As a Canadian citizen, you have the ability to bring your non-Canadian spouse or partner to Canada for the purpose of them obtaining permanent residency.
This process is referred to as spousal sponsorship.
The categories of spouse and partner can refer to different kinds of relationships.
Types of Spousal and Partner Sponsorships
There are several ways that a spousal relationship is defined in terms of immigration.
- A Marital relationship. As long as the marriage was legally performed in any country and it is consistent with the laws of Canada, it will be recognized by Canadian authorities. The legality of the union will need to be verified by supplying a marriage certificate.
- Common-law partnership. Two adults who have been living together in a marriage-like relationship continuously for one year are considered common-law partners. For immigration purposes, this relationship has the same legality as a traditional marriage. The sponsorship process for a common-law partnership is more complicated because evidence must be provided in the form of shared bills or a lease or rental agreement with the names of both parties.
- Conjugal partner relationship. This describes two people who have been in a marriage-like relationship but whom circumstances have not allowed to live together continuously for one year. The difficulty in this type of relationship, for the sake of immigration, is proving that the relationship is truly marriage-like and giving a valid enough reason as to why residing together has not been an option. This will only be considered an option if there are actual reasons the couple cannot live together and is not based on mere convenience. Authorities will be intent on seeing evidence that the coupling is not a sham for the purpose of Canadian citizenship.
Outside of Canada Spousal Sponsorship
Normally, the spouse who is already a citizen of Canada remains living there while they wait for the application approval. Their significant other would stay in their country of origin until the approval is granted.
When the application is approved, the spouse or partner is granted a permanent resident visa and can enter the country. Upon entry, they are considered a permanent resident.
It’s possible that the foreign partner or spouse can visit, provided they are from a visa-exempt country or can obtain another type of temporary visa. It’s worth noting that the Canadian authorities don’t like to issue temporary visas to a person whose application for permanent residence is in process. The idea is that these people aren’t actually visitors because their intent is to live in Canada permanently.
The Canadian spouse can travel outside the country, though it is not recommended that they do so for extended periods of time. A Canadian citizen can live outside of Canada during the spousal sponsorship period as long as they can show that their intent is to return to Canada to live after the approval is granted.
If the sponsor is not a Canadian citizen, but rather a permanent resident themselves, they are required to remain living in Canada during the application process.
Spousal sponsorship can be a confusing process. If you need help, it’s wise to find an immigration lawyer who can guide you.