Spousal Sponsorship Lawyers: A Comprehensive Guide

The spousal sponsorship program is a program under the Family Class immigration category that allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner to come to Canada as a permanent resident. The primary goal is to reunite families and ensure that partners can live together in Canada, contributing to the country’s social and economic fabric. Successful applicants gain permanent residency, granting them access to healthcare, education, and other benefits available to Canadian residents.

Should I Apply from Inside Canada or Outside Canada?

Deciding whether to apply for spousal sponsorship from inside or outside Canada depends on individual circumstances and the specific requirements of the sponsorship process:

  • Inland Sponsorship: This option is for couples who are both currently living in Canada. The sponsored spouse can apply for an open work permit while the sponsorship application is being processed, allowing them to work and remain in Canada. Inland sponsorship is suitable for those who do not plan to remain in Canada for the majority of the processing.

  • Outland Sponsorship: This option is for couples where the sponsored spouse is living outside Canada. It is processed through a visa office in the sponsored spouse’s home country or country of residence.

Who Can Be a Sponsor?

To sponsor a spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner, the sponsor must meet the following criteria:

  • Status: Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

  • Age: Be at least 18 years old.

  • Residency: Must reside in Canada or intend to return to Canada when the sponsored person becomes a permanent resident.

  • Financial Stability: While there is no strict financial requirement, sponsors must demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to support the spouse on a balance of probabilities, ensuring the spouse will not require social assistance.

  • No Criminal Record: Must not have a criminal record involving violent or sexual offenses.* there are additional elements related to criminality

  • No Default on Previous Sponsorships: Must not have defaulted on a previous sponsorship agreement, especially if the sponsored person availed themselves of social assistance during the undertaking period and the debt has not been repaid. Additionally, sponsors must not have any outstanding immigration loans.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), also known as Citizenship Canada, plays a crucial role in overseeing and processing sponsorship applications.

Who Can Be Sponsored?

The individuals eligible to be sponsored as a spouse or partner include:

  • Spouse: Legally married to the sponsor.

  • Common-law Partner: Lived with the sponsor in a conjugal relationship for at least 12 consecutive months.

  • Conjugal Partner: Has been in a conjugal relationship with the sponsor for at least one year but is unable to live with them due to barriers such as immigration restrictions, marital status, or sexual orientation.

Is There a Financial Requirement for Spousal Sponsorship?

There is no strict financial threshold that sponsors must meet. However, sponsors must demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to support their spouse on a balance of probabilities, ensuring that the spouse will not require social assistance upon arrival in Canada. Additionally, sponsors must not have defaulted on previous sponsorships or have any outstanding immigration loans. Sponsors should also be aware of the sponsorship fee and any additional charges, which can vary depending on factors such as dependent children and specific provinces like Quebec.

What Documents Would Prove I Am in a bona-fide Relationship?

To prove the genuineness of your relationship, you should provide various forms of evidence, including but not limited to:

  • Marriage Certificate: If you are legally married.

  • Proof of Cohabitation: Documents showing shared residence, such as lease agreements, utility bills, or joint bank statements.

  • Photographs: Photos of you and your spouse together at different times and places, including with family and friends.

  • Communication Records: Copies of emails, text messages, phone call logs, and letters exchanged between you and your spouse.

  • Travel Records: Tickets, boarding passes, and travel itineraries showing visits to each other.

  • Affidavits: Statements from friends and family attesting to the genuineness of your relationship.

  • Financial Support: Evidence of financial support, such as money transfers or joint financial accounts.

  • Family Members: Documentation should also include information about dependent children and other family members to support the transition to life in Canada.

What If I Do Not Have Lots of Photos of Our Relationship?

If you do not have many photos of your relationship, provide other forms of evidence to prove the genuineness of your relationship. This can include:

  • Communication Records: Emails, chat logs, and phone call records.

  • Joint Financial Documents: Bank statements showing joint accounts or transactions.

  • Affidavits: Letters from friends and family attesting to your relationship.

