What to do After a Sponsorship Breakdown


As a Canadian immigration law firm, we’ve come across situations where the relationship between the sponsored partner or spouse and the sponsor fails to work. In such a situation, the immigration process can be significantly affected. We help clients who are experiencing a sponsorship breakdown by explaining their options and providing sound legal advice.

What’s a sponsorship breakdown?

As a Canadian sponsor, you are required to offer your foreign spouse financial support for at least three years after the spouse’s permanent residence application is approved. A sponsorship breakdown occurs when a sponsor is unable or unwilling to provide the applicant with the financial support he/she needs. In other times, the sponsor may withdraw their sponsorship during the course of the spouse’s permanent residence application, causing the application to be refused. These situations are best described as a sponsorship breakdown.

A sponsorship breakdown can occur when:

  • The sponsor loses their income hence is unable to support the applicant financially
  • The foreign spouse goes on welfare / social assistance
  • The sponsor withdraws their support for his/her own personal reasons

How will you be affected?

If you experience any of the situations described above, speak to a spousal sponsorship lawyer who will help you to navigate the issue. Sometimes in the course of a spouse or partner sponsorship application the Canadian sponsor changes his or her mind about the relationship and withdraws their sponsorship. If the sponsored spouse’s permanent residence application is still in process when the sponsorship is withdrawn, then the immigration authorities will refuse the permanent residence application. If this happens, and then the couple later reconciles, it will be necessary to file a new sponsorship application and start the process all over again.

Another situation of sponsorship breakdown is where the foreign spouse or partner arrives in Canada then is not supported by the Canadian sponsor and goes on welfare / collects social assistance. In such a situation the Canadian sponsor will be considered to have breached their obligations as a sponsor and the government can ask them to pay back the welfare money the foreign spouse has collected.

It should be noted that once a sponsored spouse or partner obtains permanent residence that the sponsorship cannot be withdrawn, even if the relationship breaks down. This means that the Canadian sponsor is financially responsible for their foreign spouse or partner for a period of three years even if the relationship breaks down before then. Canadians wishing to sponsor should therefore consider that sponsoring a spouse or partner could potentially result in significant financial liability in the event of a sponsorship breakdown.

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