Who Can Be a Sponsor?
In order to sponsor a spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner to Canada, you must be a citizen, permanent resident, or a registered Indian under the Canadian Indian Act. You must be 18 years of age or older, and meet any further requirements, such as financial stability, to prove you have the capacity to act as a sponsor.
If you do meet these requirements, you may be eligible to sponsor a spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner who must also be qualified. The Canadian citizen or permanent resident applying to become a sponsor is the first step to the sponsorship process. Next, the spouse, conjugal partner, or common law partner will apply for permanent residence.
What are the Requirements for a Spouse or Partner Being Sponsored?
The spouse or partner applying for permanent residence must be at least 18 years old, and both the sponsor and the beneficiary must prove their relationship is genuine. Immigration officials have been faced with spousal sponsorship cases in which the individual is just applying for permanent residence and not to be with their partner. In such cases, the individual may be denied. Therefore, it is important to only enter under this class if the intent is sincere. A common-law partner applying under this class must live with their sponsor in Canada for a minimum of 1 year. This is not necessarily the case for a spouse. In cases where the sponsor and applicant are married but live apart overseas, the sponsor will sponsor the applicant so they can live together in Canada. This does not apply for conjugal partners.
The sponsorship rules for same-sex spouses or partners in Canada are the same as those for opposite-sex spouses or partners. If you were married inside Canada, you must have a legal marriage certificate from the province or territory in which you got married. If you were married outside of Canada, you will also be required to provide a marriage certificate to prove that your marriage is considered legal in the place you got married, as well as in Canada.
To be considered a common-law partner, one should have lived together with another person in a conjugal relationship for at least one year. This applies to both opposite- and same-sex relationships. In a sponsorship case, you will typically have to provide proof of this union, which can be done in the form of financial records, property, utility bills, joint accounts or other means.
A conjugal partner is an individual outside of Canada who has been in a binding relationship with a Canadian sponsor for at least one year, but could not live with their partner. This also applies to both opposite- and same-sex relationships. To sponsor a conjugal partner, you must prove you could not live together due to extenuating circumstances.
Spousal Sponsorship Inland and Outland
To qualify for the Inland sponsorship category, the foreign spouse or partner must have temporary resident status in Canada, which can be as a worker, student, or visitor. Applicants may be eligible for an open work permit, which ensures they can work for a Canadian employer while the application is processed. This may help prevent any issues that can arise if an existing visa expires before the sponsorship process is completed. The Outland sponsorship category applies to a situation where the foreign partner is living outside of Canada. While the sponsored individual may still be able to travel in and out of Canada during the application process, their application will be processed through the visa office in their country of origin or permanent residence.
# of Immigrants Receiving PR Through Spousal Sponsorship
Reasons You May Not Be Able to Sponsor
- are sponsoring a spouse or partner but you signed an undertaking for a previous spouse or partner and it hasn’t been three years since they became a permanent resident,
- previously sponsored someone and did not pay back any social assistance that they received while the undertaking was in place.
- are in default on an immigration loan or a performance bond
- did not pay court-ordered alimony or child support
- have declared bankruptcy which has not been discharged
- were convicted of
- an offence of a sexual nature,
- a violent crime,
- an offence against a relative that caused bodily harm or
- threatened or attempted to commit any of the above offences—depending on the nature of the offence, how long ago it happened and if you received a pardon
- are sponsoring a spouse or partner and you were previously sponsored as a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner and became a permanent resident of Canada less than five years ago,
- are under a removal order,
- are in a penitentiary, jail, reformatory or prison,
- have already applied to sponsor your current spouse or partner and haven’t received a decision.
Spousal Sponsorship FAQs
How long does it take to sponsor a spouse in Canada?
The average processing time of a spousal sponsorship is approximately 12 months. However, depending on specific circumstances and regions, it may be shorter or as long as 36 months. This sponsorship can be done by a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident.