Canada knows just how important it is for spouses to be together; that’s why applications for spousal sponsorship are given utmost priority. However, Immigration Canada doesn’t make the application process easy – especially for someone who has never done something like this before. There is a general checklist that should be kept in mind prior to sponsor your spouse to Canada.
Canada is considered to be one of the best countries in the world for living, working and settling permanently. In addition to spouses, Canadian immigration law has expanded to cover common-law partners (proof of having lived together in a conjugal partnership for at least one year) and same-sex couples. In rare cases, couples that cannot live together or cannot get married can also be sponsored.
The Canadian equivalent of a USA green card is a maple leaf card (formally known as a permanent resident card) that enables one to live and work anywhere in Canada. Eventually, a permanent resident may qualify for Canadian citizenship after spending a certain amount of time in Canada within a five year period.
A spousal sponsorship has an estimated processing time of about twelve months. This article will take a more in-depth look at the general guidelines involved when compiling a spousal sponsorship application.
Disclaimer: Please note that the province of Quebec involves a different sponsorship process and it is your responsibility to find a qualified professional who can consult on any immigration matter for the province of Quebec.
Requirements to sponsor your spouse to Canada
The most important thing before starting an application is determining whether you’re eligible to sponsor your spouse to Canada. You may be eligible to sponsor your spouse if you are a permanent resident or Canadian citizen and meet the following conditions:
- You are at least 18 years old
- You are residing in Canada or if you’re a Canadian citizen overseas you intend to return to Canada once your spouse becomes a permanent resident of Canada
Check out this article on what makes a sponsor eligible that details more requirements necessary to sponsor.
Proving your spousal relationship
You have to show that your partnership is “legal” to be considered for a spousal sponsorship. The way to show this is by producing a marriage certificate. A marriage that is “legally” recognized according to the laws of the country where it happened is generally recognized in Canada. In addition to a marriage certificate, there are other considerations the immigration officers take into account, depending on the essence of the relationship:
- Relationship summary that details your entire relationship
- Wedding invites and photographs
- Photographs of both of you together
- Letters from friends and family
- Social media contact
You may require to have other documents with the following details:
- Evidence that you and your spouse live together with such as joint ownership of property or shared lease, copies of government-issued IDs, utility bills in both your names, insurance papers
Sponsor signs an undertaking to take responsibility for the financial needs of their spouse
While sponsoring your spouse to Canada you may not need to meet a minimum income requirement (unless your spouse has dependent children who also have dependent children) however you are required to sign a form in which you pledge to provide financial assistance for your sponsored member’s basic needs. The length of the undertaking is contingent on the type of family member you are sponsoring. The period of the undertaking for spousal sponsorship is 3 years from the day that person becomes a permanent resident of Canada.
How to sponsor your spouse to Canada if they live in another country?
If your spouse lives in another country and intends to stay in their country or cannot obtain a visitor visa to Canada, your option is to apply under the Family Class. This category is specifically for the following situations:
- Your spouse (i.e. “the applicant”) is living outside Canada
- You as the sponsor are currently living with your spouse outside Canada (READ ME: applicable only to Canadian Citizens)
- you and your spouse do not intend to remain in Canada during processing
Visitor visa applications for spouses to come to Canada typically have a high rejection rate. Therefore, applying under the family class immigration program is a popular option for spouses who currently live apart. Even if both sponsor and applicant reside in Canada, they still have the option of applying under this class.
How to sponsor your spouse to Canada if they are already living in Canada?
If you and your spouse are currently living together in Canada, you can apply on the following basis:
- You as the spouse (applicant) live with the sponsor in Canada
This is a popular option because the applicant who has legal immigration status is entitled to include an open work permit with their application; allowing them to work while their sponsorship application is in process. However, the drawback of this particular process is that the applicant would refrain from travelling outside Canada until a final decision on their sponsorship has been made.
What is the cost to sponsor a spouse to Canada?
The Government’s sponsorship and applicant processing fee is $550 CAD. In addition, applicants will also be expected to pay a $490 CAD Right of permanent residence fee before they can obtain a visa. Additional fees may vary depending on whether there are accompanying dependent children and whether or not a spouse has taken their biometrics. Other costs such as police clearance(s), medical exam and passport photos are always the applicant’s responsibility.
Every application is as different as the relationship. Utilising the services of an experienced immigration representative can greatly help those who want their immigration process to run as smoothly as possible. If you have further questions about bringing your spouse to Canada, please get in touch, call +1 (604) 265-4966 or email.