How To Sponsor Your Spouse To Immigrate To Canada

Sometimes an American spouse may not be able to sponsor a Canadian one, for example due to a criminal conviction or the fact that the Canadian has a job that is much better than what can be found in the U.S. For such a couple to live together, they decide to move to Canada. In some cases, it may be that the only way a couple can live together is if they both decide to move to Canada. This happens in circumstances where neither party is eligible or wants to move to the other party’s home country. Whether it is because of such instances, or simply because a Canadian sponsor wants to bring in a foreign spouse, familiarity with Canadian law is needed.

Canadian immigration law in the area of spousal sponsorship is different than the America process, because it has been extended to include common-law partners (proof of having lived together in an intimate relationship for at least a year) and same sex couples.  The Canadian equivalent of the green card is a Maple Leaf card and permanent residence, which allows one to live and work anywhere in Canada, and to ultimately qualify for Canadian citizenship after three years on the basis of physical presence in Canada within the last four years.  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. In some cases an American may need to first become a permanent resident before becoming eligible to sponsor a spouse from overseas to join him or her in Canada. That can be done through programs like Express Entry or a provincial nominee program and then filing the spousal case.

Joining your spouse in Canada i.e. Consular Processing

A spouse can be sponsored to enter Canada for permanent residence through a Canadian Consulate overseas.  This application, which also applies to common law and same-sex relationships, requires a sponsor who files a sponsorship application, an application for permanent residence by the would-be immigrant and some regional-specific work. As mentioned, it begins with a Canadian sponsor filing an application for the foreign spouse to come to Canada with the Mississauga office of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada. Once the sponsor is approved, the file goes overseas to process the foreign spouse. That spouse must go through a medical and police clearance as well as a security check before he or she can be approved for entry into Canada.

Remaining with your spouse in Canada i.e. Internal Processing

If you have been living together in Canada, perhaps because the foreign spouse is working in Canada or even visiting, you can sponsor your spouse from within Canada.  As with sponsorship of a spouse who is outside of Canada, this applies equally to common-law and same-sex relationships.  While this application process is taking place, your spouse has to take care to maintain legal status in order to continue remaining in Canada. The application is commenced by the Canadian spouse who sponsors the foreign spouse to remain.

Usually at the same time an application for a work permit is filed. That work permit application takes about six months to be approved. The sponsorship itself takes about a year. All the papers are finally approved at a final interview inside the country at one of the immigration offices.

Entering Canada to marry your fiancée

The designation of fiancée has been removed from the rules pertaining to Canadian immigration. For that reason you can no longer sponsor your finacee. Entering Canada under the pretext of being a visitor and then marrying a fiancée and applying for a permanent resident card can be risky and can result in an allegation of fraud.  The amount of time that passes between entry into the country and a marriage affects the onus placed on the couple to disprove fraud.  Obviously the longer the better but a working rule would be to wait at least 90 days before a marriage if the rules in the U.S. can be taken as a guide in such matters. Such an application, while not impossible, merits careful consideration for success.

Often the Canadian sponsor would like the foreign would-be immigrant spouse to come to Canada as a visitor first. That way the couple can come to know each other first before they commit to a long term permanent marriage. Sometimes naively, such Canadians who perhaps met the foreign party on line, try to invite the immigrant to come to Canada as their guest. Invariably such invitations end up in failure as Canadian overseas officials detect that the immigrant is likely to stay in Canada no matter what happens and will not leave at the end of the period of authorized stay. Canadian partners are left with the one option of traveling overseas to marry and then returning home to sponsor the spouse. As harsh as this may seem, it is often the only choice the Canadians have.

Are children included in the process?

Spousal sponsorship includes dependent children.  This is the case whether the application takes place from within or outside of Canada.  Dependent children include those under 22 years of age, and possibly over, depending on their particular circumstances related to going to school and being supported by their parent. There are also provisions addressing other close household members and related parties, but this area requires special attention in the immigration process. In addition, disabled persons can be accommodated, but again this requires special attention. Such circumstances are best handled with the help of an experienced lawyer or licensed immigration consultant.

Key Concerns

The validity of the marriage is a primary concern for Canada because it doesn’t want its rules, which have been created to help reconnect families, exploited as a means of skirting immigration.  Marriage for the sake of immigration is the key objection here. However, real spousal sponsorship is treated as a priority.


The inter connection of our world has led to greater movement of people across national borders.  In recognition of the growing global community, Canadian immigration laws attempt to aid in reconnecting couples and families who reside in different places.  However, factors of security and public policy permeate the system and delay processing of cases.  There are different options available for couples in different situations.  Legal experience in this area will greatly benefit those who desire a smooth resolution of their immigration challenges.


Source : Forbes

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