The spousal sponsorship program is available to a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner of a Canadian citizen or a Canadian permanent resident. Successful applicants who reside outside of Canada will be issued a Canada Spouse Visa, by which they will become permanent residents and applicants who are already in Canada, will have their status changed to Permanent Resident.
Who can be sponsored under the spousal sponsorship program?
A sponsor, who must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident can seek immigrations benefits on behalf the following partners:
- Spouse: a spouse refers to anyone who is legally married to the sponsor. The marriage must have been considered legal in both the county of marriage as well as under Canadian laws;
- Common-law partner: Under Canadian laws, in order to be considered a common-law partner, the applicant and the sponsor must have cohabitated as a couple for at least one year. This does not necessarily mean that you must have lived together for a continuous period of 12 months, however, you will have to demonstrate the authenticity of the relationship by demonstrating that you have combined your separate financial and other matters since the cohabitation;
- Conjugal partner: A conjugal partner is one who is otherwise deemed to be a spouse or a common law partner, but due to circumstances beyond their control were not able to apply under one of the other two categories. For example, someone who was not allowed to live together because of the laws of their county, but who are otherwise a couple (evidence must be provided that cohabitation was rendered impossible).
We are engaged, do we qualify for a Fiancé Visa?
There is no separate category for engaged couples, however, most qualify for spousal sponsorship via the common-law partner category. In certain cases, it helps to actually be legally married before applying if cohabitation was not achieved for a consecutive period of 12 months.
Who can be a sponsor under the program?
To qualify as a sponsor under the spousal sponsorship program, the following conditions must be met:
- The sponsor must have proof and demonstrate that he or she is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada;
- The sponsor must be willing to submit an application on behalf of his partner;
- The sponsor must be at least 18 years old; and
- The sponsor must prove his financial ability to support and sponsor his partner.
He or she will also have to sign a spousal sponsorship agreement by which they pledge to financially support the partner for a period of three years after they become a permanent resident.
Who is excluded from being able to sponsor a partner?
Some factors will not permit a sponsor to apply for his partner for spousal sponsorship, even if the above conditions are met. These factors include:
- If you have been convicted of a violent and sexual crime in the past. This could at times include threats of violence etc;
- If you are currently receiving financial assistance from the government, except disability;
- If you have declared bankruptcy and have yet to be discharged from bankruptcy at the moment where the application for spousal sponsorship is submitted;
- If you have defaulted on a previous spousal sponsorship agreement obligation;
- If you have ever violated a court order to pay child support or alimony;
- If you have ever failed to pay an immigration loan;
- If you are currently in prison or under a Removal from Canada Order;
- If you have yourself been sponsored through the spousal sponsorship program in the last five years;
- If you have sponsored someone else in the past three years and three years have not passed since they have become a permanent resident of Canada.
What does the financial support as per the spousal sponsorship agreement entail?
The sponsor will be asked to sign a spousal sponsorship agreement, by which he or she agreed to provide financial support to his partner for the three years following him or her becoming a Canadian permanent resident. It must also be noted that the obligation will remain valid even if the couple ends up separating or divorcing during the course of the three years following becoming a permanent resident.
The sponsor will have to demonstrate that he or she has enough financial resources to support both himself and his partner, this includes a dwelling, transportation, medical and dental care, clothing, basic everyday care, household goods and food. A sponsor who is low-income pay choose to have his partner co-sign the agreement, by way of which the partner agrees to contribute financially to the household.
What are some benefits of the program?
In the past year, the Canadian government has made family reunification one of their top immigration priorities, which means that for the year 2018, spousal sponsorship applications will be processed at much faster rates than they ever have in the past. Furthermore, the application process has now become more simplified, with one application for both inside and outside Canada applications, with fewer questions regarding the relationship validity and no medical exams to be completed up-front. Most applications are processed within a twelve month time period, as per the IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) guidelines.
What documents will I need to apply?
The following are some of the documents and forms that will be required of you to provide when applying for spousal sponsorship:
- A photocopy of both sides of the sponsor’s Permanent Resident Card or other proof of permanent residency, or a copy of the sponsor’s proof of Canadian citizenship (such as passport, or birth certificate);
- A photocopy of every page of the partner’s passport;
- Two passport-sized pictures of the partner;
- Any proof of the partner’s immigration status is Canada, if applying from within Canada;
- Proof of payment of fees for the application;
- Photocopy of the marriage license or certificate if applying as a spouse type partner;
- Proof of validity of the relationship, such as photographs, letters of support from people who can attest to your relationship etc. if applying as common-law type partner;
- Proof of sponsor’s financial capacity to support the partner, including a Notice of Assessment from the previous year and a letter of employment attesting to the employment currently held;
- Police clearance certificates, where applicable;
- Proof of medical examination;
- All relevant official application forms.
For any further information, to inquire whether you are eligible to sponsor or be sponsored under spousal immigration to Canada and to obtain a free consultation with an immigration lawyer specialized in spousal sponsorship to Canada, call us today at 1-888-603-3003.