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  • Writer's pictureImmergity Immigration Consultant

Spousal Sponsorship: Key Reasons for Application Refusal in Canada

Updated: Oct 27, 2023


Reasons for Refusal of Spousal Sponsorship Application

Inadequate Documentation

When applying for spousal sponsorship, one of the most common reasons for refusal is the lack of adequate documentation.


Proof of Relationship: It's essential to provide sufficient evidence that demonstrates the genuineness of the relationship. This can include:

  • Photos together

  • Correspondence history (emails, texts, letters)

  • Joint bank accounts or leases

  • Testimonies from friends and family

  • Recent tax returns

  • Employment letters

  • Pay stubs

Medical and Police Checks: These checks ensure the sponsored spouse doesn't pose a health or security risk. Delays or refusals can occur if:

  • The medical exam isn't completed correctly

  • There's a criminal record without a proper rehabilitation application

Application Forms: Every detail matters. Common mistakes include:

  • Leaving sections blank

  • Not signing the forms

  • Using outdated forms

Consistency in Information: Discrepancies in the details provided can raise red flags. For instance:

  • Different addresses mentioned in different documents

  • Inconsistent timelines of the relationship

Supporting Documents: Depending on the country, additional documents might be required. For instance:

  • Marriage certificates authenticated according to local regulations

  • Divorce decrees if either party was previously married

Translation of Documents: All non-English or non-French documents should be:

  • Accurately translated

  • Accompanied by an affidavit from the translator

Clarity and Legibility: Ensure all documents are clear and legible. Blurred or low-quality copies can lead to refusals.


Organized Application Package: An application that's easy to navigate can expedite the process. Use:

  • Tabs or dividers

  • A table of contents

  • Clear labeling

Continuous Updates: If there are any changes in circumstances (like a change in address or job), it's crucial to update the immigration authorities promptly.


Doubts about the Genuineness of the Relationship

One of the primary concerns for immigration officers is determining whether the relationship is genuine or just for immigration benefits.

  • Short Relationship Duration: A relationship that's relatively new might raise eyebrows. It's not a deal-breaker, but couples need to provide substantial evidence of their genuine relationship.

  • Limited Time Spent Together: If the couple hasn't spent much time together in person, it can be a concern. Evidence of online communication, travel records, and future plans can help.

  • Significant Age Difference: While age shouldn't be a barrier to love, a significant age gap can raise questions. In such cases, it's essential to demonstrate the depth and sincerity of the relationship.

  • Different Cultural or Religious Backgrounds: Differences in culture or religion aren't reasons for refusal, but they can lead to additional scrutiny. Couples should be prepared to explain how they navigate these differences.

  • Previous Sponsorships by the Sponsor: If the sponsor has previously sponsored another partner, it can lead to doubts. It's crucial to clarify the reasons for the previous sponsorship and its outcome.

  • Contradictory Interview Statements: If the couple is interviewed, their answers should align. Discrepancies in:

    • How they met

    • Important dates

    • Personal preferences can be problematic.

  • Lack of Knowledge About Each Other: Not knowing significant details about each other's lives can be a red flag. Couples should be familiar with:

    • Each other's family

    • Employment history

    • Past experiences

  • Limited Evidence of Co-habitation: Living together can be strong evidence of a genuine relationship. If not cohabiting, the reasons should be clearly explained.

  • Feedback from Friends and Family: Sometimes, feedback from mutual acquaintances can be considered. Negative feedback or lack of knowledge about the relationship can be concerning.

  • Rapid Progression of Relationship: If the relationship moved exceptionally fast (e.g., marriage within a few months of meeting), it might require additional evidence to prove its genuineness.

Financial Ineligibility of the Sponsor

The financial stability of the sponsor is crucial in a spousal sponsorship application. The sponsor must demonstrate the ability to support the sponsored spouse without relying on public funds.


Minimum Income Requirement: Depending on the country, there might be a minimum income requirement for sponsors. This ensures the sponsored individual won't need social assistance.

