The Blog of Martineau & Mindicanu

Sponsoring a spouse

Spouse sponsorshipThe Spousal sponsorship program was created in order to help families reunite, this being one of the main goals of Canadian Immigration Law. Even though it is supposed to be on top of the priorities of the government, based on the objectives of the law, the process is not as fast as expected by the many spouses willing to build a family in Canada with their Canadian partners.

In a previous entry we wrote about Myths and Truths regarding this program. This article is about the main subtleties regarding the process.
Who can be sponsored?
Persons of 18 years old and over, in a monogamous relationship with the sponsor:

  • A husband or wife (marriages via power of attorney are not accepted, the physical presence of both parties is mandatory at the time of the marriage);
  • A common-law partner (for this at least twelve months of continuous cohabitation as a couple, that is, under the same roof, with different proofs in support);
  • Or a conjugal partner (in a love relationship for at least 12 months, incapable of cohabiting for reasons beyond the control of the partners, for example for reasonable fear of persecution, because of a war) .

-and their dependent children (of 18 years old or under).
Who can be a sponsor?
Someone who:

  • Is at least 18 years old;
  • Holds Permanent resident or Citizen status;
  • In case of being a Permanent resident, resides in Canada;
  • Is willing to financially engage with Canada or Quebec as to economically support their partner;
  • Has not sponsored another partner in the past 3 years;
  • Has not been sponsored him/herself in the past 5 years;
  • Does not receive social aid from the provincial government (welfare);
  • Is not in jail;
  • Doesn’t have a criminal background as either a sexual offender nor of violence against a family member;
  • Holds no debt towards Immigration Canada or, in the case of Quebec, has never failed to fulfill a financial engagement of a previous sponsorship;
  • Is not under an undischarged bankruptcy or has not failed to fulfill alimony/spousal maintenace obligations.

What does a sponsorship imply?
The government gives the sponsored person the Permanent residence status. The sponsor takes on the responsibility of ensuring their partner’s integration for a period of 3 years counting from the day the sponsored person becomes a resident (10 years for accompanying children). This means that if the sponsored person asks the government for welfare, the sponsor will then be in debt with the government.
Sponsored persons’ rights
Having the Permanent residence means having the same rights and responsibilities as a Citizen (except the right to vote or to hold a Canadian passport). However in order to maintain the status, one must reside on Canadian soil for at least 730 days within a period of 5 years (except for a few exceptions). In order to apply for citizenship, the requirement is to have been living in Canada for at least 4 years in the past 6.
Special conditions
As of October 25, 2012, sponsored persons are given Conditional permanent residence. This means that sponsored residents can only keep their status as long as they maintain their relationship with the sponsor for the first two years. This however does not apply for those in a relationship for more than 2 years at the time of submitting the file or who have a child in common.
What needs to be proved?
That the relationship is authentic. In order to convince the officer of this, it is necessary to give as many possible details regarding the relationship’s authenticity. Photos and proofs of trips and activities done together, photos that prove that the relationship is known by friends and family, and photos that show how the relationship evolved as time passed can serve as proof. Financial commitments in common, children in common, proof of cohabitation, and constant communication (for this, phone bills, chat and videochat logs, Skype calls, WhatsApp and emails history, etc., can be provided) are other types of proofs the office will look for.
A complete and well-presented file is extremely important in order to minimize the processing times and avoid an interview with an immigration officer.
Types of sponsorship

  1. From outside Canada

This applies when the person to be sponsored resides outside Canada. There are two stages to this process: the federal government’s approval and the Canadian embassy’s approval. For Quebec, there is also the provincial approval stage.
The process takes between 9 and 30 months, depending on the case and the processing office.

  1. From within Canada

This is an option for sponsored persons that reside in Canada. The application is processed in Canada without having to pass through the embassy and, as an advantage, the sponsored person can be issued a Work Permit after 4 months, valid for 2 years.
The process takes some 28 months, depending on the case and the processing times of the government at the time of analyzing the file.

Do you have questions on your particular case?

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