If you’re a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, you have the ability to bring your foreign spouse or partner to live with you in Canada and obtain permanent residency. This is called spousal sponsorship.
First, you’ll need to understand who is eligible to be a sponsor and who is eligible to be sponsored.
In order to be a spousal sponsor, you:
- Must be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada.
- Must be at least 18 years old.
- Cannot have sponsored a spouse within the last three years.
- Must sign a financial agreement stating that you will be financially responsible for your spouse for a period of three years.
- Must not be under a removal order.
- Must not be in prison.
- Must not have been convicted of any sexual crime.
- Must not have been convicted of a violent crime that carries a punishment of more than 10 years imprisonment.
- Must not have been convicted of a crime that involves bodily harm to a relative or partner.
- Must not have defaulted on a previous sponsorship.
- Must not be in default of any court-ordered support payments.
- Must not have an undischarged bankruptcy.
- Must not be a recipient of social assistance other than for a disability.
Categories of Spousal and Partner Sponsorships
There are a few different ways that a spousal relationship is defined in relation to the immigration process.
- A marital relationship. The marriage will be recognized by Canadian immigration authorities as long as the marriage was legally performed in any country and it is consistent with the laws of Canada. A valid certificate of marriage will need to be supplied for verification.
- Common-law partnership. A common-law partnership constitutes two adults who have been living together in a marriage-like relationship continuously for one year. This relationship has the same legality as a traditional marriage in terms of immigration. 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. A conjugal partnership describes two adults who have been in a marriage-like relationship but whom circumstances have not allowed to live together continuously for one year. In terms of immigration, the difficulty in this type of relationship is proving that the relationship is truly marriage-like. It’s also necessary to give a valid enough reason as to why residing together has not been an option. This will only be considered if there are real reasons the couple cannot live together and is not merely based on convenience. Authorities will need to see proof that the coupling is not a sham for the purpose of Canadian citizenship.
Length of the Process
The process of sponsoring a spouse or partner for permanent residence usually takes approximately one year to gain approval.
The processing time is dependent on the workload that the visa or immigration office is experiencing, as well as how complete the application is. Missing or confusing information can delay the approval. If the immigration authorities have concerns about the application they may schedule an interview which can cause delays and also complicate the case.
To avoid complications, delays, and the potential of refusal, find a qualified immigration attorney to help you through the sponsorship process. It is well worth the small investment in legal fees to ensure that your spouse or partner arrives in Canada quickly and without problems.