  • Documentation: This can be proven through tax returns, employment letters, and pay stubs.

Employment Stability: A consistent employment history can be beneficial. Frequent job changes or long periods of unemployment can be concerning.

  • Evidence: Employment contracts, promotion letters, or commendations can be useful.

Debts and Liabilities: Significant debts or financial liabilities can impact the sponsor's ability to support the sponsored spouse.

  • Credit Reports: These can provide insights into the sponsor's financial health.

Previous Sponsorship Defaults: If the sponsor previously sponsored someone who later needed public funds, it could impact the current application.

  • Recovery: It's essential to ensure any debts to the government from previous sponsorships are cleared.

Bank Statements: These provide a snapshot of the sponsor's financial health.

  • Consistency: Regular income deposits and a stable balance can be reassuring.

Assets and Investments: Other than regular income, assets and investments can also be considered.

  • Documentation: Property deeds, stock certificates, and other investment documents can be provided.

Dependents: The number of dependents the sponsor has can impact the financial evaluation.

  • Details: Information about other dependents, like children or elderly parents, should be provided.

Sponsor's Expenses: High monthly expenses can be a concern, even if the sponsor has a good income.

  • Breakdown: A detailed breakdown of monthly expenses can provide clarity.

Financial Commitments: Any other financial commitments, like mortgages or loans, should be disclosed.

  • Repayment Plans: Details about how these commitments are being managed can be beneficial.

Future Employment Plans: If the sponsored spouse plans to work after moving, it can be a positive factor.

  • Evidence: Job offers or letters of intent from potential employers can be provided.

Previous Immigration Violations

Past interactions with immigration authorities can significantly impact a spousal sponsorship application. Any previous violations can raise concerns about the applicant's intentions and compliance.


Overstays: If the sponsored spouse previously stayed beyond their visa duration in any country, it can be a red flag.

  • Explanation: A detailed explanation about the reasons for the overstay and evidence that they left the country can help.

Deportation Orders: Being deported from a country can severely impact the application.

  • Rehabilitation: If applicable, showing evidence of rehabilitation or that enough time has passed since the deportation can be beneficial.

False Documentation: Using false or altered documents in any previous immigration application is a serious violation.

  • Disclosure: It's essential to disclose any such incidents and provide reasons.

Misrepresentation: Providing false information intentionally can lead to bans or refusals.

  • Clarification: If there was a genuine mistake, it should be clarified with evidence.

Illegal Work: Working without proper authorization is a violation that can impact the application.

  • Details: Any such incidents should be disclosed, with reasons and evidence of departure after the violation.

Visa Refusals: Any previous visa refusals, especially for the sponsoring country, should be disclosed.

  • Explanation: Details about why the visa was refused and how the current situation is different can help.

Criminal Convictions: Any criminal history can be a significant concern.

  • Rehabilitation: Evidence of rehabilitation, like completion of sentences or community service, can be provided.

Failure to Comply with Visa Conditions: Not adhering to the conditions of a previous visa, like not reporting to authorities when required, can be problematic.

  • Reasons: A detailed explanation about the non-compliance can be beneficial.

Multiple Applications: Submitting multiple immigration applications in a short time can raise concerns about the applicant's intentions.

  • Clarification: Providing reasons for multiple applications and evidence of genuine intent can help.

Association with Fraudulent Agencies: If the applicant was previously associated with agencies known for immigration fraud, it can be a concern.

  • Disclosure: Details about the association and evidence that the current application is genuine should be provided.

Medical Inadmissibility

The health of the sponsored spouse plays a significant role in the spousal sponsorship application. Certain medical conditions can lead to inadmissibility based on potential costs or public health concerns.


Excessive Demand on Health Services: Some countries may refuse applications if they believe the sponsored spouse's medical condition will place excessive demand on health or social services.

  • Clarification: Providing evidence that the condition can be managed without public funds or that the sponsor can cover costs can be beneficial.

