Spousal Sponsorship Canada
Sponsoring a Spouse, Common-Law or Conjugal Partner to Canada
Every year thousands of applicants become Permanent Residents through approved spousal, common-law, or conjugal partner applications. If you are thinking about sponsoring your spouse or partner for Canadian Permanent Residence under the Family class, there are three general areas to consider: Sponsor Eligibility, Sponsorship Process, and Sponsorship Conditions.
Before sponsoring your spouse or partner to become a permanent resident, there are certain conditions that must be met. If you fail to meet any of the following conditions then you will be unable to act as a sponsor for your spouse or partner:
You must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
You must be at least 18 years old.
You will be required to reside in Canada.
If you sponsor your spouse or partner and are not currently living in Canada, you will be required to provide proof that you intend to return once his or her permanent residence is approved. Once an application is approved, the sponsor will need to return to Canada.
- he sponsor and the applicant must sign an agreement that verifies each person understands his or her mutual obligations and responsibilities.
- he sponsor must sign an undertaking promise to provide support for his or her spouse or partner’s basic requirements as well as those of his or her dependent children. This undertaking is to ensure that your spouse / partner and dependent children don’t have to apply for social assistance. Basic requirements that are covered by this sponsorship undertaking are:
Eye and dental care (not covered by Canadian public health)
When applying to sponsor a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, there are no specific financial requirements that have to be met. However, the sponsor is still required to fill out a sponsorship evaluation and to provide documents that show income from the previous tax year as well as current employment.
What defines a Common-Law or Conjugal Partner?
An applicant qualifies as a common-law partner if:
They are of the opposite or same sex.
They have lived with their sponsoring partner in a conjugal relationship for a period of at least one year.
This can be proven by supporting documentation such as shared leases, utility bills, bank accounts, etc.
Despite not being married, the common-law couple exists in a married-like relationship and are living together.
The conjugal partner category allows for more flexibility in meeting the definition of a married-like relationship. This category is for applicants who would ordinarily apply as either a common-law partner or spouse, but are unable to due to their circumstances.
For example, a couple may wish to apply as common-law partners but they were unable to live together for the qualifying period of one year. In this case they would apply under the conjugal partner class and have to provide valid reasons as to why they were unable to live together.
The same rationale applies for a couple who would normally apply under the spousal class but were unable to get married. They could apply under the conjugal partner class as well and provide valid reasons as to why they were unable to get married.
Some typical reasons why couples were unable to live together or get married are:
Sexual orientation (there may be cultural barriers in place depending on the culture)
Immigration barriers (the couple was unable to maintain a valid visa in order to live together)
Marital status (there may be cultural barriers or laws that prohibit the marriage or a divorce from a previous relationship)
These reasons should be largely out of the sponsor’s or applicant’s control. For example, if a couple chose not to live together due to having jobs in different countries, this would not qualify as a valid reason.
Canadian Spousal Sponsorship Process
The sponsorship process begins when you submit your application to Citizenship and Immigration Canada for spousal sponsorship. A complete application package will contain all of the necessary forms and supporting documentation required in order to assist the immigration officer in reaching a decision. Information guides and applications can be found on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.
In addition to submitting the paperwork, every spousal, common-law or conjugal partner application must have proof that the government fees have been paid. If the related fees are not paid, the application cannot be processed.
Once the sponsorship application has been approved and the applicant is offered a permanent resident visa, he or she must come to Canada before the visa expires. In addition, you may be requested to pay the Right of Permanent Residence Fee if you have not already done so.
Spousal Sponsorship Conditions
Recently, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has introduced new measures to combat marriages of convenience. There have been many documented cases of applicants receiving permanent residence by entering into a non-genuine relationship. The temptation can be great to abuse the immigration system in this way, as a successful applicant has access to Canadian social services and other benefits that come with permanent residency. In some cases, a Canadian sponsor will accept some form of payment for participating in a false spousal, common-law or conjugal partner application.
To combat marriages of convenience, 2 conditions have recently been introduced: 5 year ban on spousal and partner sponsorships and conditional permanent residence. These will be discussed in more detail below.
5 Year Ban on Spousal and Partner Sponsorships in Canada
Once an applicant has been successfully sponsored by their spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, he or she will receive permanent resident status upon arrival in Canada. Once in Canada, a 5 year period begins in which the sponsored applicant cannot sponsor a new spouse or partner.
For example, let’s say Jane is sponsored by her common-law partner to come and live with him in Canada. Shortly after receiving her permanent residence and arriving in Canada, the couple begins to have difficulties. 3 years later they break up and move into separate apartments. Jane still remains a permanent resident. However, if she meets someone new and decides to sponsor them, she will have to wait another 2 years to do so.
This condition only applies to spousal, common-law or conjugal sponsorships. Sponsoring another member of the family class (for example, a parent) would be allowed regardless of the 5 year ban.
Conditional Permanent Residence for Sponsored Spouses, Common-Law or Conjugal Partners in Canada
As of October 25, 2012, all new spousal or partner sponsorships are subject to the new conditions introduced under Conditional Permanent Residence. Basically, this applies to you if your relationship is less than 2 year and you don’t have children in common with your sponsor.
Permanent residency is granted to these applicants with the condition that they must live together for 2 years from the day he or she receives permanent residence. After the 2 year period, the relationship will be re-evaluated for its legitimacy. During the 2 year period, a sponsored person under conditional permanent residence has all the same benefits that a regular Canadian permanent resident has.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada defines living together or “cohabitation” as two people who share one dwelling and have combined their affairs together. Naturally there are exceptions made for short periods of time spent apart for work, vacations, etc. Ultimately the couple must have spent the majority of a 2 year period living together.
Exceptions to Conditional Permanent Residence
There are 2 exceptions that can nullify the conditional permanent residence requirement. These are death of the sponsoring spouse, common-law or conjugal partner and ending of a conjugal relationship due to abuse or neglect.
Naturally, if the sponsor passes away during the 2 year conditional period, the sponsored person does not automatically lose his or her permanent residency. However, steps should be taken by the sponsored person to clarify the situation with Citizenship and Immigration Canada. This means that a death certificate or attestation from the funeral home should be submitted as well as any evidence that proves the couple lived together up until the sponsor’s death.
The other scenario that exempts the conditional permanent residence requirement is when the sponsored person chooses to stop living together with his or her spouse due to abuse or neglect. In this case, the sponsored person must show that he or she has suffered physical, sexual, psychological, or financial abuse which necessitated an end to the couple’s cohabitation. For neglect, the same would apply. The sponsored person would have to show that the sponsor was unable to meet the conditions of the undertaking in terms of food, clothing, shelter, etc.
This definition of abuse or neglect also extends to dependent children of the sponsored person.
Sponsoring a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner for Canadian permanent residence is a complex process which requires attention to detail and patience. If you are considering sponsoring, allow our legal team to assist you in putting together the best application possible. Our experienced team of Canadian immigration lawyers and consultants are ready to help!
Who is Eligible for Family Class Sponsorship?
The family class sponsorship application of Canada is available if you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident living in Canada, and you want to sponsor close family members living abroad, including:
- His or her spouse
- Common-law partner
- Conjugal partner
- Dependent child
- Adopted children
When sponsoring your loved ones do not take the chance of making a mistake which will cause months of delay. Hire a
professional with years of experience, calls us today!
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