The Canadian Spousal Sponsorship Process: All You Need to Know to Succeed
Becoming a permanent resident is a crucial step in obtaining Canadian Citizenship, and allows you and your spouse to establish a solid foundation together, for a happier and more prosperous future. However, the application process can be tiresome and emotional, filled with many surprising yet imperative tricks and turns. We understand that it’s hard to know where to begin, what you need, and when and where to seek guidance in the event that things don’t go smoothly. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and we hope this comprehensive guide will support you throughout this process.
Remember to Be Patient
This process can be painfully long, placing unneeded stress on you and your partner. It may feel never ending, but it’s important to remember that by remaining consistent and keeping on top of your correspondence with the Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), will make your application that much stronger. Remember that this is an investment in your future, so it’s worth the wait.
Trust the Professionals
We hope this guide helps you with your application, we also know that having a professional on your side is not only going to ease your mind but can also provide you with a successful outcome. Here at YA Law, we specialize in Canadian Immigration Law and have helped countless couples through the spousal sponsorship process successfully. Feel free to reach out to us to have us on your side through this milestone in your life.
Who is the Applicant and Who is the Sponsor?
Let’s start with the basics: who is who? You will see various terms throughout the application process, however, the most important two are Applicant and Sponsor. It may seem simple but knowing a clear difference will ensure you don’t make any unnecessary mistakes that will jeopardize your application.
The Applicant: The person being sponsored by the sponsor. This is the person that is not a Canadian Permanent Resident or Canadian citizen and is looking to be sponsored for PR through their Canadian or Canadian permanent resident spouse.
The Sponsor: A Canadian Citizen or a Canadian permanent resident who Is sponsoring the applicant.
Who is Eligible – Spousal Sponsorship Application?
Both the sponsor and the applicant must fulfill certain requirements in order to qualify for spousal sponsorship. Here is a comprehensive list that will help you get a sense of how eligible you and your partner are for this process.
As a sponsor you must:
- Be 18 years or older
- Be a Canadian Citizen or a Permanent Resident of Canada
- What if I am a Canadian Citizen but not currently living in Canada? That’s fine! As long as you can prove that you are in a genuine relationship with your spouse, and prove that you intend to return to Canada.
- Be married or in a common-law relationship (living together for at least one year)
- So, I don’t need to be married to my spouse in order to sponsor them? As long as you are common-law and co-habiting on a continual basis, meaning only temporary and short separations for reasons such as work travel or small personal vacations, then you are eligible. OR
- You can be a conjugal partner, meaning you and your partner are in a marriage-like relationship but are not married and cannot live together due to circumstances beyond their control.
- Did not become a permanent resident after being sponsored yourself by a spouse in the preceding 5 years to the current sponsorship application.
- Able to provide basic needs for the people you’re sponsoring for at least three years.
- Basic needs include food, shelter, dental care, eye care, and other needs not covered by health services.
- Not be in receipt of social assistance for any reason other than disability.
- So yes, if you are on disability, you are still eligible for spousal sponsorship.
- Are still financially responsible for a previous spouse or partner you sponsored.
- You are still bound by a 3-year undertaking to take care of this person.
- Not be late in making any required payments on an immigration loan, a performance bond or any other amounts you agreed to pay under Canadian immigration legislation
- Not be currently detained in jail, prison, penitentiary or reformatory.
- Not be convicted of a sexual offense or serious violent offense against anyone causing bodily harm against someone who is related to you, or an attempt to commit such an offense
- Demonstrate that the relationship is permanent and genuine through strong supporting documents
- What are these supporting documents? We will answer this in the next section!
As An Applicant you must:
- Legally married or common-law and cohabiting with the sponsor, or is a conjugal partner to the sponsor
- At least 18 years old
- Has been living with, or in a relationship with a sponsor for at least 12 consecutive months
- If you are a conjugal partner, you have to have been and can prove that you have been in a relationship one year before the submission of the application.
