Tips for a Successful Spousal Sponsorship Canada Application
Before beginning your spousal sponsorship application, it is essential to understand the different stages of the process. Familiarize yourself with the eligibility criteria, application forms, and required documents. Review our article on the different stages of a spousal sponsorship application in Canada for a comprehensive overview.
Understanding the Eligibility Criteria
When considering spousal sponsorship in Canada, the first and foremost step is understanding the eligibility criteria. This ensures that both the sponsor and the sponsored person meet the necessary requirements set by the Canadian government.
Must be at least 18 years old.
Must be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident, or a registered Indian under the Canadian Indian Act.
Must be living in Canada if they are a permanent resident. Canadian citizens can sponsor their spouse from abroad but must prove their intention to live in Canada once the sponsored spouse becomes a permanent resident.
Must not be receiving social assistance for reasons other than a disability.
Must be able to prove that they can provide the basic needs for their spouse.
Sponsored Person's Eligibility:
Must be at least 18 years old.
Must be either legally married to the sponsor or in a common-law relationship for at least one year.
Must undergo a medical examination and obtain a medical report.
Must provide police certificates from every country they have lived in for more than six months since turning 18.
Exclusions: There are certain conditions under which a person cannot sponsor their spouse:
If they were sponsored to Canada as a spouse within the last five years.
If they have a record of not providing financial support to a previously sponsored spouse.
If they have defaulted on an immigration loan or other financial obligations.
Duration of Obligation: The sponsor has a responsibility to provide financial support for the sponsored spouse for three years from the date they become a permanent resident.
Documents Required: Proper documentation is crucial for a successful application. This includes:
Marriage certificate (for married couples).
Proof of genuine relationship (photos, communication records, joint bank accounts, etc.).
Financial documents of the sponsor.
Medical examination report and police certificates for the sponsored person.
Complete the application package available on the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.
Pay the processing fee.
Submit the application and wait for a decision. The processing time can vary.
Interview: In some cases, couples may be called for an interview. It's essential to be honest and consistent in your answers.
Potential Challenges: Some challenges that couples might face include:
Proving the genuineness of the relationship.
Ensuring all documents are up-to-date and correctly filled.
Meeting the financial requirements.
Appealing a Refusal: If your application is refused, there is an option to appeal the decision. It's advisable to consult with an immigration lawyer in such cases.
Post-Approval: Once approved, the sponsored person will receive a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and a permanent resident visa (if they are outside Canada). They must then travel to Canada before the visa expires.
Demonstrating a Genuine Relationship
One of the most critical aspects of a spousal sponsorship application is proving that the relationship between the sponsor and the sponsored person is genuine and not just for immigration purposes.
History of the Relationship:
Detail how you met, the progression of your relationship, and any significant milestones.
Include dates, events, and any other relevant details.
Evidence of Communication:
Provide records of phone calls, text messages, emails, and social media interactions.
Highlight consistent and regular communication over time.
Include photos from various events, trips, and everyday life.
Ensure photos have dates and descriptions.
Highlight vacations, trips, or other activities you've done together.
Provide tickets, reservations, or other proofs of joint activities.
Testimonies from Friends and Family:
Letters from friends and family can vouch for the genuineness of your relationship.
Ensure these letters are detailed and provide specific examples.
Joint Financial Documents:
Joint bank accounts, shared leases, or mortgages can be strong evidence.
Highlight any financial responsibilities you've shared.
If you've lived together, provide proof like utility bills, leases, or mail addressed to both of you at the same address.
Cultural and Social Integration:
If the sponsored person has integrated into the sponsor's culture or vice versa, provide evidence.
This can include participation in cultural events, learning the language, or joining community groups.
Challenges Faced as a Couple:
Detail any significant challenges you've faced and overcome together.
This can demonstrate the depth and strength of your relationship.
Consistency in Application:
Ensure that all details provided in the application are consistent.
