Spousal sponsorship is a section under the Family Class Immigration category. The Family Class facilitates the reunion of families by allowing Canadian citizens and permanent residents to bring their spouse, common-law partners, dependent children, parents and grandparents over to Canada. As the main goal of the Canadian Immigration system is to bring families together, Family Class applications are given priority and processed first at Canadian Visa Offices.
Under the spousal sponsorship program, both the sponsor and sponsored person must show that their relationship qualifies as a spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner.
Same-sex marriage and same-sex partners are recognized in Canada and will be able to apply under this program provided they meet all the eligibility requirements as well.
Spousal sponsorship is a two-part process:
- The sponsor applies to sponsor his/her spouse or common-law partner
- The spouse or common-law partner applies for permanent residence
There are two routes that can be taken when applying for sponsorship: Outland and Inland
Outland sponsorship application is when the person to be sponsored is living outside of Canada. However, the spouse/common-law partner can still apply through the Outland program whilst living in Canada and may be able to travel in and out of Canada throughout the application process. Nonetheless, bear in mind that it is at the immigration officer’s discretion whether or not to allow you (the sponsored person) re-entry into Canada during this process.
Outland applications are processed in the origin country of the sponsored person or the country where they have resided legally for at least one year. Processing times vary according to the country, but as spousal/common-law partner applications are given priority, IRCC aims to process them within 12 months.
The Inland Sponsorship program is for spouses/partners who are living in Canada with a temporary resident status – either as a worker, student, or visitor. If the sponsored person already has a work or study permit, then they can continue with their work or studies during the processing of the application.
If they are not, then they may be eligible for an open work permit (clickable link to its page) while their application for sponsorship is being processed. This allows the individual to work for a Canadian employer without first securing an job offer. It is recommended to apply for an open work permit at the same time they apply for permanent residence. But if you are unable to do so or you missed it, you can still apply for an open work permit later on.
If the sponsored person chooses not to apply for an open work permit or is refused and their temporary resident status expires, then they must leave Canada immediately at the end of his/her stay. There is no guarantee that the sponsored person will be allowed re-entry into Canada if they leave while their application is being processed. IRCC aims to process both inland and outland applications within 12 months.
Canadian citizens and permanent residents – also known as the sponsor – must meet the following eligibility criteria in order to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada
- If you are a citizen living outside Canada, you must show that you plan to live in Canada once the sponsored person becomes a permanent resident
- If you are a permanent resident living outside of Canada, you will not be able to sponsor them until you are in Canada again
- Prove that you are not receiving social assistance unless it is for disability
- If you’re sponsoring a dependent child that has 1 or more dependent children of their own or you’re sponsoring a spouse or partner that has a dependent child, and their dependent child has 1 or more children of their own, the you must meet the minimum LICO requirements (clickable link for the last 3 words) to prove that you are able to support them financially
- Cannot have been sponsored as a spouse to Canada within the last 5 years
You will be ineligible to sponsor if you:
- Are receiving social assistance for a reason other than for disability
- Are under a removal order
- Were convicted of a violent or sexual offence or an offence that caused, attempted to cause or threatened to cause bodily harm to a relative
- Previously sponsored a spouse or partner and 3 years have not passed since they became a permanent resident
- Have filed for bankruptcy and are awaiting an ‘order of discharge’ by the court
- You are still responsible for a 3-year undertaking for a previous spousal sponsorship
- Have not repaid an immigration loan, a performance bond and/or family support payments
- Failed to financially support a previous spouse or common-law partner which resulted in them seeking social assistance
After Successful Sponsorship
Once the sponsored person has successfully obtained permanent residence status, there are two conditions that both the sponsor and sponsored person must ensure they meet:
- The sponsor must be financially responsible (called undertaking) for their spouse or common-law partner for three years starting from the day they attain permanent resident status
- The sponsored person is restricted from sponsoring a spouse/common-law partner for five years after they obtain permanent resident status
Contact us (clickable link) to find out if you and your spouse/partner are eligible for the spousal sponsorship program.
Spousal Sponsorship Costs
|Sponsor your Spouse/Partner|
Sponsorship fee ($75), principal applicant processing fee ($475) and right of permanent residence fee ($500)
|Sponsor your spouse or partner without right of permanent residence fee|
Sponsorship fee ($75) and principal applicant processing fee ($475)
|Sponsor a dependent child|
Sponsorship fee ($75) and processing fee ($75)
|$150 per child|
|Include any dependent child|
Include any dependent child on any application with your spouse/partner ($150)
|$150 per child|