Contagious Diseases: Diseases that pose a threat to public health can lead to refusals.

  • Medical Reports: Updated medical reports showing the condition is managed or not contagious can help.

Incomplete Medical Examination: Not following through with all parts of the required medical examination can lead to delays or refusals.

  • Completion: Ensure all tests and checks are completed as per guidelines.

Mental Health Concerns: Mental health issues, if not managed, can be a concern.

  • Supporting Documents: Letters from therapists or medical professionals detailing the condition and its management can be beneficial.

Drug and Substance Abuse: A history of drug or substance abuse can raise concerns about the applicant's ability to integrate and not be a burden.

  • Rehabilitation: Evidence of rehabilitation or therapy can be provided to alleviate concerns.

Previous Medical Refusals: If the sponsored spouse was previously refused due to medical reasons, it's crucial to address those concerns in the new application.

  • Updated Reports: New medical reports showing changes in condition or management can be provided.

Failure to Disclose Medical History: Not disclosing a known medical condition can be seen as misrepresentation.

  • Full Disclosure: It's essential to provide a complete medical history, even if the condition is now resolved.

Children with Medical Needs: If the sponsored spouse has children with special medical needs, it can raise concerns about potential costs.

  • Plans: Detailing plans for their care and any private insurance or funds set aside can help.

Pregnancy: While pregnancy isn't a reason for refusal, complications or health concerns arising from it should be addressed.

  • Medical Care: Providing details about prenatal care and plans for childbirth can be beneficial.

Elderly Applicants: Older applicants might face additional scrutiny due to potential health issues

  • Health Reports: Comprehensive health check-ups and reports can help in alleviating concerns.

Incomplete or Incorrect Application Forms

The application forms serve as the primary source of information for immigration officers. Any errors or omissions can lead to refusals.


Outdated Forms: Using old versions of forms can result in immediate refusals.

  • Updates: Always download forms from the official website to ensure they're current.

Missing Signatures: Overlooking signature areas is a common mistake.

  • Double-Check: Before submission, ensure all required sections are signed.

Incorrect Information: Providing wrong dates, names, or other details can be problematic.

  • Verification: Cross-check all information with supporting documents.

Unanswered Questions: Leaving questions unanswered, even if they seem irrelevant, can be an issue.

  • Completion: Answer all questions, using "N/A" where necessary.

Inconsistent Information: Discrepancies between forms and supporting documents can raise red flags.

  • Consistency: Ensure all details align across the application package.

Illegible Handwriting: Hard-to-read handwriting can lead to misunderstandings or refusals.

  • Typed Forms: Whenever possible, type the information instead of handwriting.

Overlooking Additional Forms: Depending on the case, additional forms might be required.

  • Guidelines: Follow application guidelines to ensure all necessary forms are included.

Incorrect Fee Payment: Paying the wrong amount or not including the payment can lead to delays.

  • Fee Guidelines: Double-check the required fee amount and payment method.

Not Following Instructions: Each form might have specific instructions, like using black ink or not stapling.

  • Instructions: Read and follow all form-specific instructions carefully.

Submission Without Required Translations: If any document is not in the official language, a translation is required.

  • Translations: Ensure all non-official language documents have certified translations attached.

Criminal Inadmissibility

A criminal record can be a significant barrier in a spousal sponsorship application. It's essential to understand how past offenses can impact the application and how to address them.


Undeclared Criminal History: Not disclosing a known criminal record can be seen as misrepresentation.

  • Full Disclosure: Always provide complete details of any past offenses, even if they seem minor or were a long time ago.

Serious Criminality: Crimes that resulted in long prison sentences or are considered severe can be grounds for refusal.

  • Rehabilitation: If enough time has passed and the individual has shown rehabilitation, it might be possible to overcome this inadmissibility.

Multiple Offenses: Multiple minor offenses can be viewed as an indication of character and can lead to refusal.

  • Context: Providing context and evidence of changed behavior can help.

