What to expect from Canadian Spouse Immigration:
Step 1: Achieve Financial Security
Your spouse will be considered a dependent for the first three years of his or her stay in Canada. As soon as you sign a sponsorship, you are accepting legal responsibility for caring for your spouse for those three years. This means that if your spouse ever collects social assistance (welfare), you will have to pay the government back the amount collected.
Step 2: Prove that You Will Reside in Canada if the Application is Approved
If you are a Canadian citizen then you do not need to reside in Canada to sponsor a spouse, but you do need convincing proof that you will come back to Canada as soon as your spouse is granted a Visa.
This proof could be a standing job offer, a plan to raise children with the help of close relatives in Canada, or a deed to Canadian real estate.
Once you choose inland or abroad, you have to stick with it through the entire process. If your spouse starts an application from within Canada, then your spouse will have to remain in Canada without a work permit until the first stage of the application is complete.
This could mean a full year of residency in Canada while you wait for the first stage of the process to finish.
Step 3: Assemble Proof of Your Relationship
Of all the spousal sponsorships that are rejected, most are rejected for one reason: the immigration officer was not convinced that the relationship is real.
Assemble as much proof as possible that your relationship is older than the immigration process. Proof can include wedding photos, phone records, chat transcripts, and anything else that establishes your relationship over time.
Step 4: Start the First Stage
The first stage of the process is an evaluation of your paperwork and claims. Hopefully, it will end in a conditional approval that will give your spouse a work permit if you are applying through the in-Canada process.
Step 5: Start the Second Stage
The second stage can take another year or more, depending on where you applied. In the second stage, immigration agents will perform background checks on your spouse.
If the background checks do not show serious crimes, and everything else is in order, then your spouse’s application will be approved.
Step 6: Naturalization as a citizen
After four years in Canada, your spouse can undergo the naturalization as a citizen process. This includes tests of English or French proficiency, Canadian politics and history, and rights and responsibilities of citizens, and requires meeting a residency obligation.
If your spouse passes, he or she may swear allegiance to Canada and become a full citizen.
Prior to sponsorship, consider these factors
Before you try and sponsor your spouse or partner, make sure that you meet all the requirements and do not fall victim to any of the disqualifying factors. For example, you must be 18 years of age of or older and you cannot sponsor anyone that is under the age of 16.
Furthermore, the following will disqualify you from sponsorship:
- If you’ve failed to provide financial support to a past sponsoree, you will not be able to sponsor anyone else.
- If you’ve defaulted on a court-ordered spousal or child-support order, no matter how long ago it was, you cannot be a sponsor.
- If you receive government or other financial assistance that is not employment insurance or disability payments, you are not an eligible sponsor.
- If you have been convicted of sexual or violent offense against a relative or otherwise you are not going to qualify to be a sponsor.
- If you’ve defaulted on an immigration loan no matter how small, sponsorship is out of your reach.
- If you’ve been imprisoned for any crime, no matter the severity or how much time you served in jail, you will not be able to provide spousal sponsorship.
- If you have declared bankruptcy in the past and have not been released from the terms of that bankruptcy yet, you cannot sponsor your spouse.
- If you have misrepresented facts on your application to sponsor a spouse, you and your spouse will be denied.
When to consider sponsorship
You do not need to be legally married in Canada, but your marriage needs to be recognized in the country in which you got married. This also applies to couples who are in a marriage-type relationship such as a common-law partnership. This means that you are in an exclusive, life-long partnership in which you share assets and have been together for a number of years.
If you meet the above criteria then, you can consider sponsorship. However, if you have just met someone it’s best to wait until you have established a relationship with them before considering sponsorship.
Why you need to work with an immigration lawyer
When it comes to matters like spousal sponsorship, you should contact an immigration lawyer. There are many aspects of sponsorship that you may not understand and an immigration lawyer will help navigate the process. Contact our office today for more information.