Don’t see yourself on this list? Don’t worry. There are many specific and special circumstances that may not be satisfied by this list. Feel free to reach out to us at YA Law and we can make sure you know for sure whether you are eligible as a sponsor or applicant.
I’m Eligible! What Do I Need to Get Started?
This process requires hours of preparation of copious amounts of supporting documents to prove that you satisfy the requirements. Depending on where the applicant is from, the required supporting documents differ. When you begin your application process, the application will note what documents you need depending on the applicant’s country. However, here is a basic list of documents that you will most likely have to prepare.
- Scanned passports
- All pages of your passport will most likely have to be scanned, so get comfortable using a scanner or finding the best way to access one.
- Birth certificates
- Marriage or Divorce Certificates
- National Identification Cards
- Military Service Documents (for example, military booklets)
- Other civil documents
- Biometric (fingerprint and photo) requirements
- Both the applicant and the sponsor may be required to appear in person to have their fingerprints and photograph taken at a biometric collection service point.
- Police certifications
- This applies to the applicant’s current country of residence if they have lived there for three months or more AND the country where the applicant has resided for most of their life since the age of 18. This may be multiple places!
- Translation of documents
- For any documents that are not in English, they must be translated. The translations must be done by a certified translator accompanied by an affidavit from the person who completed the translation. A certified copy of the original document may also be required.
Remember, the documents required heavily depend on the country that your partner is applying from. Therefore, it is imperative that the applicant knows what documents are required of them. It can take up to three months or more to get all these documents together, so make sure you allow yourself enough time.
How Does the Application Process Work?
There are many steps to the application some of which will take longer than others but we have broken them down into a simple 6. Get Your
1. Application Package
Visit https://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/spouse.asp and the instructions to how to “Get Your Application Package” are articulated. This is the portion of the application where the applicant will fill out their current country of residence, and will find out the specific documents they will need to gather. You will receive a checklist that will be helpful to keep track of what you need.
2. Gather Your Documents
This is the part of the process where you organize the documents that you have collected, depending on what you need.
3. Fill Out the Forms
The application has many forms to fill out, for both the applicant and sponsor. Make sure you complete the forms truthfully, as it is a serious offence to give false and misleading information on these forms. Not all sections will apply to you, and if that’s the case, you must write “N/A’ and move onto the next section. Do not rush this process. Incomplete or improperly filled out forms will not be satisfactory to the IRCC, which will slow down the process. If you are working with a professional, such as an agent or law firm, consult them with any questions and make sure to go over the forms several times.
4. Pay Fees
On average, the total cost for the application will be $1,050 CAD. This does not include dependent children, which will be an additional cost. Make sure to take into consideration that translation of documents, authentication of documents for some countries, police certificate, biometrics, scanning and printing, and postage will also be additional costs throughout this process. The application and biometric fee can only be paid online, where you will need a credit card or Canadian debit card.
5. Check Your Application
This a crucial step! If you don’t include all of the required documents and supporting evidence, your whole application will be returned without being processed. To avoid this, make sure you check your application for completion, consulting your checklist and relying on professional guidance. Some common mistakes are:
- Not fulfilling the country-specific requirements
- Not providing original documents (a photocopy does not count) when they are required
- Using staples, binders, plastic sleeves, folders or albums to submit your application (Use elastic bands or paper clips!)
- Not providing the additional documents when sponsoring dependent children.
- Not providing the Use of Representative form, if you have chosen to use a representative.
- Not providing marriage certificate documents
- Not providing signatures in the required sections
- Not providing full and detail physical addresses
- Don’t use abbreviations!
- Not providing a correct email address
Important Note: If in your application, you are unable to fill out certain sections of forms for certain reasons, provide as much written reasoning and proof as to why that is the case. The more proof, the better.
6. Submit the Application
You’re finally finished. But wait! Before you put it in the mailbox and put your feet up for some well deserved rest, make sure you make photocopies for your records, just in case anything is lost or damaged along the way.
