Should I file my spouse or partner application in Canada or outside Canada?

immigration authorities expressing concerns with my application

Spouse or partner sponsorship applications can be filed in two different ways: (1) as an in-Canada case that will process at an immigration office in Canada, (2) as an overseas application that will process at a visa office at a Canadian embassy or consulate abroad.

In deciding which is the best type of application in your case, a number of factors should be considered.

First, is your foreign spouse or partner already in Canada, or can they enter Canada without having to first apply for a visa?  If the answer is “yes” then an in-Canada application is an option, if the answer is “no” then you may wish to eliminate the in-Canada option.  If your foreign spouse or partner needs to apply for a visitor visa or other visa to enter Canada, there is a good chance that the visa will be denied.

If your foreign spouse or partner is in Canada, or can easily enter Canada, the next question is whether he or she intends to stay in Canada for the duration of the sponsorship.  An in-Canada sponsorship can sometimes be a lengthy process of one or two years.  One of the legal requirements of the in-Canada process is that the couple must live together in Canada during the course of the application.  If your spouse or partner leaves Canada part way through the process, this could result in the application being refused.

Processing times should also be considered.  An in-Canada application typically takes longer than an overseas application.  The processing times of overseas offices vary from visa office to visa office, but usually the application will be done faster if it processes at a visa office.  This seems counter-intuitive, but the reason for it is that the immigration authorities give a lower priority to in-Canada cases because the spouses are already living together, whereas in overseas cases they are waiting to be reunited, which is more urgent.

The ability to appeal is also an important consideration in spouse or partner sponsorship applications.  If you think there is some reason why your case might be refused by the immigration authorities, you may prefer to apply through a visa office abroad.  The reason for this is that overseas cases have an appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division if they are rejected, but in-Canada cases do not.  While in-Canada cases can appeal to the Federal Court if refused, this is not nearly as good of an appeal as an appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division.

Those are a few of the important considerations when deciding where to file your sponsorship application.  Of course, it can be far more complicated than that, and legal advice is definitely recommended.

FAQ Family Sponsorship Immigration