Family reunification is one of Canada’s top strengths and priorities. For this reason, the government prioritizes spousal sponsorship applications. Although the process of immigration through the sponsorship of a spouse or common-law partner is legally complex and requires a lot of patience, the number of newcomers to Canada through the Family Class is second only to the Economic Class.

Who is eligible for spousal sponsorship?

A spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada is eligible for spousal sponsorship for immigration to Canada. Same-sex couples are also eligible for spousal sponsorship. Canada recognizes same-sex marriage. Both spouse and sponsor must submit required documents to the Immigration Department for family reunification through spousal sponsorship.

What are the requirements for a sponsor?

A Canadian citizen or Canadian permanent resident is eligible to act as a sponsor if he/she:

  • is at least 18 years old;
  • resides in Canada, or has a genuine intention of returning to Canada, as soon as the spouse or common-law partner becomes a permanent resident of Canada;
  • is able to financially support a spouse or common-law partner in Canada for three years. However, no minimum sponsor income is requested. The sponsor must sign a commitment to support the sponsored spouse financially.

The application for spousal sponsorship must include marriage certificates, standard birth certificates or child adoption records, joint photos, receipts, and other documents that demonstrate a genuine relationship of the couple.

Who cannot become a “sponsor” of their spouses and common-law partner?

Not every Canadian citizen or permanent resident 18 years of age or older can sponsor a spouse or common-law partner. You are not eligible to apply for spousal sponsorship if:

  • you are receiving any social assistance, except for disability;
  • the applicant has received sponsorship himself and has become a permanent resident within the past five years;
  • you are already a sponsor of a spouse, and it has not been three years since their sponsorship;
  • you violated a court order on the payment of alimony;
  • the sponsor is in a married relationship with another person while applying;
  • you were involved in violent or sexual crimes;
  • the existence of an exclusion order from Canada, and
  • you claimed bankruptcy

Are fiances and fiancees eligible for spousal sponsorship?

It depends. Couples not in a marriage or common-law partnership under Canadian immigration law are not eligible for spousal sponsorship. However, if a couple lives together for at least 12 months and runs a joint household (shared bank accounts, bills, rent, etc.), they are common-law partners and eligible for family reunification.

In addition, there is a separate category in the family class – conjugal partners. Conjugal partners are considered couples in solid relationships and depend on their partners for all financial, social, physical and economic needs. They are not considered common-law partners as they live separately, not of their own choice, but rather because of situations beyond their control (legal, cultural or other obstacles in their countries that prohibit the couple to cohabitate). Conjugal partners are eligible for family sponsorship.

How long does it take to process a spousal sponsorship application?

It all depends on the complexity of the case. Typically, the processing time for a spousal sponsorship application in Canada is 12 months. However, it happens when IRCC employees need more proof of the relationship between the “partner” and the “sponsor,” and the process is delayed for a more extended period.

Open Work Permit for Sponsored Spouses

Sponsored spouses, who have submitted the application for permanent residence in Canada under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class, are eligible to apply for an open work permit (OWP). The main requirement for sponsored spouses is to receive the Acknowledgement of Receipt (AOR), which is the formal confirmation from Immigration Canada that their application has been received.

The OWP for In-Canada sponsored spouses is usually valid until the final decision on the PR application. Sponsored spouses can work full time in any field and for any employer.

Children Sponsorship

Canada has an immigration program that allows citizens and residents of Canada to sponsor children for immigration to Canada. Children’s Sponsorship in Canada is a complicated process. Parents must take the necessary steps with care and discretion as sponsorship has a legal obligation. The federal government grants adoptable child status in one of the family reunification categories when meeting specific requirements. Children sponsorship can be applied to biological children, adopted children, foster grandchildren or children of a sponsored spouse.

Common Reasons for Refusals of a Spousal Sponsorship Application

Visa officers can refuse an application for spousal sponsorship if there are doubts about the legal validity of the relationship. Your prime objective is to provide as much evidence of a sincere and genuine relationship as possible, whether you are a traditional couple or not.

Seeking qualified assistance from our immigration consultants is a reliable way to ensure the completeness of your application and the fastest possible reunion with your spouse. Our team of professionals has helped hundreds of couples reunite as we know all the aspects of Canadian immigration procedures.

Book a consultation about applying for a Spousal Sponsorship with Oleg Schindler, a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant!

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