Canada, recognized for its diverse society and accommodating regulations, has consistently been an appealing option for international migrants. Owing to its rich history, thriving economy, and extensive employment prospects, Canada is a preferred choice for many individuals. Specifically, for those who have established relationships with Canadian citizens, the country offers an advantageous combination of personal fulfillment and economic security. However, like all immigration routes, procuring Canadian permanent residency through spousal sponsorship encompasses numerous legal intricacies and administrative responsibilities. This guide has been written to explain the legal requirements, eligibility prerequisites, procedural steps, and potential hindrances, and to help alleviate your concerns. Continue reading to further your understanding and expedite the process of obtaining permanent residence in Canada.

Immigration laws in Canada, like those in any other country, are complex. They are designed to balance the country’s need for skilled workers and family reunification, with the necessity of ensuring national security and economic stability. A thorough understanding of these laws is important for those seeking permanent residency through marriage. Not only will it ease your application process, but it also helps you prepare for any potential challenges that may arise.

Immigration Laws and Policies in Canada

In Canada, immigration policies are largely governed by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (the “IRPA”). This act outlines the rights, responsibilities, and procedures related to immigration in the country. It is under this act that the spousal sponsorship program falls.

The Spousal Sponsorship Program in Canada allows Canadian citizens or permanent residents to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner for Canadian permanent residency. The government recognizes both opposite and same-sex marriages for immigration purposes. This broad-minded approach underscores the country’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

To sponsor a spouse, the sponsor must be at least 18 years old and demonstrate that they can financially support their spouse when they arrive in Canada. It is important to remember that sponsorship is a legally binding agreement where the sponsor agrees to provide for the basic needs of the sponsored spouse for three years.

Importance of Authentic Relationships in Immigration

The Canadian government is serious about tackling immigration fraud. It has rigorous procedures to ensure that all marriages and partnerships used for immigration purposes are genuine. The IRPA includes penalties for misrepresentation or fraudulent marriages.

Applicants must provide ample evidence to prove the authenticity of their relationship. This can include photographs together, communication records, joint bank statements, letters from friends and family, and more. In some cases, interviews may be conducted with the applicant and the sponsor to verify the relationship.

The emphasis on authentic relationships might seem rigorous. However, it is in place to protect the integrity of the immigration system and to prevent exploitation. As long as your relationship is genuine, this requirement should not pose a hurdle.

Eligibility Criteria

Understanding the eligibility criteria for permanent residency through marriage in Canada is the first step in the process. There are essential factors that both the sponsor and the person being sponsored must meet to be considered eligible for the Spousal Sponsorship Program.

Who Can Apply for Permanent Residency through Marriage?

The person being sponsored must be at least 18 years old and legally married to the sponsor or in a common-law relationship with the sponsor. In Canada, a common-law relationship is one where the couple has lived together continuously for at least one year. This relationship should be genuine and not primarily to gain immigration status in Canada.

For the sponsor, they must be at least 18 years old and a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. The sponsor must live in Canada unless they are a Canadian citizen currently living abroad and planning to live in Canada when the sponsored spouse becomes a permanent resident. The sponsor must also sign an agreement to financially support the spouse for three (3) years.

Key Factors Affecting Eligibility

Several key factors can affect eligibility for the Spousal Sponsorship Program. For example, the sponsor is not eligible if they receive social assistance for reasons other than a disability. Additionally, the sponsor cannot have defaulted on an immigration loan or a performance bond or have not complied with a previous sponsorship agreement.

History of or any criminal activity could also affect eligibility. The sponsor is not eligible if they have been convicted of certain crimes, including violent crimes, sexual offences, or offences against a relative that resulted in bodily harm. Similar criminal restrictions apply to the person being sponsored.

