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Spousal Sponsorship from Outside Canada

Family Class Sponsorship

Canadian citizens and permanent residents may sponsor close family members for their permanent residence in Canada. Canada has one of the most generous family reunification programs in the developed world. Canadian government is committed to keeping families together whenever possible, and prioritizes the processing of sponsorship applications.

Spousal Sponsorships

In Canadian family class sponsorship applications, it is important to demonstrate that the spousal partner is immigrating to Canada because of you and not just because of his or her desire to live and/or work in the country. Therefore, you will need to prove that your relationship with your spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner is genuine. Proof of a genuine relationship with your spousal partner can be demonstrated via a marriage certificate and/or some of the following documentation:

  • Frequent communication such as letters, emails, chat conversations, phone calls, etc;
  • Photographs of you and your partner together before and after the commencement of the relationship;
  • Joint bank accounts for the couple;
  • Life Insurance policy showing spousal partner as a beneficiary

Common Law Partner

A common law partner refers to 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. A conjugal relationship exists when there is a significant degree of commitment between the two people.

Proof of a relationship between a common law partner can be shown with evidence that the couple share the same home, support each other financially and emotionally, have children together and 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, or who have been separated for reasons beyond their control (e.g. civil war, or armed conflict) may still qualify and should be included in the application.

Conjugal Partner

A conjugal partner is a foreign national residing outside Canada, who has been in a conjugal relationship with a sponsor for at least one year, but could not live with the sponsor as a couple. This term applies to both heterosexual and homosexual couples. This category was established for partners of sponsors who normally would present an application as a spouse or common-law partner but could not do so, due to circumstances beyond their control (e.g. immigration barrier, religious reasons, or sexual orientation). Thus, they could not live together for a period of at least one year.

In most cases, the foreign partner is also not able to legally 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 bona fide (genuine) conjugal relationship for a period of at least one year.

However, a significant degree of attachment and mutually interdependence between both partners must be demonstrated. They must also provide proof of the obstacles or restrictions that prevent cohabitation or marriage.

Same-Sex Partnerships

Same-sex partners are eligible for sponsorship under the Canadian family sponsorship as long as the marriage was legally recognized in the country where it occurred. This includes same-sex marriages within and outside of Canada. It is your responsibility to provide Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada the information about whether or not your same-sex marriage was legally recognized, as well as when and where it occurred.

The spousal sponsorship involves a two step process. An eligible sponsor must submit a sponsorship undertaking and the sponsored person must submit application for permanent residence in Canada. The process has been changing from time to time. There were days when the two steps were completed separately but nowadays both the applications are submitted simultaneously. Once the sponsorship undertaking is approved from Case Processing Centre (Sydney, Nova Scotia), the application for permanent residence is sent to the appropriate Visa Post or Immigration Office where the officials make final determinations. The applicant and the sponsor can be interviewed or the interview can be waived depending upon the case scenarios.

If the applicant resides with the sponsor in Canada, the sponsorship undertaking can be processed from within Canada from Case Processing Centre (Mississauga).

Processing Times Family Sponsorship processing times vary from one Canadian Visa Office to another.

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