Any discrepancies can raise doubts about the genuineness of the relationship.
Financial Requirements and Obligations for a Successful Spousal Sponsorship Canada Application
Ensuring that the sponsor meets the financial requirements is crucial for a successful spousal sponsorship application. The Canadian government wants to ensure that the sponsored spouse will not become a financial burden on the state.
No Minimum Income Requirement:
Unlike other sponsorship programs, there is no strict minimum income requirement for spousal sponsorship. However, the sponsor must prove they can provide basic needs for their spouse.
Proof of Financial Stability:
Bank statements, pay stubs, employment letters, and tax documents can serve as evidence of the sponsor's financial stability.
Duration of Financial Obligation:
The sponsor is financially responsible for the sponsored spouse for three years from the date they become a permanent resident.
Exclusions from Sponsoring:
If the sponsor is receiving social assistance for reasons other than a disability, they cannot sponsor.
If the sponsor has defaulted on an immigration loan, court-ordered family support payments, or other financial obligations, they may be ineligible to sponsor.
Financial Support Agreement:
The sponsor must sign an agreement that confirms their commitment to support the sponsored spouse for the required duration.
Debts to the Canadian Government:
If the sponsor owes any unpaid debts to the Canadian government, they must settle these before sponsoring.
If the sponsor is currently bankrupt, they cannot sponsor until they are officially discharged from bankruptcy.
Supporting Previous Sponsored Persons:
If the sponsor has previously sponsored someone and did not meet the financial obligations, they might be barred from sponsoring again.
Financial Evaluation Form:
In cases where the sponsor is also sponsoring dependent children with the spouse, a financial evaluation form may be required to ensure the sponsor can support the additional dependents.
Seeking Legal Advice:
If there are complexities in the sponsor's financial situation, it might be beneficial to seek advice from an immigration lawyer or consultant.
Medical Examinations and Police Certificates
Ensuring the health and security of Canadians is paramount. Hence, the sponsored person must undergo medical examinations and provide police certificates.
The sponsored person must undergo a medical examination by a panel physician approved by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Validity of Medical Examination:
The medical examination is typically valid for 12 months. The sponsored person must arrive in Canada as a permanent resident before the examination expires.
If the sponsored person has a condition that might pose a danger to public health or safety, or if they might cause excessive demand on health or social services in Canada, they might be deemed medically inadmissible.
The sponsored person must provide police certificates from every country they have lived in for more than six months since turning 18.
Validity of Police Certificates:
Police certificates are typically valid for six months from the date of issue. However, Canadian immigration officers might request a new certificate if they believe the current one might no longer reflect the sponsored person's criminal record.
If the sponsored person has committed a crime, they might be inadmissible to Canada. This includes both minor and serious crimes.
Overcoming Criminal Inadmissibility:
In some cases, the sponsored person can apply for rehabilitation or a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) to overcome their inadmissibility.
It's essential to disclose any medical or criminal history fully. Failure to do so can lead to a refusal of the application or even a ban from applying again for misrepresentation.
Seeking Legal Advice:
If there are concerns about medical or criminal inadmissibility, it's advisable to seek advice from an immigration lawyer or consultant.
If there are any changes in the sponsored person's health or criminal record during the application process, these must be immediately reported to IRCC.
Preparing a Comprehensive Application Package
A well-prepared application package is the cornerstone of a successful spousal sponsorship Canada application. It's essential to ensure that all documents are accurate, up-to-date, and presented in a clear and organized manner.
Ensure all required forms are filled out completely and accurately. Double-check for any missed sections or errors.
Gather all necessary supporting documents, such as marriage certificates, proof of relationship, financial documents, medical examination reports, and police certificates.
Use the checklist provided by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to ensure all required documents are included.
If any documents are not in English or French, they must be translated. Ensure that you also provide the original document and a certified translation.
Include the required number of photos, adhering to the specifications provided by IRCC. Ensure they are recent and clearly show the faces of the sponsor and the sponsored person.
