Spouse or Common Law Partner Sponsorship to Canada FAQ

Being separated from your spouse or partner because of immigration rules is a trying and difficult situation. The process to gain immigration approval for your loved one can be complicated and lengthy, as there are a myriad of different scenarios that each require a different solution in order to ensure that your sponsorship application proceeds quickly and gets approved. Read on for a discussion of the questions that arise most often with our clients who are preparing to sponsor their spouse or partner.

I want my spouse to live with me in Canada while we wait for the sponsorship to process, but she keeps getting refused a visa to travel to Canada. Why?

When a foreign national is applying for a temporary resident visa to Canada, the visa officer is compelled to assess whether the individual has the intention to live in Canada on a temporary or a permanent basis. When a foreign national has a partner who is Canadian, that demonstrates a strong tie to Canada and raises the question of whether the foreign national has a permanent or a temporary intent in travelling to Canada. If the application for a visitor’s visa did not demonstrate a strong case as to why the foreign national is planning to travel to Canada only for a time limited basis, with documented reasons why the foreign national will be returning to their country of residence, then the officer will be likely to refuse a temporary application when a Canadian partner is part of the equation.

Do we qualify as common law?

To be considered common law for immigration purposes you must have co-habited in an exclusive, conjugal relationship with your partner for a minimum of 12 consecutive months; and have combined your affairs in much the same way as a married couple would.

What is the conjugal category for?

The conjugal category is used exclusively for relationships that are legitimate but for reasons outside of the control of the applicants, the parties cannot legally marry or cohabit. The most common example of a situation in which a conjugal application may be appropriate is that of a same sex couple where at least one of the partners lives in a country in which same sex relationships are illegal. Thus, the couple cannot legally marry and has no option to reside together in order to meet the common law definition.

My partner is married in his home country and divorce is illegal there. What options do we have?

This is a common situation. It may be possible for your partner to pursue a divorce in the jurisdiction of his current residence. If you are able to live together, then it would also be possible to apply as common law partners once you have reached the 12 months timeframe, even if your partner is not divorced.

I can’t link my application to my online account. It tells me the application can’t be found. What am I doing wrong?

Linking online applications can be a trying experience. The factor that we have found most often to be causing issues in linking sponsorship applications is the question where it asks you how many applicants are included in the application. This total should include the sponsor, the principal applicant plus any dependent children listed on the IMM0008. If that doesn’t work, our best advice is to give up trying to link it and just use the Case Specific Enquiry webform for your particular visa office in order to submit any requested updates.

At the time we applied for sponsorship, we were planning to move back to Canada as soon as my spouse was approved for PR. Now that our application is in process, I have a better job offer overseas and we plan to remain overseas once the Permanent Residence is granted. Does this affect our application?

Yes, this does affect your application. When you completed your application to sponsor, you indicated that you are a Canadian citizen who is residing overseas but that you intend to return to live in Canada once the Permanent Residence application has been finalized for your spouse or partner. The requirement for a sponsor to intend to reside in Canada once the foreign national becomes a permanent resident is contained within the Regulations and is a material factor towards being eligible to sponsor in the first place. If this intention changes prior to your spouse becoming a Permanent Resident, then you need to notify IRCC of your change in intention and it is likely that your application will be refused. Your remedy would be to apply again for the sponsorship once you actually intend to return to live in Canada. Failure to notify IRCC of this change in circumstances could result in a finding of misrepresentation with the accompanying 5 year ban at a future date.

I have separated from my Canadian spouse or partner. What happens to my status?

If your relationship has broken down before your permanent resident status has been finalized, then it is imperative that you notify IRCC. You should expect that your application for Permanent Residence will be refused, and now is the time to sort out what other options you have to remain in Canada if it is your desire to do so. One note of caution: in the world of romantic relationships break ups and reconciliations can be a normal part of some long-term relationships. If your relationship has followed this sort of a pattern in the past, it might be a good idea to wait 2-4 weeks post break up before notifying IRCC. If you are called for a landing appointment during this time period and you have not reconciled with your spouse or partner, just ask for a new appointment at a later date so that you have time to finalize your relationship status. Do not land as a permanent resident if your relationship has broken down.

I have separated from my foreign national spouse or partner. How can I get them kicked out of Canada?

Once a foreign national becomes a Permanent Resident, sponsors do not have the ability to decide if they can remain in Canada or not. Your ex-spouse or partner is entitled to live in Canada as long as they meet all conditions imposed upon them as Permanent Residents of Canada. However, if you feel that you were duped into the relationship strictly so that the foreign national could obtain status in Canada, you can report your situation to Canada Border Services Agency by calling 1.888.502.9060 and they may choose to investigate.

I have been asked by a family to marry their daughter so that she can remain in Canada. I am willing to do this, even though we don’t have any relationship. How should we proceed?

Good question! You should not proceed. It is illegal to participate in such a scheme and you could end up facing criminal charges. Think about your name in the news, lawyer bills and a criminal record that may prevent you from travelling outside of Canada. That’s a high price to pay for doing someone else a favor.

The Way Immigration regularly works with Spousal and Partner sponsorship applications. We would be pleased to assist you with understanding your best options to have your loved ones join you in Canada as quickly and as easily as possible.



Fran Wipf is an expert in Canadian immigration matters. She was licensed as an immigration consultant in 2008, and since that time, she has assisted thousands of individuals, families and businesses to find Canadian immigration success. You can learn more about Fran, and the services she offers, at www.thewayimmigration.ca


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