Spousal and Common Law Sponsorship

Spousal and Common Law Sponsorships

If you are a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident, at least 18 years old and residing, or intending to reside in Canada, you may be eligible to submit an application to sponsor your foreign national spouse and dependents to become permanent residents of Canada.

Family reunification is one of pillars of the immigration legislation. As a result, sponsorships by Canadian citizens or permanent residents of their foreign national spouses and dependents have priority over many other independent applications and are some of the fastest applications processed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, who since December 2016 have committed to processing at least 80% of these applications within 12 months.

Married spouses, common-law partners (which means you have lived together for a continuous 12 month period), conjugal partners (which means you have been together in a committed relationship for 12 months but could not live together) are all considered members of the family class, including same sex partners.

Essentially, there are three components of a spousal or common law partnership application:

  1. The sponsor must meet eligibility requirements;
  2. the marriage or common-law relationship must be genuine and subsisting and not entered into primarily for the purposes of acquiring status in Canada; and
  3. the sponsored person must not be inadmissible to Canada for medical or security reasons.

Ultimately, the application process allows an immigration officer to be satisfied from the information and supporting documents provided, that you and your partner, whether married or not, have an exclusive and committed relationship. They seek evidence that demonstrates an interdependency from an emotional, financial and social perspective.

Options for Sponsorship: In-Canada Application or Out of Canada Application?

Spousal and common-law partner sponsorship applications may be made in the “inside Canada” category or the “outside Canada” category. There are pros and cons to each option. Your personal circumstances and needs will dictate which option will work for you. Some of the advantages and disadvantages are:

  • Notwithstanding that IRCC maintain that processing times for both the In and Out of Canada options will process, on average, within 12 months – it seems that in most cases we have that the Out of Canada applications continue to process faster.
  • Since 2014, a pilot project is providing the ability for spouses or partners to make an open work permit application in conjunction with an In-Canada application.
  • In certain circumstances, the Out of Canada application carries a right of appeal.

What does sponsorship mean?

A sponsor must sign an agreement that confirms their understanding and agreement to support their spouse or partner (and any family members) during the period of the undertaking (three years from the approval of permanent residency) for basic requirements of food, shelter, clothing, fuel, utilities, household supplies and health care not provided by the public health system. In addition, the sponsor agrees that the family member will not need to apply for social assistance or benefits and should they do so, the sponsor will be obligated to be reimburse these amounts and enforcement action can be taken if necessary.


We have helped many people with the sponsorship process and can genuinely say this is our favorite application to assist with. There is great satisfaction in helping families unite and we like to alleviate as much stress as possible for them from this process.

Please contact us for further advice or to schedule a consultation to discuss your personal circumstances and the options that are available to you and your spouse or partner.

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