If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you have the opportunity to bring over loved ones that are foreign nationals to Canada through sponsorship programs. Sponsorship programs allow for a spouse/partner, dependent children or other family members who qualify and meet the minimum requirements to apply for permanent residence to live in Canada. There are two main routes to choose from when sponsoring: inland sponsorship and outland sponsorship.
What is inland sponsorship?
Inland sponsorship is when you as a Canadian are applying to sponsor a foreign spouse or partner who is residing in Canada. Inland sponsorship can be done when your spouse has a temporary visa that allows him/her to remain in Canada, such as work visa, student visa or visitor visa.
This allows for your spouse/partner to live with you in Canada while awaiting the outcome of their sponsorship application. Your spouse/partner can continue also continue to work, study or visit while an inland sponsorship application is being processed, but will have to separately apply for and extend their temporary status as necessary.
Furthermore, in some cases your spouse/partner may be able to qualify for an open work permit while their sponsorship application is being processed, allowing him/her to work full-time in Canada. With inland sponsorship, the couple should be residing together in Canada, and travel is not recommended as time spent away from Canada may affect the outcome of your application.
What is outland sponsorship?
Outland sponsorship applies to you as a Canadian if you are sponsoring a foreign spouse or partner that is currently not residing in Canada. This option is best if your spouse/partner is unable to obtain a visa to be in Canada at the time of the application.
The application will process through the Canadian visa office outside of Canada that serves your spouse or partner’s country of citizenship or residence. The expectation in an outside Canada application is that the foreign spouse will remain outside Canada while the sponsorship processes. While waiting for an outland application to process your spouse/partner can come to visit Canada as a temporary resident but they will not have the right to work in Canada. Outland sponsorship thus allows your spouse/partner to travel to and from Canada while awaiting the processing of their application.
Which option is best for me?
If you want to be able to live together with your spouse/partner in Canada while waiting for their sponsorship application to be processed, inland sponsorship is the best route for you. Inland sponsorship is also the preferred option if you would like for your spouse/partner to work in Canada while the application is in process.
If your spouse/partner is unable to legally live in Canada, for example, they cannot obtain a temporary visa to Canada, then outland sponsorship is the route for you. Furthermore, outland sponsorship is the best route for you if your spouse/partner needs to be able to enter and leave Canada for work or personal/family situations while awaiting their application to be processed. Furthermore, if you are applying for sponsorship under a conjugal relationship, outland sponsorship is the only option you can take.
Regardless if you are applying through inland sponsorship or outland sponsorship, the application for sponsoring a spouse or partner for permanent residence is the same.
The first step is to determine whether you and your spouse/partner are eligible to apply for sponsorship, the eligibility requirements can be found on our page Requirements for Canadian Spousal Sponsorship.
You will also have to determine what your specific requirements are based on what relationship category you and your spouse/partner fall under. The IRCC recognizes only 3 relationship categories: marriage, common-law relationships and conjugal relationships and further information about each relationship category can be found on our page about outland and inland sponsorship.
Once all the necessary documentation is gathered, the application process is the same for both inland and outland sponsorship. The only difference is that outland sponsorship applications are processed by visa offices outside of Canada – typically near where your foreign spouse/partner is living – while inland applications are processed within Canada. While some may believe that visa offices outside of Canada may process applications quicker, the wait times are in fact similar and you should expect your application to be processed in approximately 12 months regardless if it is an inland or outland application.
How can we help
The Law Office of Matthew Jeffery, has over 20 years of experience in guiding individuals through the visa application process. If you are looking to sponsor your spouse or partner for permanent residence in Canada, please fill out our FREE Family Sponsorship Assessment form to see if we can help you begin the process.