Recent Offenses: Crimes committed recently can be of particular concern as they indicate recent behavior.

  • Rehabilitation Efforts: Detailing any therapy, community service, or other rehabilitation efforts can be beneficial.

Crimes Involving Violence: Violent crimes, especially those involving family members, can be a significant concern in spousal sponsorship applications.

  • Counseling: Evidence of counseling or therapy can help in such cases.

Drug-Related Offenses: Drug offenses can be a concern due to potential future behavior and associations.

  • Rehabilitation: Evidence of drug rehabilitation programs or clean drug tests can be beneficial.

DUI and Traffic Offenses: While some might view them as minor, repeated DUIs or serious traffic offenses can impact the application.

  • Driving Courses: Completing defensive driving courses or other relevant training can show responsibility.

Pending Charges: If there are pending charges or ongoing investigations, it can delay or impact the application.

  • Legal Documents: Providing details and potential outcomes of the case can offer clarity.

Pardons or Expungements: In some cases, criminal records might be cleared by the local authorities, but they can still be considered by immigration authorities.

  • Full Details: Always provide details of any pardons or expungements and the reasons behind them.

Country-Specific Concerns: What's considered a minor offense in one country might be viewed differently in another.

  • Legal Context: Providing context about the legal system and norms of the country where the offense occurred can help.

Failure to Meet Sponsorship Obligations

The sponsor has specific obligations to ensure the sponsored spouse doesn't become a burden on public funds. Failure to meet these obligations can impact current and future applications.


Previous Sponsorship Defaults: If a previously sponsored individual received public funds, it could be a concern.

  • Repayment: Ensure any debts to the government from previous sponsorships are cleared.

Short Duration Between Sponsorships: Sponsoring multiple partners in a short duration can raise questions about the genuineness of the relationships.

  • Evidence: Provide evidence of the genuineness of each relationship and reasons for the end of previous relationships.

Inability to Support: If the sponsor becomes unable to support the sponsored spouse during the sponsorship period, it can be grounds for refusal.

  • Financial Plans: Detailing plans to regain financial stability can be beneficial.

Not Living Together: If the sponsor and sponsored spouse don't live together during the sponsorship period, it can raise doubts.

  • Reasons: Provide valid reasons, such as work or education, for any periods of separation.

Not Updating Immigration Authorities: Failing to update authorities about changes in circumstances, like address or financial status, can be problematic.

  • Continuous Updates: Always keep immigration authorities informed of significant changes.

Sponsorship Breakdown: If a previous sponsorship relationship broke down due to not meeting obligations, it can impact future applications.

  • Evidence: Provide evidence of meeting obligations in previous sponsorships.

Not Meeting Duration Requirements: Some countries require the sponsor and sponsored spouse to live together for a specific duration.

  • Proof: Provide evidence of cohabitation for the required period.

Sponsor's Criminal Record: The sponsor's criminal record, especially offenses related to family violence, can be a concern.

  • Rehabilitation: Evidence of rehabilitation or therapy can help.

Sponsor's Bankruptcy: If the sponsor is undischarged from bankruptcy, it can be grounds for refusal.

  • Financial Health: Provide evidence of steps taken to resolve financial issues.

Sponsor's Receipt of Public Funds: If the sponsor is receiving public funds, it can indicate they might not be able to support the sponsored spouse.

  • Financial Stability: Detail plans to achieve financial stability and stop relying on public funds.

Misrepresentation or Fraud - A primary reason behind the refusal of spousal sponsorship applications in Canada.

Honesty and transparency are paramount in spousal sponsorship applications. Any hint of misrepresentation or fraud can lead to severe consequences, including bans from future applications.


False Documents: Submitting fake or altered documents, such as marriage certificates or bank statements, is a grave offense.

  • Verification: Always ensure that all documents submitted are genuine and verifiable.

Fake Relationships: Entering into a relationship solely for immigration benefits can lead to bans.

