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Spousal Sponsorship FAQ: How to Bring Your Partner to Canada

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A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern, Ksenia started her legal career at one of Canada’s top immigration firms, where she operated her own immigration law practice, with a focus on corporate and individual immigration applications.
kesenia tchern spousal sponsorship

Spousal Sponsorship FAQ: How to Bring Your Partner to Canada

Canada’s spousal sponsorship program allows Canadian residents to bring their partner to live with them permanently. However, you must apply first — and that can be a complicated, time-consuming process.

We published a comprehensive guide to spousal partnership applications in 2021, and continue to deal with many clients who want to secure permanent residents for their loved one. And, as applicants often ask the same questions when they contact us for help, we’ve created this in-depth spousal sponsorship FAQ. Read on for all the answers you need to get started with your application.

Am I Eligible to Sponsor My Spouse or Partner Under Canada’s Spousal Sponsorship Program?

You can apply to sponsor your spouse or partner under Canada’s spousal sponsorship program if you are:

  • A Canadian citizen
  • A permanent resident
  • Aged 18 or older
  • Currently living in Canada or intend to return from abroad when your partner secures permanent residence in Canada
  • Financially able to provide for your partner’s basic needs for at least three years

You should also have:

  • No criminal convictions
  • No history of bankruptcy
  • No convictions for violent or sexual crimes
  • No government assistance unless in special circumstances

However, please be aware: eligibility does not mean that your application is certain to be approved. Various other factors will affect whether your spouse or partner can become a permanent resident of Canada.

Who Can Apply for Permanent Residence Under Spousal Sponsorship?

Canada’s immigration laws recognize same-sex marriages and same-sex common-law partners as eligible for the program. Marriages between partners of opposite or same sexes are recognized if the ceremony was legally performed in Canada. However, marriages performed outside Canada are only eligible if the wedding was legally recognized in the respective country.

You may sponsor your common-law partner, whether you’re in an opposite- or same-sex relationship, if you’ve lived with them for 12 consecutive months or longer.

Conjugal partners in opposite- or same-sex relationships can also be sponsored. A conjugal partner is defined as someone who:

  • Lives in another country
  • Has been part of a conjugal relationship for 12 months or longer
  • Is unable to live with their partner as a couple due to reasons outside their control, such as religion, immigration laws, or sexual orientation

What Documentation Do I Need for Canada’s Spousal Sponsorship Program?

You must demonstrate that you and your spouse or partner are in a genuine relationship. You can submit different types of documentation to support your application, including:

  • Marriage certificate (when applicable)
  • Phone records
  • Photographs
  • Emails
  • Birth certificates for children you and your partner have together
  • Adoption records if you and your partner have adopted a child
  • Proof of a shared bank account
  • Utility bills carrying both names
  • Copy of identification issued by a government body

We’ll provide you with more information on essential documentation, and ensure your application is fully prepared to present the best case possible before submission.

How Much Will I Need to Pay to Sponsor My Partner to Move to Canada?

Applying to make your spouse or partner a permanent resident in Canada comes with a number of fees, depending on the specifics of your case.

Anyone who becomes a permanent resident will be expected to pay the right of permanent residence fee, and the Government of Canada recommends that applicants pay immediately to avoid potential delays if permission is granted.

Other potential fees are listed below.

Sponsoring your spouse or partner:

  • Sponsorship fee — CAN$75
  • Principal applicant processing fee — CAN$475
  • Right of permanent residence fee — CAN$500

You may apply without paying the right of permanent residence fee initially, though it will be required if your spouse or partner is approved.

Sponsoring a dependent child:

  • Sponsorship fee — CAN$75
  • Processing fee — CAN$75

You may pay a CAN$150 processing fee to include a dependent child on an application.

Biometrics fees:

  • Fee per person — CAN$85
  • Fee per family (two or more people) — CAN$170

We’ll discuss the standard fees involved in your spousal sponsorship program, as well as any other costs incurred, in detail. We’re dedicated to transparent client service and care.

Should My Partner Be Able to Speak English or French?

Your spouse or partner does not need to demonstrate their ability to speak English or French fluently during the application process.

However, if they apply for Canadian citizenship in the future, they will be required to undertake a language proficiency test at that time.

Can I Sponsor My Spouse If They’re Outside Canada?

If your spouse or partner is living outside Canada at present, their application will be processed in their country of origin. They will be able to appeal a refusal at the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD).

You may apply to sponsor your spouse as a conjugal partner if more than 12 months have passed since you lived together due to immigration restrictions.

Can I Include My Spouse’s Children When Applying?

Any dependent children who would accompany your spouse or partner can be included on the application.

Will We Be Required to Attend an Interview?

It’s unlikely that you’ll be required to attend an interview when submitting a spousal sponsorship application. However, immigration officers will want to interview you under certain circumstances.

Possible reasons include:

  • If you’re unable to present enough documentation to satisfactorily support the authenticity of your relationship
  • If any information presented is contradictory
  • If you have spent too little time living together

Ideally, you’ll demonstrate that you and your spouse or partner are in a genuine relationship during your application, making an interview unnecessary. But as experienced immigration lawyers in Toronto, we’ll help you prepare for your interview and advise you to present a convincing case.

How to Get Started with Your Spousal Sponsorship Application

Submitting a spousal sponsorship application can be a daunting prospect, and any mistakes or omissions can cause long delays in the future.

Abramovich & Tchern will help you understand how to prepare your application properly, what information to include, what fees you need to pay, and everything else involved in the process.

Book your 30 to 60-minute consultation with our immigration lawyers to get started today.

Ksenia Tchern

A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern, Ksenia started her legal career at one of Canada’s top immigration firms, where she operated her own immigration law practice, with a focus on corporate and individual immigration applications.