If you are a Canadian citizen or Canadian permanent resident, you will be eligible to sponsor your spouse under certain conditions, such as:

  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • Must be legally married
  • Demonstrate that your marriage is genuine – this is one of the most important factors (details below)
  • Must not be receiving social assistance, other than disability
  • Demonstrate sufficient income and/or funds to provide for your family, including your spouse and accompanying children. Generally, 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

For many, this is the only route available to bring their spouse to Canada and obtain permanent residency. The good news is that the requirements for the applicant is much lower than other routes to permanent residency, such as Express Entry. If your spouse has children, they can be included in the sponsorship application. The sponsored spouse is referred to as the “Applicant”

Inland vs. Outland Spousal Sponsorship

There are two (2) types of applications available if you are sponsoring your spouse, depending on whether the applicant is residing outside Canada or inside Canada. Both applications have their advantages and disadvantages, depending upon your circumstance. Spousal sponsorship applications are paper-based and cannot be submitted online.

Inland Common Law Sponsorship

If you are residing inside Canada under a temporary resident status such as visitor, worker, or student, you may apply under the Inland Spousal Sponsorship route.

The main advantage in applying from inside Canada is that you will qualify for an open work permit. This will allow you the opportunity to work for any employer while your spousal sponsorship application is being processed. You may submit the work permit application together with your spousal 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 spousal sponsorship inside Canada include:

  • If your temporary resident status is expiring, you will maintain implied status until a decision is rendered, so long as you submit the spousal sponsorship application before your temporary resident status expires
  • Application processing times from inside Canada are generally faster since the application remains inside Canada
  • Applicants residing inside Canada have the option to use the Outland Spousal Sponsorship application

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

Disadvantages of using the Inland Spousal Sponsorship application include:

  • You 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. This will result in your application being refused and thus you must restart the entire process from outside Canada.
  • You must be living together with your spouse for the duration of the application process
  • There is no opportunity to appeal the decision to the Immigration Appeal Division. The only option would be to apply for judicial review in Federal court, which can be a lengthy and expensive process.

Outland Common Law Sponsorship

The main advantage of using the Outland Spousal Sponsorship application is that you will be able to exit and enter the country 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 spouse in Canada.

Other advantages in applying for spousal sponsorship outside Canada include:

  • If you have submitted your application and are denied entry into Canada, your application will not be affected
  • You are not required to reside together with your spouse
  • If your spousal sponsorship application is refused, you have the option to appeal the decision to the Immigration Appeal Division

Disadvantages of using the Inland Spousal Sponsorship application include:

  • You are not eligible to apply for an open work permit
  • If you are inside Canada, you must maintain your temporary residence status. Unlike Inland Spousal applications, you will not be given implied status.
  • 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 Immigration Canada assumes you are outside Canada, the interview location may be scheduled in your country of citizenship or current country of residence.
  • 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 and marriage are genuine is a pivotal aspect of spousal sponsorship applications.

Couples must demonstrate to the immigration officer that you are a loving, committed couple and did not enter the relationship to obtain permanent residency status in Canada. Immigration officers will assess this component through reviewing your documents and through an interview process.

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 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.


First and foremost, you should provide photos of your wedding ceremony, whether it was big or small. Failure to provide photo evidence of your wedding will raise a red flag to the immigration officer. You should also provide quality photos of you and your spouse during any trips taken together, family events and/or intimate moments that reflect an honest relationship.

Joint Documents

If you and your spouse are living together, it is important to provide documents showing both names with the same address. Joint documents such as utility bills and lease agreements will also add to the genuineness 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: Gather Your 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 results in an automatic 5-year ban.

Step 4: Application Fees

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

  • Sponsorship Fee $550CAD
  • Right of Permanent Residence Fee $500CAD
  • Include a dependent child with your spouse $150CAD per child
  • Biometrics $85CAD per person (over 18 years of age)

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 Spousal Sponsorship, your application will be submitted to the visa office in Mississauga, Ontario.

If you are applying for Outland Spousal 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 Paola and Gonzalo meet 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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