  • Travel Records: Documentation of trips taken together or visits to each other.

  • Proof of Cohabitation: Lease agreements, utility bills, or other documents showing you live together.

Additionally, if applicable, include evidence for a dependent child to ensure all relevant family members are accounted for.

Can I Be in a Common Law Relationship If I Am Still Married?

Yes, you can be in a common-law relationship even if you are still legally married to someone else, provided you have lived with your common-law partner in a conjugal relationship for at least 12 consecutive months. It is essential to prove that you and your common-law partner have a committed and genuine relationship, similar to that of a marriage.

What Can Complicate My Spousal Application?

Several factors can complicate the spousal sponsorship process:

  • Incomplete or Inaccurate Documentation: Missing or incorrect information can delay or jeopardize your application.

  • Lack of Proof of Relationship: Inadequate evidence of a genuine relationship can lead to refusal.

  • Criminal Record: A criminal record, particularly involving violence or sexual offenses, can disqualify the sponsor.

  • Previous Immigration Issues: Past violations of immigration laws can affect the application.

  • Unpaid Immigration Loans: Outstanding immigration loans or defaulting on previous sponsorship undertakings can prevent you from sponsoring your spouse.

Can My Spouse Apply for a Work Permit If We Have Submitted Our Spousal Application?

Yes, after you submit your spousal sponsorship application and are in Canada, your spouse can apply for an open work permit. This type of work permit allows your spouse to work for any employer in Canada while the spousal sponsorship application is being processed. The open work permit is particularly beneficial as it helps the sponsored spouse to become economically active and support the family financially during the waiting period.

To apply for the open work permit, your spouse must have the Acknowledgement of Receipt from the spousal application.

Can My Spouse Apply for a Visitor Visa After We Have Submitted Our Spousal Application?

Yes, your spouse can apply for a visitor visa after submitting a spousal sponsorship application, whether it’s an inland or outland application. Applying for a visitor visa can be a practical option if your spouse wishes to visit Canada during the processing of the sponsorship application. However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Dual Intent: Canadian immigration recognizes the concept of “dual intent,” where a person can have both temporary and permanent intents. This means your spouse can intend to visit Canada temporarily while also having an ongoing application for permanent residence.

  2. Evidence of Temporary Stay: When applying for a visitor visa, your spouse must convincingly demonstrate that their visit to Canada is temporary. They should provide evidence of ties to their home country, such as employment, property, financial commitments, or family, which indicate that they will return home after their visit.

  3. Disclosure of Sponsorship Application: It’s important that your spouse discloses the ongoing spousal sponsorship application when applying for the visitor visa. Transparency with Canadian immigration authorities is crucial and failing to disclose the spousal sponsorship could be seen as misrepresentation.

  4. Approval is Not Guaranteed: The approval of a visitor visa is at the discretion of the immigration officer reviewing the application. The officer will assess whether your spouse’s intentions align with the requirements of a temporary visitor and whether they are likely to leave Canada at the end of their visit. While in May 2023, the Minister of Immigration advised that they will be approving a record high 90% of spousal applicants with faster processing times, the applicant must still confirm their visitor visa bona-fides.

Having a pending permanent residence application can impact the visitor visa process, as Canadian immigration authorities will consider the implications for a Canadian permanent resident.

Why Should I Hire AKM Law as My Immigration Lawyer for My Spousal Sponsorship Application?

Hiring AKM Law for your spousal sponsorship application ensures you receive expert guidance and personalized service from experienced immigration professionals. AKM Law has extensive experience handling spousal sponsorship cases, deeply understanding Canadian immigration laws and regulations. They provide meticulous documentation preparation, minimizing the risk of errors that could delay or jeopardize your application. In the event of a refusal, AKM Law offers robust legal representation for appeals and reapplications, significantly increasing your chances of a successful outcome. By entrusting AKM Law with your application, you can focus on your family, knowing that your case is in capable hands, thereby reducing the stress and complexities associated with the immigration process.

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