Organize the application package in a logical order, using tabs or dividers for different sections. This makes it easier for the reviewing officer to navigate through your application.
Consider including a cover letter that summarizes the application and highlights the key points of your relationship and eligibility.
Ensure that the correct processing fee is paid. Keep a copy of the payment receipt to include in the application package.
Copies vs. Originals:
Typically, photocopies of documents are acceptable. However, always check the specific requirements. If originals are requested, ensure you have copies for your records.
Once the application package is complete, submit it to the appropriate address provided by IRCC. Consider using a tracked mailing service to confirm its delivery.
Addressing Potential Issues and Concerns
Every spousal sponsorship application is unique, and some might have issues or concerns that need to be addressed proactively to increase the chances of approval.
Previous Immigration Issues:
If either the sponsor or the sponsored person has had previous immigration refusals or issues, it's essential to address these in the application and provide explanations.
Short Relationship Duration:
If the relationship is relatively new, provide ample evidence to prove its genuineness. Highlight any shared experiences, challenges overcome, and future plans.
Significant age differences might raise questions. Address this by explaining the foundation and progression of your relationship.
Cultural or Religious Differences:
Highlight how you've embraced each other's cultures or religions and how these differences have been integrated into your relationship.
If there's a significant language barrier between the couple, explain how you communicate and understand each other.
Previous Marriages or Relationships:
If either party has been previously married or in significant relationships, provide details and reasons for the end of those relationships.
Children from Previous Relationships:
Detail the arrangements for any children from previous relationships and how they've been integrated into the current relationship.
Long Periods of Separation:
If the couple has spent long periods apart, explain the reasons and provide evidence of how the relationship was maintained during these times.
Seeking Legal Advice:
If there are significant concerns or complexities in your application, consider consulting with an immigration lawyer or consultant.
Honesty and Transparency:
Always be honest and transparent in addressing any issues. Misrepresentation can lead to severe consequences, including bans from reapplying.
Post-Submission: What to Expect
After submitting the spousal sponsorship application, understanding the subsequent steps and what to expect can help manage anxieties and ensure that you're prepared for any additional requirements.
Acknowledgment of Receipt:
Once your application is received by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), you'll typically receive an acknowledgment of receipt. This confirms that they have your application in their system.
An immigration officer will review your application for completeness. If anything is missing or unclear, they might return the entire package or request additional information.
The sponsored person may be required to provide biometrics (fingerprints and photo). If so, they'll receive an instruction letter on how and where to give their biometrics.
Some applicants may be asked to attend an interview at their local visa office. If so, you'll receive details about the date, time, and location.
Medical Examination Update:
If the medical examination results expire before the application is processed, the sponsored person might need to undergo another examination.
Additional Document Requests:
During the review, the immigration officer might request additional documents or clarifications. Respond promptly and provide the requested information.
Once the review is complete, a decision will be made. You'll receive communication about this decision.
Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR):
If approved, the sponsored person will receive a COPR and, if applicable, a permanent resident visa. They must travel to Canada before the visa expires.
Landing in Canada:
Upon arrival in Canada, the sponsored person will meet with an immigration officer to finalize the process. They should carry all relevant documents, including the COPR.
After becoming a permanent resident, it's essential to be aware of the rights and responsibilities that come with this status. This includes the obligation of the sponsor to support the sponsored person for three years.
Refusals and Appeals
Not all spousal sponsorship applications are approved. If faced with a refusal, understanding the reasons and the next steps is crucial.
Reasons for Refusal:
The refusal letter will detail the reasons for the decision. Common reasons include doubts about the genuineness of the relationship, missing documents, or inadmissibility due to health or criminality.
If the application was refused due to missing or incorrect documents, you might consider reapplying with a more comprehensive application package.
Appealing the Decision:
Sponsors have the right to appeal the refusal to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) within 30 days of receiving the decision.
