One of the most popular streams of Canadian immigration, family sponsorship programs make it easy for citizens and permanent residents to bring their spouse and immediate family members to Canada with reduced processing times, because Canada knows that family should never be put on hold.
In a perfect world, spouses would not be kept apart by living in separate countries as their sponsorship application is being processed, but this is an unfortunate reality for many couples who are navigating the Canadian immigration process.
The spousal sponsorship stream of the family sponsorship program allows a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner for Canadian permanent residence, regardless of where they are currently living. As part of Canada’s commitment to reuniting families as quickly as possible, most applications are processed within a 12-month period. While this program was designed for sponsored individuals living abroad, applicants residing in Canada may also choose to apply for outland spousal sponsorship, as it may enable them to travel in and out of Canada while their application is being processed.
Spousal sponsorship applications have eligibility requirements for both the Canadian sponsor and the individual being sponsored. Those wishing to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner must:
Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident living in Canada
Be at least 18 years of age
Not have received spousal sponsorship to Canada in the five years preceding their application
Not be in prison, charged with a serious offense, or bankrupt
Not be under deportation order, if they are a Canadian permanent resident
If the sponsor lives in the province of Quebec, they may need to meet additional requirements. Unlike under inland spousal sponsorship, the sponsored individual is not required to hold valid temporary status in Canada for outland spousal sponsorship applications, as long as the sponsored partner is not living in Canada. They must also be at least 18 years of age and cannot be a close blood relative of the sponsor. The relationship between sponsor and person being sponsored must be either a legal marriage, or a common-law or conjugal partnership, as recognized by CICC.
Spouse or Common-Law Partner Sponsorships
Take advantage of an accelerated 12-month processing period by sponsoring your spouse or common-law partner for Canadian permanent residence, whether they are living in Canada with a valid, temporary visa, or residing abroad. Applicants who are living in Canada may also qualify for an open work permit, giving couples the chance to relieve some of their financial burdens.
A spousal open work permit gives sponsored individuals the ability to work in Canada while their sponsorship application is being processed. Since Canada recognizes common-law partnerships, you may be eligible to apply for spousal sponsorship if you and your partner are not married but have been living together for a period of at least one year.
If you are immigrating to Canada, you can choose to include your children as accompanying dependents on your application for permanent residence. However, if you choose not to include them, or are otherwise unable to do so, they may still be able to join you in Canada later. Canada’s child sponsorship program allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their biological or adopted children under the age of 22 for permanent residence, as long as they are unmarried and have no children of their own.
Canada's commitment to family reunification extends to parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents through the parent and grandparent sponsorship program. In order to sponsor a parent or grandparent, citizens and permanent residents will be required to demonstrate that they can financially support their family by meeting the Minimum Necessary Income (MNI) for the size of their family unit. They must also agree to financially support their sponsored family members, if needed. Sponsors who are unable to permanently support their parent or grandparent may be eligible for a Super Visa, a long-term, multiple-entry visa for parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents.