneficiaries
  • Copies of bank statements
  • Joint account

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada will take a number of factors into consideration when assessing applications:

  • Compatibility of couple
  • Co-habitation (or lack of)
  • Length of relationship (2 years and shorter will likely require more documents)
  • Differences in religion or caste (e.g. Indian, Pakistani relationships)
  • Age difference
  • Difference in education
  • Cultural differences

Have any questions? Contact us. 

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