Sometimes prospective immigrants to Canada will meet the criteria for more than one program and need to decide which pathway is the better option to apply for Permanent Residence in Canada. Most often, this dilemma applies to foreign nationals who are in a relationship with a Canadian but also meet the criteria for an economic immigration application, like Express Entry or a Provincial Nominee Program. The best pathway for each applicant will be different due to unique personal circumstances; however, these are the main considerations when pondering your best option to apply for Permanent Residence in Canada.
Timeframe to meet eligibility requirements
There are always eligibility requirements for every application stream and taking into account how long you have to wait before you can apply for Permanent Residence is a key consideration. I always advise clients to apply for Permanent Residence in Canada at the earliest possible opportunity, because Canada’s immigration rules change constantly, and you could find that something changes and you are no longer eligible to apply.
When considering a sponsorship on the basis of your relationship to a Canadian, consider how long it will take before you are either married or you meet the common law definition of residing together for a minimum of 12 months consecutively.
An economic application often requires that you work in Canada for a specific period of time – usually 12 months.
Economic applications always require that you take a language test and have your education assessed according to Canadian standards. These language tests and educational assessments are expensive and a bit of a hassle to obtain. Sometimes you need to travel to the testing center or wrestle with the University that you attended years ago to have your records sent to Canada.
Spouse or common law partner sponsorships do not require any kind of language test or educational assessment, but you will need to compile an evidence package that details your relationship with your Canadian spouse or partner, including photos, letters from friends & family, and evidence that you have combined your affairs like any normal couple.
Economic applications are more expensive than sponsorships. The language test and educational credential assessment cost several hundred dollars each plus the IRCC fees for economic applications are higher than for family sponsorship. In addition, if you are considering a Provincial Nominee program, most of them also require payment of a fee to apply.
IRCC application fees for Express Entry or Provincial Nominee applicants
- Principal applicant processing fee: $850
- Accompanying Spouse or Common Law partner: $850
- Accompanying dependent child: $230 each
- Right of Permanent Residence Fee: $515 each adult
IRCC application fees for Spouse or Common Law Sponsorship
- Principal applicant: $565
- Accompanying dependent child: $155 each
- Right of Permanent Residence Fee: $515 each adult
You will be required to demonstrate settlement funds for some economic applications, but not for Spouse or Common Law Partner sponsorship. However, you need to ensure that your partner is eligible to sponsor you – and some of the sponsor criteria include finances.
Is your partner an Eligible Sponsor?
Ensuring that your spouse or Common law partner is eligible to sponsor you is crucial before deciding whether to proceed with an application for PR via a sponsorship pathway or an economic pathway.
Some of the common reasons that a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident may not be eligible to sponsor a spouse or common law partner include:
- Undischarged bankruptcy
- Presently collecting welfare payments from the provincial government
- Past criminal record for domestic violence
- They were sponsored themselves for Permanent Residence within the past 5 years
This list is not exhaustive but represents the most common reasons a Canadian may be ineligible to sponsor their family member. If any of these factors apply to your potential sponsor, an economic application is going to be your only option.
Each application stream has a different processing time and different rules regarding the options you have in Canada while you want for your PR application to be finalized. It is important to consider not only the time it will take from when you submit your application to when your Permanent Residence is approved, but also what you want to be able to do during that time. You may have a work permit that you need to extend, or you may want to obtain your first work permit in Canada while waiting for your PR application – there are different options available depending on your current situation and which application pathway you choose. An economic PR application will allow you to extend your existing work permit if you meet certain deadline, whereas a spouse or common law partner sponsorship submitted inland will permit you to apply for your first work permit.
Some applications for Permanent Residence in an economic pathway require that you maintain your job or live in a certain province until after you become a Permanent Resident. Spouse or Common law partner sponsorship applications require that your relationship remains intact until after you become a Permanent Resident. It becomes a question of whether you have more confidence in your employment or in your relationship lasting the several months it will take for your application to be processed. In addition, a sponsorship application requires that the sponsor remain financially responsible for the sponsored parties after they achieve permanent residence. All of these factors need to be balanced when considering the best pathway forward to Permanent Residence.
You are required to demonstrate medical admissibility in economic PR applications, but not in family sponsorship applications. This means that if you, or any of your dependent children, have a serious medical condition or a developmental delay, your only option to achieve Permanent Residence may be a spouse or common law partner sponsorship application.
Can You Apply for Express Entry and Sponsorship at the Same Time?
Yes, you can apply for both Express Entry and Family Sponsorship at the same time, but why would you want to? You are paying double the fees, doing twice the work – and in the end you will only get Permanent Residence once. Why not just pick one application stream and do it properly?
At The Way Immigration, we regularly help our clients assess the best application pathway taking into consideration all of the specific factors that are unique in every client situation. If you are wondering what your best pathway to Permanent Residence in Canada is, contact our office today to arrange a meeting with one of our experts.