Canadian Spousal Sponsorship: Inland Vs. Outland

When you leave your home country and obtain permanent residence or citizenship status in Canada, you have an opportunity to bring some of your loved ones to your new home. You can sponsor your spouse/partner, dependent children or other family members who qualify and meet the minimum permanent resident applicant requirements. You have two main options to choose from when sponsoring: Inland and outland sponsorship.

Inland Versus Outland Sponsorship

Inland sponsorship applies if your spouse or partner whom you want to sponsor for permanent residence is residing in Canada. Your spouse can get a temporary visa that qualifies him/her to enter Canada. In some cases, they can even qualify for an open-work permit while the sponsorship application is being processed. This gives you an opportunity to spend time with your spouse and also allows them to work legally in the country even before their request for permanent residence is granted. In fact, applying for an open work permit was made easy by the immigration authorities with processing times now faster than ever before.

Outland Sponsorship Applications

You may also sponsor your spouse/partner, dependent children or family member who is currently not residing in Canada. In this case, you will go through the outland sponsorship stream. The only disadvantage of this option is that you don’t get to spend time with your family member until the application is approved. The best approach would be for the spouse to apply for a temporary visa to come to Canada while the permanent residence application is being processed.

Relationship Categories Recognized by the IRCC

The IRCC currently recognizes only 3 relationship categories: marriage, conjugal relationships, and common-law relationships. Spousal sponsorship applications for each of these categories will have different requirements.


  • You have to provide valid marriage documents
  • You have to maintain the relationship for not less than 2 years if you don’t have children and have been married for two years failure to which the permanent residency can be revoked.

Common Law Relationships

  • You must be living together for a period not less than a year to be considered under this relationship category.
  • Travel and family breaks are allowed but you must have spent most of the time together
  • You can provide personal details such as your bank account information and insurance/driver’s license to show that you have been sharing the same address.
  • The important thing is to ensure you are able to convince the immigration officer that your relationship fits the definition of a common-law union.

Conjugal Relationships

  • You must have been in a continuous and committed relationship for a period of not less than 12 months.
  • Unlike, common-law relationships, you don’t need to have lived with each other to qualify under this relationship category.
  • The important thing in this category is to demonstrate that you have had barriers that prevent you from residing with one another such as cultural reasons or immigration barriers.

To help you avoid common mistakes that could cause your application to be denied, use an experienced immigration lawyer Canada to ease your mind and help you prepare your application.


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