There are two ways to apply for Spousal or Common Law sponsorship to Canada – overseas or inland. The factor that most often determines the appropriate pathway for a client residing in Canada is: do you need to work or do you need to travel?
If you need to travel – then you should apply through the overseas sponsorship route. You can leave Canada after applying for an outland spousal sponsorship. This is the option to use if you want to travel outside Canada while waiting for PR.
If you need to work – then you should apply through the inland sponsorship route.
But we often find that some clients want to do both, even though travel outside of Canada is not recommended for inland sponsorship applicants while their application for Permanent Residence is in process.
Why? It’s because your re-entry is not guaranteed – it will depend on the Port of Entry officer to let you back into Canada or not. If you are not allowed re-entry to Canada, your in-Canada class application will be cancelled, as you need to be IN Canada for the processing of this application.
Furthermore, it gets harder, not easier, to enter Canada when the border officer knows that your spouse or Common-law partner is in Canada. This is counterintuitive, but remember that when you come to the port of entry, you are asking to enter as a visitor – meaning you are coming for a short time and will return to your home when your visit is done. If your spouse or common-law partner lives in Canada and you have made your home with them, then you are not really a genuine visitor who is intending to return home outside of Canada – and a border officer could refuse you entry on that basis.
Frequently asked questions regarding In-Canada class sponsorships:
1. Can I travel outside of Canada if I’ve applied for an inland sponsorship?
The simple answer is yes, you can travel. Anyone can leave Canada, at any time. The main issue is, will you get back in? And what happens if you don’t get back in? A foreign national is never guaranteed entry to Canada. It takes only a few months to process an inland spousal sponsorship, so our best advice is just to wait for your PR before travelling outside of Canada.
2. My status as a worker/student/visitor is expiring and I applied for an open work permit with my sponsorship application. Can I leave and come back to Canada while my open work permit application is in the process?
If you apply for an inland sponsorship and an open work permit at the same time, and if your application is received by IRCC before the date your status expires, and if your application is accepted for processing, it’s like the expiry date on your current permit gets extended until IRCC makes a decision on the work permit application you submitted. This is called maintained or implied status. You have legal status to stay inside Canada, and if you were here as a worker, then you can continue to work.
However, if you leave Canada once your current work permit has expired but your new work permit has not been issued, you will not be able to return to work in Canada until after you receive the new work permit. You can enter as a visitor and then wait for the work permit.
3. What happens if I have an emergency that requires me to leave Canada while IRCC processes my application for permanent residence?
If you have to travel outside Canada due to an emergency, contact an authorized immigration specialist (consultant or lawyer) before you travel. There are documents that you can prepare in advance that may assist you at the port of entry upon your return, and you should have an honest assessment of the importance of being able to travel versus the risk you are taking with your application that is in process.
4. I already left Canada and I was denied re-entry, what do I do now? What happens to my inland application?
You can try to enter Canada again and see what happens. Sometimes a different officer on a different day will make a different decision.
If you are not able to return to Canada, unfortunately, you are going to have to start your sponsorship application all over again, this time with an outland spousal sponsorship. You will need to withdraw your in-Canada class application in order to start another one from outside of Canada. If your application is already in process, you won’t get a refund for the application fees ($550). If your application is not in the process yet, you may be able to get a refund, but a refund can take months to process and is not guaranteed. Don’t forget that this means a whole new set of updated forms, support documents with a more recent date and potentially, new police clearances.
Note that many people do come and go successfully with an inland sponsorship application in process. However, every time they leave the country, they are taking the risk that their return to Canada could be refused or delayed – and therefore cause issues with the approval of their PR. This is an especially important consideration during the COVID era, when sudden entry bans, and flight cancellations can cause significant delays to travel plans. One of the eligibility criteria for approval of an inland sponsorship is also that you have lived together during the processing of the application – so an extended absence from Canada can also cause problems even if you are allowed to re-enter.
5. Can I change my application from inland to an overseas sponsorship? Or from an overseas sponsorship to an inland sponsorship?
No, although the application packages themselves will be very similar, the underlying legal framework and process are different for an inland sponsorship than for an overseas sponsorship. The applications are even processed at different IRCC offices. Once you have submitted an application under one stream, you can’t ask to have it changed to a different stream. If you find that you must change categories for some reason, the solution would be to withdraw your spousal sponsorship and submit a new application.
It’s an exciting time to start the process of having your family join you in Canada, but there are many considerations to take into account when deciding to go for an inland or outland spousal sponsorship. The Way Immigration has been involved with thousands of successful family sponsorship applications. Contact our office today, to gain clear insight into the best family sponsorship process, so that you can have your family reunited in Canada and ensure your application is properly done the first time.