Sponsor your partner and start your life together in Canada

Can I Sponsor my Common-law Partner?

If you are a Canadian citizen or Canadian permanent resident, you are eligible to sponsor your common law partner under certain conditions:

  • You both must be 18 years of age or older.
  • You must demonstrate that you have been living together with your partner for 12 months consecutively.
  • Must not be receiving government social assistance, other than disability;
  • Demonstrate sufficient income and/or funds to provide for your yourself, your partner and any accompanying children. There is no income requirement, so it is important to assess your situation carefully to determine if you can satisfy the requirement for financial support.
  • If you were previously sponsored by a relative, you must wait 5 years from the date you obtained permanent resident to be eligible to sponsor.

Who may not be eligible to sponsor?

  • You have been previously sponsored in the last 5 years or less
  • You have outstanding child/spousal support orders
  • You have a criminal conviction (inside Canada or outside Canada)

How to Apply

There are two (2) types of applications available if you are sponsoring your partner, depending on whether the applicant is residing outside Canada or inside Canada.
Common law sponsorship applications are always paper-based and cannot be submitted online.

Inland Common Law Sponsorship

If you are inside Canada as a visitor, worker, or student, you may apply under the Inland Common Law Sponsorship route.

The main advantage is that the sponsored person (Applicant) qualifies for an open work permit. This will allow them the opportunity to work for any employer while the sponsorship application is being processed. The work permit application is submitted together with the sponsorship application.

If approved, the open work permit will be issued to the applicant halfway through the application processing time (approx. 6 months), so you do not have to wait the entire processing period.

Other advantages in applying for common law sponsorship inside Canada include:

Implied Status

If your temporary resident status is expiring, so long as you submit your sponsorship application before the deadline, your legal status will not be affected. This is called implied status. Until you receive a decision on the sponsorship application, you will not lose your status in Canada.

Faster Processing Time

Processing times from inside Canada are quicker since the application remains inside Canada.

Apply from Inside or Outside Canada

Applicants residing inside Canada have the option to use the Outland Common Law Sponsorship application and take advantage of the benefits

TIP: if you are residing inside Canada and are out of status, you may be eligible to be sponsored. However, without valid status, you do not qualify for an open work permit.

Disadvantages of using the Inland Common Law Sponsorship application include:

Must Be Living with your Partner

You must be living together with your partner for the duration of the application process

Must Remain Inside Canada

Applicants will not be allowed to exit Canada while the sponsorship application is being processed. If you exit Canada and attempt to re-enter, the officer may refuse your entry. If you are refused, you will not be living with your partner, as required. This could jeopardize your entire application and make you restart again from outside Canada.

No Option to Appeal to Immigration Appeal Division (IAD)

The only option to appeal is through judicial review at the Federal court level. This can be a lengthy and expensive process.

The only option to appeal is through judicial review at the Federal court level. This can be a lengthy and expensive process.

Outland Common Law Sponsorship

This type of application can be used whether you are inside or outside Canada.

The main advantage is that you will be able to exit and enter Canada while the application is being processed. For applicants who have commitments abroad such as family or employment, they are free to attend to their commitments, while also having the option to remain with their partner in Canada.

Other advantages in applying for common law sponsorship outside Canada include:

Denied Entry into Canada? Application Not Affected

If you have submitted your application and are denied entry into Canada, your application will not be affected

Not Requited to Live Together

You are not required to reside together with your partner

Better Appeal Routes

If your common law sponsorship application is refused, you have the option to appeal the decision to the Immigration Appeal Division

Disadvantages of using the Inland Common Law Sponsorship application include:

No Open Work Permit

You are not eligible to apply for an open work permit

No Implied Status

If you are inside Canada, you must maintain your temporary residence status. Unlike Inland Common Law applications, you will not be given implied status.

Interview Location Outside or Inside Canada

While your application is being processing, you may be requested to attend an interview by an immigration offer to verify certain components of the application. Since IRCC assumes you are outside Canada, the interview location may be scheduled in your country of citizenship or current country of residence.