Eligibility CriteriaDetails
Age– Both the sponsor and the sponsored person must be at least 18 years old.
Sponsor’s Status– The sponsor must be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of Canada, or a person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act.
Residency– If the sponsor is a Canadian citizen living outside Canada, they must show that they plan to live in Canada when the sponsored persons become permanent residents.
– Permanent residents must live in Canada to sponsor.
Financial Ability– The sponsor must not have been convicted of violent crimes, sexual offences, or offenses against a relative causing bodily harm.
Social Assistance– The sponsor must not have been convicted of violent crimes, sexual offences, or offences against a relative causing bodily harm.
Previous Sponsorship Obligations– The sponsor must have fulfilled previous sponsorship obligations, including financial support and repaying any government social assistance received by the sponsored person.
Immigration Loan and Family Support– The sponsor must not have defaulted on an immigration loan, performance bond, or family support payments.
Criminal Record– The sponsor must not have been convicted of violent crimes, sexual offences, or offences against a relative causing bodily harm.
Removal Order– The sponsor must not be under a removal order.
Bankruptcy– The sponsor must not be undischarged bankrupt.
Health and Medical Conditions– The sponsored person must undergo a medical exam and be admissible on health grounds.
Relationship Authenticity– The relationship (marriage or common-law partnership) must be genuine and not primarily for immigration purposes.
Marital Status– The person being sponsored must be legally married to, or in a common-law relationship with, the sponsor.
Legal Capacity– Both parties must be legally free to marry; this means previous marriages must be legally terminated if applicable.
Dependent Children– Sponsors can include dependent children in their applications. Steps must be taken to meet specific requirements and to provide related documents.
This table only provides a summary of the eligibility criteria. For comprehensive legal advice or more detailed criteria, applicants should refer to the official Canadian immigration resources or consult an immigration professional.

The Step-by-Step Application Process

Once you have confirmed your eligibility, it is time to start the application process for the Spousal Sponsorship Program. The Spousal Sponsorship Program process can be broken down into three (3) key steps: (1) preparing your application, (2) submitting your application, and (3) what happens after submission. With careful preparation and attention to detail, you can successfully navigate the process towards obtaining Canadian permanent residency.

Preparing Your Application

The first step towards gaining permanent residency in Canada through marriage is to prepare your application meticulously. You must complete the necessary forms, gather all the required documents, and pay the appropriate application fees.

When filling out the application forms, provide accurate and complete information. Any inconsistencies or omissions could lead to your application being returned or refused.

As discussed above, your application package must also include supporting documents that prove your relationship is genuine. These may consist of photos, letters, financial documents, and more.

Including all necessary and required documents in your initial application is important, and missing documents can lead to delays. Always review the checklist provided by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (the “IRCC”) before submitting your application.

Submitting Your Application

Once your application package is complete, it’s time to submit it to IRCC. You can submit your application either online or by mail.

When submitting your application, keep copies of everything you send. Retaining copies of your documents is important in case anything gets lost in the mail or there is a dispute about what was included in your application.

What Happens After Submission?

After you have submitted your application, you will receive an Acknowledgement of Receipt (“AOR”) from the IRCC. An acknowledgement of receipt confirms that the IRCC has received your application and has begun processing it. The processing time can vary, but you can check the average processing times on the IRCC website.

You may be asked to submit additional documents or attend an interview, during the processing period. It is crucial to respond to these requests promptly to avoid delays in your application.

Once your application has been reviewed and approved, you and your spouse will receive Confirmation of Permanent Residence (“COPR”). 

Exploring Common Challenges

Like any immigration process, obtaining permanent residency in Canada through marriage comes with unique challenges. Knowing these issues ahead of time can help you better prepare and potentially avoid them.

Dealing with Application Denial

One of the most disheartening experiences can be having your application denied. Denial of your application can happen for various reasons, including an incomplete or inaccurate application, an inability to prove the genuineness of the relationship or ineligibility of the sponsor or the person being sponsored.

If your application is denied, do not despair. You have the right to appeal the decision within 30 days under a process called Judicial Review. The judicial review process can be complex, so it is recommended to seek legal advice to ensure your appeal is as strong as possible.

