Spousal Sponsorship Refusals are too High

As reported by Torstar News, government documents reveal that just under 50% of spousal sponsorship applications are refused from certain regions  such as southern China, Western Africa. In other areas refusal rates are also unacceptably high.

MP Olivia Chow calls this high refusal rate “cruel and arbitrary”. I cannot agree more.  At our office, we see and handle an increasing number of spousal sponsorship refusals. Of course, some of these rejected applications are indeed justified where there is a clear “marriage of convenience” between the parties.  However, in many cases, there is no reason for such refusals. Spouses who have been separated in some cases, for many months or years are bewildered by these refusals and are faced with further delays in being united as they must appeal these decisions to the Immigration Adjudication Division (IAD).

We have found that the while there are no guarantees for sponsorship approvals, making sure your application is very well documented goes a long way towards reducing your risk of rejection. Knowing that your relationship with your spouse or partner is legitimate and genuine is not enough to ensure a positive result for your sponsorship application. Visa Officers, these days, appear to assume the worst and you have to go the extra mile in terms of preparation to overcome their  suspicions.

We have written about immigration application refusals in a previous blog here.  And if your sponsorship or any other immigration application was refused, it is important to take decisive and timely action to secure your rights to appeal.

Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

5 thoughts on “Spousal Sponsorship Refusals are too High

  1. Dar Robinson

    I do not believe the right of appeal is very helpful.

    Take my case, i have no idea which option to take, whether i should appeal my case or reapply. In either case it both takes just as long, so what the point in appealing. In fact i hear appealing may take even longer.

    I was denied my application (unfairly) on grounds that i did not respond back to the CICs 2 prior requests for information. Unfortunately for me, i was a victim of errors made by the CIC when they did not enter either my mail or email address correctly in their own database and possibly contacted someone else who certainly wasn’t me and i now have to pay for their mistakes.

    Unfortunately the CIC is not an accountable institution and as such there is nothing that can be done. The only 2 courses of action are for me to appeal and win the case some time later or perhaps start a new application which unfortunately is long enough by itself, but will perhaps be shorter than the wait from an appeal.

    In fact given the simplicity of cases like mine, where the error are easily traceable and visible, i guess even suggesting a useless & worthless appeals process as a solution should not even be recommended.

    1. owen

      Hello Dar,

      I am sorry to hear about your difficulties with the immigration process. We have many years of experience helping people in your situation, and we would be happy to guide you in the right direction and to really strengthen your case. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for further assistance and to setup a consultation with one of our immigration professionals.


  2. Brian

    Thank you for your post. I am going to write to Olivia Chow and Jinny Sims along the lines that follow but with more detail. My own MP is dismissive. I hope your other readers may find my comments useful. I am a former senior policy advisor with the federal government who left for very good reasons.

    The process is truly insane. VIsa officers and CIC have absolute power. They are accountable to nobody. They can even trample on human rights, using age, sex, marital status and disability to intimidate sponsors and applicants. The family sponsorship application and decision-making processes are indeed “cruel and arbitrary”. The system is deliberately designed to enable the arbitrary decisions of visa officers, to deter applicants, to frustrate sponsors, and to put unwarranted pressure on marriages in the hope that spouses will give up. Moreover, it is clear that the present government desires only economic class immigrants, so there is an unwritten but nevertheless effective policy to lengthen the process as much as possible, and perhaps to increase refusals. Since visa officers do not really give reasons for refusal, the appeal process is as arbitrary as the application process. Sponsors and applicants must guess at the reasons for refusal and expend a huge amount of energy and time to prepare for the hearing.

    If CIC intended to make good decisions, it would do two things well. First, it would conduct follow up on the results of its decisions to approve or deny applications for permanent residence. This would help to create a knowledge base that deepened the capacity of CIC to produce positive benefits for Canada.

    Second, it would ask the couple to explain, in their application, their plans for the future in Canada. This would not only provide an additional basis for assessing the marriage, but would also add value, enabling couples to think beyond the application and sort out potential compatibility, economic and adjustment issues.

    It is no longer acceptable for any government department or agency to be allowed to continue to expend public resources ad infinitum without creating useful knowledge or enhancing the capacity of citizens to make good decisions. And, certainly, no government department should be able to trample on the rights of its citizens to fair and equitable treatment, or to act in a cruel and arbitrary manner.

    We won our appeal in March 2012. Eight months later we are still waiting for a letter from the consulate requesting updated medical and police certificates. We expect it will be at least another six months before a permanent residence visa is approved. We fought the decision of the visa officer in good faith, We won the appeal. The honourable thing to do would be for CIC to process the appeal as openly and quickly as possible. We know CIC is intentionally delaying the process. This government is without honour.

  3. Gail

    My husband and I got caught in this wave. A 10 year relationship,married legally etc. I am a born in Canada citizen. It has been a cruel and insane process. I will not be going through appeals. Instead going over to his country and excited about it too. I am an accountant, educated etc. Still in shock about the whole thing. Miss my husband and best friend a lot.About 10 percent of born in Canada citizen live outside of Canada.There are couples ruled not geniune who did battle and together decades later. Others leave and have good lives in those other countries. One thing about this insanity process. It can serve to make a very strong marriage. It does leave scars about Canada though.A chilling realisation we are not truly a “free”country.

    1. Michael Niren

      Hi Gail

      I am sorry to hear about your ordeal. I am seeing a trend toward more and more refusals for sponsorships. If your application was refused, consider appealing it. You have 30 days to file the appeal with the Immigration Adjudication Division (IAD). Cases such as your are often won at the IAD provided you prepare properly. In some cases, they are settled with immigration before going to court.


Leave a Comment:

Your email address will not be published.


The content and comments of this blog are not legal advise and and may not be accurate or complete. If you require legal advice, contact a licensed legal practitioner directly. If you post on this blog, you assume full responsibility for disclosing your identity to the public and VisaPlace nor its affiliates are not responsible for protecting your privacy nor your identity concerning your participation in our blog and you assume any risks in participating.