Slower Processing Time

Processing times are generally longer since the application may be transferred and processed through the visa office in your country of origin or country of residence

Genuineness of Relationship

Demonstrating that your relationship is genuine is a pivotal aspect of common law sponsorship applications.

What is a genuine relationship?

Couples must demonstrate that you are a loving, committed couple and did not enter the relationship solely to obtain permanent resident status in Canada. Immigration officers will examine your supporting documents and may call you for an interview. Immigration officers look very carefully for signs of immigration fraud through phony relationships, so applicants must take this component seriously.

Short Term Relationships

If you have been in a short-length relationship and/or were married shortly prior to submitting your application, the genuineness of your relationship must be very strong and convincing.

How Can You Demonstrate Genuineness?

Depending on the length and nature of your relationship, examples of evidence supporting a genuine relationship include:

Communication between you and your partner (phone records, text messages, emails, love letters, etc.)

There is a limit to the amount of communication you may submit in support of your application. As such, you should select the most honest and sincere communications throughout the length of your relationship. Ideally, the communications should not be all recent but taken throughout the length of your relationship.


Without photos from a formal wedding ceremony, you may instead provide quality photos of you and your partner during trips taken together, family events and/or intimate moments that reflect an honest relationship. If there was any civil ceremony or occasion, photographs of such is a must.

Joint Documents

If you and your partner are living together, it is important to provide documents with both your names and/or with the same address. Joint documents include utility bills, drivers licences, bank statements, and rental agreements.

Personal Statements and Reference Letters

A personal statement from both partners in the relationship is very important. It should include details from when you first met, and any memorable moments thereafter.

This should be supplemented by reference letters from family, friends, co-workers, or anyone who may have knowledge of the relationship

Application Process

Step 1: Eligibility

Before starting, you must determine if you are eligible to sponsor and your partner is eligible to be sponsored.

Step 2: Documents

Once you determined that you meet the eligibility requirements, the next step is to gather your documents. There are mandatory documents which must be provided, such as marriage certificate, police clearance(s), birth certificate(s) and genuineness documents.

IRCC provides applicants with a document checklist, listing the required documentation for the application. However, just because you provide the required documents does not guarantee an approval. Every case is unique and must be individually assessed to determine the potential areas of weakness; and to properly address those areas of weakness to give you the best chances of success.

Step 3: Application Forms

There are several application forms to complete with this application. It is important that these application forms be fully complete with accurate and truthful information.

Any missing information or discrepancy in the forms may be returned and deemed “incomplete” or may lead to a refusal. If there is a suspicion of untruthfulness or intention to mislead the immigration officer, you may be charged with misrepresentation, which may result in an automatic 5-year ban in future applications, or at worst, removal (deportation) proceedings.

Step 4: Application Fees

Before submitting your application, you must pay the application fees associated with your sponsorship application.
The application fees online and include the application fee receipt with your application.

Step 5: Submit Application

Whether you are submitting your application by mail or courier, it is important to list the correct location for processing.

If you are applying for Inland Common Law Sponsorship, your application will be submitted to the visa office in Mississauga, Ontario.

If you are applying for Outland Common Law Sponsorship, your application will be submitted to the visa office in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Step 6: After you Submit

Once the application is submitted, the application will go through a two-phase process.

The first phase is called the completeness check. The immigration officer will verify that all required forms and documents were properly submitted and that the fees were paid. If you failed to provide any of the above-mentioned items, then the application will be returned.

The second phase is called eligibility review. The reviewing officer will assess and provide a letter determining whether the partner meets the sponsorship requirements. At this stage, the reviewing officer may request further supporting documentation if any clarification is needed before he/she makes a final determination.

How We Can Help

At EXITUS IMMIGRATION SERVICES , our representatives are highly experienced with Common Law Sponsorship and can guide you through each step of the process. Our representatives understand all the ins and out of sponsorships applications and can help you get into the mind of an immigration officer to ensure you compile a complete, strong and convicting application to give you the best chances of success.

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