What Makes a Spousal Sponsor Eligible?

A detailed look at IRCC requirements for a Canadian to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner

Here at New Roots Immigration, we consult with a number of Canadians and permanent residents wishing to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner to Canada. One of the most prevalent questions we get asked is “what makes me eligible to sponsor a spouse?” There is a lot of misinformation out there as to whether or not a sponsor needs to meet a minimum income requirement or whether disability income prevents them from putting forth an application. Before we go any further, we stress this article is only relevant for spouses or common-law partners and does not address parents or other family members. We’ll do our best to outline the basics of what makes someone eligible to sponsor by taking a closer look at the immigration regulations. Bear in mind that every couple is different and we HIGHLY advise you to seek an expert to guide you through the sponsorship process.

Before moving forward, it’s important to note that Quebec has a different immigration process versus the rest of Canada, and our services cannot represent you for this particular province. It’s up to you to find a qualified representative that can practice immigration in Quebec if you plan to immigrate there. 

Sponsor Requirements

Throughout this article, we will be referencing the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Regulations section 133(1) and relevant subsections to what makes a sponsor eligible to bring their spouse or common-law partner to Canada. Let’s jump into it!

According to R133(1), a sponsor must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident at least 18 years of age who;

1. Resides in Canada (See exception below)

Mostly, sponsors must already live in Canada. This determines whether or not they will apply under the family class, or spouse or common-law partner in Canada class (not discussed in this article). However, some sponsors are not required to be in Canada at the time of application. A sponsor who is a Canadian citizen and doesn’t live in Canada at the time of filing an application may still be able to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner only if the sponsor will reside in Canada when their spouse or partner becomes a permanent resident. It is necessary to provide upfront proof you will return to Canada with your spouse or partner. 

2. Filed a complete sponsorship application

Every time you file an immigration application — whether to CPC-Mississauga or any processing centre applicable to your case, the onus is on you to ensure your application is complete. For example, if an application is missing a signature, a document, or any application form it will be returned without being processed. Furthermore, if an application is not thoroughly documented this may result in processing delays or lead to a refusal. This is one reason why hiring a representative is encouraged!

3. Intends to fulfil the obligations in the undertaking

Whoa, undertaking? What is this about? Let us explain. Prior to filing a sponsorship application, you as the sponsor are essentially making a promise to the government of Canada to reimburse Her Majesty for every form of social assistance provided to or on behalf of your sponsored person (and their family members, if applicable). In simple words, you promise to provide the basic needs and care to your loved one once they become a resident so they won’t rely on the Canadian government to assist them. That’s why it’s important to read the sponsorship undertaking form carefully. The undertaking for a spouse or common-law partner is a duration of 3 years, starting from the day they officially become a permanent resident. Even if you get a divorce, break up and never see each other again — too bad! You’re still responsible until the duration of the undertaking is complete.

4. Isn’t subject to removal from Canada

We would say this is fairly self-explanatory for anyone in this situation. If you as the sponsor are subject to a removal order, you likely committed a very serious offence and will have to seek appropriate legal counsel to assess your situation.

5. Has not been convicted of a serious offence

The above is stated broadly — for good reason. Regardless if you were convicted for a serious offence inside or outside Canada, it would be necessary to seek legal advice to determine whether or not you are eligible to sponsor. Specifically, if you as the sponsor were convicted of an offence of sexual nature, violence or an offence that resulted in bodily harm, please seek an expert opinion prior to making an application. We cannot stress this enough!

6. Is not in default or payments or an undischarged bankrupt

To put it simply, you as the sponsor do not want to have failed to repay a loan for any sponsorship undertaking, child support or support payments ordered by a court. In addition, if you declared bankruptcy, it would have to be discharged in accordance with the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act of Canada. For a first time bankruptcy, a discharge is automatically 9 months from the date of bankruptcy.

7. Is not in receipt of social assistance for a reason other than a disability

Since being a recipient of social assistance demonstrates that you cannot provide for your own basic needs, you would not be able to support your spouse or common-law partner. A sponsor cannot be receiving social assistance from the day they submit a sponsorship application. If you’ve received social assistance in the past, this must be stated on your application. Keep in mind that you as the sponsor are not required to meet a minimum income requirement in most provinces (not all) unless the spouse or common-law partner has a dependent child(ren) who also has a dependent child(ren) of their own. 

Next steps 

It’s important to understand that sponsorship is a heavily involved application that will take weeks; even months to compile and complete. After filing, it can be nerve-racking hearing from IRCC — leaving doubt with certain requirements or what documents are necessary to provide if you’ve never done something like this before.  Do yourself a favour and involve a legal expert who understands the law and has firsthand experience dealing with this program. Here at New Roots Immigration, we specialize in the sponsorship process and provide a personable approach to take care of the process for you from start to finish. We can be reached at 1-604-265-4966 for more information!