  • Evidence: Always provide robust evidence of the genuineness of the relationship, especially if there are factors that might raise suspicions.

False Statements: Providing false information, whether in written forms or during interviews, can be grounds for refusal.

  • Consistency: Ensure that all information provided is consistent and truthful.

Omission of Relevant Information: Deliberately leaving out relevant information, such as previous marriages or children, can be seen as misrepresentation.

  • Full Disclosure: Always provide complete and comprehensive information.

Using Fraudulent Agents: Engaging with agents or agencies known for fraudulent practices can impact the credibility of the application.

  • Reputable Agents: Always ensure that any agent or representative used is licensed and reputable.

Fake Employment or Financial Documents: Faking employment letters or financial documents to meet sponsorship requirements can lead to refusals.

  • Authenticity: Ensure all financial and employment documents are genuine and can be verified by authorities.

False Identity: Using a false identity or documents of another person is a serious offense.

  • Identity Proof: Always provide genuine identity documents and ensure they match with all other documents.

Previous Misrepresentation: If there was misrepresentation in a previous application, it can impact current and future applications.

  • Addressing Past Issues: Provide a detailed explanation of any previous misrepresentation and evidence of its resolution.

Fake Educational or Skill Documents: For some sponsorship categories, faking educational or skill certificates can be grounds for refusal.

  • Verification: Only provide certificates and documents from recognized and verifiable institutions.

Concealing Medical or Criminal History: Not disclosing known medical conditions or criminal history can be seen as misrepresentation.

  • Transparency: Always disclose and provide context for any medical or criminal records.

Not Meeting Residency Obligations

Certain countries have residency obligations for sponsors or sponsored spouses. Failing to meet these can impact the application's success.


Not Living in the Sponsoring Country: If the sponsor isn't residing in the country they're sponsoring for, it can be grounds for refusal.

  • Residency Proof: Provide evidence of continuous residence or valid reasons for any absences.

Sponsored Spouse Not Living in the Sponsoring Country: After approval, if the sponsored spouse doesn't reside in the sponsoring country, it can impact future applications or renewals.

  • Cohabitation Proof: Provide evidence of living together in the sponsoring country.

Extended Absences: Long periods away from the sponsoring country, without valid reasons, can be problematic.

  • Reasons for Absence: Detail reasons for any extended absences, such as work, education, or family emergencies.

Not Meeting Minimum Residency Requirements: Some countries require a minimum number of days of residence over a period for renewal of status.

  • Residency Proof: Maintain and provide records of entry and exit to meet these requirements.

Failing to Renew Status: Not renewing residency or sponsorship status on time can lead to lapses and potential refusals.

  • Timely Renewals: Always be aware of renewal dates and ensure timely applications.

Not Following Conditions of Residency: Some residencies come with conditions, like not working or studying. Violating these can impact status.

  • Awareness: Be aware of and adhere to all conditions of residency.

Tax Implications: Not filing taxes or not meeting tax obligations can be seen as not meeting residency obligations.

  • Tax Compliance: Ensure timely and accurate tax filings.

Not Updating Address or Status Changes: Failing to inform immigration authorities of changes in address or status can be seen as a violation.

  • Continuous Updates: Always update authorities on significant changes.

Using Different Addresses: Using different addresses for different official purposes can raise suspicions.

  • Consistency: Ensure consistency in addresses provided for all official purposes.

Not Maintaining Ties: Not having significant ties, like employment or family, in the sponsoring country can raise doubts about residency intentions.

  • Evidence of Ties: Provide evidence of continuous ties to the sponsoring country.

Navigating the complexities of spousal sponsorship applications can be challenging, but understanding the common reasons for refusal is the first step towards a successful application. By being proactive, transparent, and meticulous in your approach, you can significantly enhance the chances of a favorable outcome. Remember, every relationship and situation is unique, so tailor your application to reflect your genuine story and circumstances. Seeking expert advice or legal counsel can further guide you through the process, ensuring that you and your loved one are united without unnecessary delays.

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