Navigating Relationship Changes

The immigration process can take time, and during that period, relationships can change. If the marriage breaks down during the application process, things can be complex. However, depending on the situation, it might still be possible to continue with the immigration process.

For instance, if there is proof of abuse or neglect, the sponsored person might still be granted permanent residency. Likewise, if the sponsor passes away during the process, IRCC will usually continue processing the application.

Sometimes, the complexities of the immigration process might require professional legal assistance. Knowing when to seek help and how to choose the right lawyer can make the difference between success and failure.

Although many people successfully navigate the immigration process on their own, there are situations where you might benefit from legal help. For instance, if your application has been denied, if you are facing deportation, or if your case involves complicated legal or medical issues.

If you are finding the process overwhelming and confusing, a lawyer can help clarify things and guide you through the process. Obtaining assistance from a lawyer can be particularly beneficial for people who are not fluent in English or French.

Choosing the Right Immigration Lawyer

Choosing the right immigration lawyer is a crucial step. Look for someone who specializes in immigration law and has experience with marriage-based permanent residency applications. Make sure to ask about their track record, fees, and communication style before deciding. 

Remember, a good lawyer should make you feel comfortable and confident. They should be able to explain the process in a way you understand and be responsive to your questions and concerns.

Pax Law team

Choosing the right lawyer can be a game-changer in your immigration journey. Take your time, do your research, and trust your instincts.Pax Law is a legal team ready to help you with your immigration process. Contact our team today!

Making the Most of Your New Life in Canada

Once you’ve achieved permanent residency, you and your spouse can begin your new life in Canada. However, this process may entail pursuing employment and suitable accommodations, along with integrating into Canadian societal norms and customs. 

Adjusting to Canadian Culture

Canada has a diverse and inclusive culture, but adjusting can still take time. Be prepared for a potential cultural shock, and don’t hesitate to seek help if you need it.

Learn about Canadian customs, social etiquette, and values. Engage with the community, participate in local events, and be open to new experiences. Canada’s multicultural fabric is a beautiful tapestry of cultures. 

Employment and Housing Considerations

Settling in Canada might involve finding a job and securing housing. The Canadian job market is competitive but offers diverse opportunities. Start your job search early, tailor your resume to the Canadian format, and tap into networking opportunities.

When it comes to housing, options vary from city to city. From renting to buying a home, you’ll need to consider your budget and lifestyle. Research neighbourhoods, understand your rights as a tenant or homeowner, and consider seeking advice from a real estate professional.

Embrace Your New Chapter 🍁

As you embark on this exciting new chapter in your life, remember that each journey is unique. There may be bumps along the road, but with determination, patience, and the right support, your dream of making Canada your new home can become a reality.

Embrace the challenges as part of your journey, learn from each experience, and make the most of the opportunities that Canada has to offer. Here’s to your new life in Canada — embrace your new chapter!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most common reasons for application denial?

The most common reasons for application denial include incomplete or inaccurate applications, inability to prove the genuineness of the relationship or ineligibility of the sponsor or the person being sponsored. Ensure that all the required documents are provided and filled accurately to increase your chances of success.

Can my application be affected if my spouse is not a Canadian citizen but a permanent resident?

Your application can still be processed if your spouse is a permanent resident and not a citizen, provided they are at least 18 years old and live in Canada.

How does the Canadian government verify the authenticity of the relationship?

The Canadian government verifies the authenticity of your relationship through various means, including supporting documents, interviews, and sometimes even site visits. It’s essential to provide as much proof of your genuine relationship as possible.

What is the average processing time for this type of application?

The average processing time can vary based on several factors, such as the volume of applications received and the complexity of your case. Check the IRCC website for the most recent estimates.

Can I include my children in my application?

Yes, you can include your dependent children in your application. However, you’ll need to meet certain requirements and provide additional documents.

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