Tips on Proving Your Genuine Relationship
A tricky part of the spousal sponsorship process that can be the most important yet one of the most difficult to achieve, is proving that the relationship between the applicant and the sponsor is genuine. As mentioned above, the IRCC is strict in making sure that the relationship between the applicant and the sponsor is not just for the purpose of acquiring status or privilege. But how can you prove the sincerity of your relationship? Here are some suggestions for extra supporting documents and evidence to include in your application.
- A copy of your wedding invitations that you would have sent out to family and friends.
- Bills and payments related to your weddings, such as rental fees and receipts.
- Photographs from your wedding of both the applicant and sponsors family and friends.
- Photographs of the applicant and sponsor together at various different points in time. You even include photos from your social media and include the date and caption. This will help establish the length of your relationship.
- Text message, Facebook or email correspondence at various points in time. How did you correspond when you first met? Including this will again show that your relationship spans over time.
- Photographs of the sponsor and applicant with either side’s extended family. This may support that there is a close and meaningful connection in your relationship with each other’s families, which could prove genuine and sincere.
Now What? What to Expect After You Apply
First of all, take a deep breath and be proud of yourselves for a job well done. This is a personal and tiring process that concerns the foundation of your future and the hardest part is done. Now, it’s time to wait.
Depending on whether or not you consulted a representative throughout the process, the IRCC will either contact your representative regarding your application or you directly. The IRCC will contact you through:
- Email OR
- Online Account linked to your application which you or your representative will have the option of creating at the beginning of the application process.
The IRCC will contact you for various reasons regarding your application, including but not limited to:
- If they need more information to process your file
- An update on your application is available
- A decision has been made
- If your file is transferred to another office for processing
Do I Need to Get a Medical Exam?
Yes! At some point in this waiting period after you have submitted your application, you will be asked to get a medical exam. This is required and will affect your application if you do not get it. A form will be sent to you with specific instructions and requirements.
Will There be an In-Person Interview?
Depending on your application, you may have asked to appear for an interview. You will receive a date and time, and a list of documents that you may be required to bring. If an interview is needed, it is usually to get further information about the applicant, their future plans in Canada (ex. Work and family prospects) their history and their relationship to the sponsor. As nerve-racking as this may be, do not worry. Just try to answer the questions truthfully and with clarity.
How Long Will the Entire Process Take?
This will vary from application to application. Some applications are more complex, and if reviews and extra documents are requested, or an interview needs to be scheduled, this could slow the process. We would recommend expecting the process to be at least a year from the start of the application to when any final decision will be made.
It Can be Expensive
There’s no easy way to say it, but this entire process is expensive. In addition to your application fee, there are several other fees that will accumulate throughout the application such as printing costs, mailing costs, medical exam costs, biometric costs, photograph costs, cost of representation etc. We understand that this can be a barrier to many people, however, cutting corners in regards to cost may jeopardize your application and slow down the process even more, costing you more in the long run. Remember, this is an investment in the foundation of your future here in Canada, so it will be worth it.
The More the Better
As we have mentioned, the IRCC is looking for holes in your application, on the off chance that you and your spouse are not genuine and are trying to cheat the system. In order to avoid not having a satisfactory application, the more proof that you have of your relationships and its sincerity, the better. Text messages, tickets from vacations, photographs on vacation, shared family events are all valuable documents in proving that your relationship is genuine.
Don’t Give Up
Yes, this process is expensive. Yes, it takes a considerable amount of time. And yes, there may be hiccups along the road. However, it’s important to remember that this is a pivotal step in forming your future life in Canada. Stay positive, be honest, and ask for help. We wish you the best of luck and are looking forward to your getting your PR!
For any further inquiries regarding the spousal sponsorship application and process please contact one of the experienced immigration lawyers. We have helped many people with their application process and would love to support you too!
We have clients who called us asked our fee and decided to do it themselves. After a few months 5 or 6 months, they have come back to us so we could help them with their application since their initial application has been refused.
If you plan to sponsor your family member contact one of our experienced Immigration lawyers at YA Law Corporation.