How to Sponsor a Spouse in Canada

Do you wish to Sponsor your Spouse in Canada?

Below is some information about how to sponsor a spouse, common law partner or conjugal partner  to Canada.

The first step is determining your eligibility as a sponsor. The main requirements are that you are a citizen or permanent resident in Canada, are at least 18 years of age, and are able to financially support your spouse/partner for three years from the date they become a permanent resident. You will therefore be required to prove that you meet minimum necessary income requirements and sign a form of your commitment to providing financial assistance. 

It is important to note that you may not be eligible to be a sponsor if you:

  • failed to provide financial support you agreed to when you signed a sponsorship agreement to sponsor another relative in the past
  • defaulted on a court-ordered support order, such as alimony or child support
  • receive government financial assistance for reasons other than a disability
  • were convicted of an offence of a sexual nature, a violent criminal offence, an offence against a relative that results in bodily harm or an attempt or threat to commit any such offences—depending on circumstances such as the nature of the offence, how long ago it occurred and whether a record suspension (aka pardons) was issued
  • were previously sponsored as a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner and became a permanent resident of Canada less than 5 years ago (if your sponsorship application was received on or after March 12, 2012)
  • defaulted on an immigration loan—late or missed payments
  • are in prison or
  • have declared bankruptcy and have not been released from it yet.

The next step is ensuring that your relationship satisfies the definitions set out by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. You will be required to submit documents demonstrating the genuineness of the relationship, which varies depending on which category your relationship falls into.

What is are the definitions of Spouse, common law partner and conjugal partner for Canada?

A spouse is defined as either of the two persons (opposite or same sex) in a legally-recognized marriage. Spouses must provide evidence such as a marriage certificate and details of the proposal and engagement as well as proof of maintained contact, living arrangements, and financial support

A common-law partner is defined as a person who is living in a conjugal relationship with another person (opposite or same sex), and has done so continuously for a period of at least one year.

Common-law partners must attach any documents that show they are in a committed and genuine relationship, for example, evidence that they share the same home, that they support each other financially and emotionally, that they have had children together, or that they present themselves in public as a couple.

Common-law partners who are unable to live together or appear in public together because of legal restrictions in their home country may still qualify and should be included on the application.

Common-law partners who meet the conditions outlined above but who have been separated for reasons beyond their control (for example, civil war or armed conflict) may qualify and should be included on the application.

The conjugal partner category is for foreign national partners of Canadian or permanent resident sponsors who would normally apply as common law partners but are unable to live together continuously for one year, due to circumstances beyond their control, such as immigration barrier, religious reasons, marital status, or sexual orientation.

In most cases, the foreign partner is also not able to marry their sponsor and qualify as a spouse. In all other respects, the couple is similar to a common-law couple or a married couple, meaning they have been in a genuine conjugal relationship for a period of at least one year.

However, a significant degree of attachment and mutually interdependent relationship must be demonstrated between both partners for this category. They must also provide proof of what obstacles (or restrictions) exist that prevent cohabitation or marriage.

New two year rule for Spousal Sponsorships

Finally, it is crucial to note that as of October 25, 2012, the Federal government has introduced a conditional permanent residence rule for all applications received on or after that date. It applies to spouses, common-law or conjugal partners who are in a relationship with their sponsor for two years or less and have no children in common with their sponsor at the time of the sponsorship application. The condition requires the sponsored spouse or partner to cohabit in a conjugal relationship with their sponsor for a period of two years after the day on which they became a permanent resident. If they do not remain in the relationship for two years, the status of the sponsored spouse or partner may be revoked. This conditional rule will not apply, however, in instances of abuse or neglect by the sponsor (or failure by the sponsor to protect their spouse/partner from abuse or neglect) or in the event of the sponsor’s death.

Need help with your Sponsorship Application?

We are here to help with all types of family sponsorships  For more information you can  visit our webpage on sponsorships or contact us for a consultation.

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

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