Preparing for the Appeal:
Gather all relevant documents and evidence that address the reasons for refusal. Consider seeking legal representation to guide you through the appeal process.
During the appeal process, a hearing might be scheduled where the sponsor can present their case. The IAD will then make a decision.
The IAD can either agree with the original decision, disagree and approve the sponsorship, or send the application back for re-evaluation.
If the appeal is unsuccessful, consider other immigration pathways for the sponsored person, such as applying as a skilled worker or through provincial nominee programs.
Seeking Legal Advice:
Navigating refusals and appeals can be complex. Consulting with an immigration lawyer or consultant can provide clarity and increase the chances of a successful outcome.
The appeal process can be lengthy, sometimes taking up to a year or more. It's essential to be patient and stay informed about the status of your appeal.
Always be honest and transparent, even if faced with a refusal. Misrepresentation can lead to more severe consequences, including bans from reapplying.
Role of Immigration Consultants and Lawyers
Navigating the spousal sponsorship process can be daunting. Many applicants turn to professionals like immigration consultants and lawyers to guide them. Understanding their roles and how they can assist is crucial.
Difference Between Consultants and Lawyers:
Immigration Consultants: Typically specialize in immigration processes and are regulated by the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants. Ensure to verify that your consultant is licensed.
Immigration Lawyers: Are legal professionals who can represent clients in court and provide legal advice. They are members of a provincial or territorial law society.
Assessment of Eligibility:
Professionals can assess your case, determine your eligibility, and advise on the best approach for a successful application.
They can assist in gathering and preparing all necessary documents, ensuring they meet the requirements set by IRCC.
Before submission, a thorough review of the application can be done to catch any errors or omissions.
In case of complications, refusals, or appeals, an immigration lawyer can represent you, providing legal advice and presenting your case.
Immigration rules and procedures can change. Professionals stay updated on these changes, ensuring your application aligns with the latest requirements.
Communication with IRCC:
They can communicate on your behalf with IRCC, handling any queries or additional document requests.
While hiring a professional comes with a cost, it can be a worthwhile investment to increase the chances of a successful application. Always get a clear breakdown of fees before committing.
Choosing the Right Professional:
Research potential consultants or lawyers, read reviews, and perhaps seek recommendations. Ensure they are licensed and in good standing with their regulatory body.
Peace of Mind:
Perhaps the most significant benefit is the peace of mind knowing that a professional is guiding you through the complex process, reducing the chances of mistakes and oversights.
Maintaining Status While Waiting
For couples who wish for the sponsored person to stay in Canada while the application is being processed, understanding how to maintain legal status is essential.
The sponsored person can enter Canada as a visitor. However, they must convince the immigration officer that they will leave Canada if the sponsorship is not approved.
Extension of Visitor Status:
If the sponsored person is already in Canada and their visitor status is expiring, they can apply for an extension to remain in the country.
In some cases, the sponsored person might be eligible for an open work permit, allowing them to work in Canada while waiting for the sponsorship decision.
Study in Canada:
The sponsored person can apply for a study permit to pursue education in Canada. This can also be a way to maintain legal status.
Implications of Overstaying:
It's crucial to maintain legal status. Overstaying can lead to removal orders and can negatively impact the spousal sponsorship application.
If applying inland (with the sponsored person in Canada), it's essential to maintain legal status throughout the processing time. Outland applications (processed while the sponsored person is outside Canada) have different considerations.
Leaving and Re-entering Canada:
If the sponsored person leaves Canada during the processing of an inland application, they might not be allowed back in. This can complicate the application process.
Healthcare and Social Benefits:
Depending on the province and the status of the sponsored person, they might be eligible for provincial healthcare and other social benefits while waiting.
Ensure you keep lines of communication open with IRCC. Inform them of any changes in your situation, such as address changes.
Seeking Legal Advice:
If unsure about how to maintain legal status or navigate complexities, consider consulting with an immigration lawyer or consultant.