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What Are the Red Flags for Canadian Spousal Sponsorship Applications?

By Michael Niren March 4, 2014 (Updated January 16, 2020) 3 min. read

(Below is a transcription of this video)

NOTE: This article was originally written in 2014.

Hi, my name is Michael Niren. I am an immigration lawyer and founder
of Recently, there was an article in the Toronto Star about
the inner workings of immigration and what red flags officers consider to
be of concern. Cases flagged as suspicious often result in possible refusals of And it’s very interesting because for years, we’ve been processing immigration cases and we know what exact situations will result in some concerns by the officers when they process cases.

Potential Canadian Immigration Red Flags:

There was a study by a professor at McMaster University, who was
granted access into the processing departments of Canada immigration. And he found a few red flags or concerns that officers typically have. And so, I’m going to list them for you. It’s pretty interesting.

Applying From a Poor or Corrupt Country

One is if you apply for a visitor visa from a poor country or a country
where there is a lot of fraud, it’s common that that application will
be heavily scrutinized. And it could be for any type of visa. So if
you’re applying for a visa from a country where there are concerns and
issues, even though your case may be  very, very clean, and considered a very good case, you may be subject to a higher level of scrutiny.

Marital Sponsorship for Couples with Age Gap

Another red flag is in the sponsorship area. If the applicant and the sponsor, have a large age gap between them, that’s going to cause some concern on the part of an immigration officer.

Lack of Familiarity Between an Engaged Couple

Also, if they don’t know about each other very well, they can’t answer questions about their lifestyles and details about themselves, that could also raise a red flag.

Number of Guests Invited to the Wedding

Another interesting point that was raised in the article was the number of people at the wedding. In some cultures, you know that there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people, typically, at these weddings. For example, in Indian culture, they tend to have very large weddings. So in cases where the cultural norm is to have a lot of people at the wedding, and an application is processed where there are not very many people, that could raise some issues on the part of the officer who thinks that there could be something strange going on.

Over-done Love Letters

Another interesting point was love letters. When you file an application for sponsorship, you typically show that the couple generally cares about each other. They love each other. And sometimes you can show some letters of affection between the couple. If it’s overdone, it was argued that if there’s too much of it, the officer may think it’s being manufactured and it’s not genuine. That’s a really interesting finding. If you’re going to submit love letters, don’t go overboard.

The Timing of the Visa Application

Another point was the timing of the application. For example, if an applicant is in Canada already, and is facing immigration removal, the process of deportation issued against that person, and then they subsequently get married and file a sponsorship. The timing is seen as very suspicious. So those are some of the red flags. We know about those red flags and know you do to!

Red Flags Does Not Mean Refusal

For example, if you didn’t have a lot of people at your wedding or that there is a big age gap between you and your spouse, it doesn’t mean that your application is going to be refused. What it does mean is that you should address it head-on well before an officer starts questioning it. So this way you can explain the unusual circumstances. And then in most cases, that should alleviate the concern of the officer.

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