If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and are married or in a relationship with a foreign national, you may sponsor that person to join you in Canada and become a permanent resident, as long as you meet certain eligibility criteria.
In order to sponsor your spouse or partner, you must:
- At least 18 years of age
- Be a Canadian permanent resident living in Canada or a Canadian citizen
- Not be in prison, bankrupt, under a removal order (if a permanent resident) or charged with a serious offence; and
- Not have been sponsored to Canada as a spouse within the last 5 years
In addition, the sponsored person must be at least 16 years of age and not be too closely related by blood to the sponsor.
The sponsor and the sponsored person must also prove their relationship, which must fall under one of three categories:
- Spouse: the sponsored person and sponsor are legally married. If the marriage took place within Canada, a Certificate of Marriage from the province or territory is sufficient to prove that the marriage is valid. If the marriage took place outside Canada, it must be valid under the laws of that country and as well as under Canadian federal law.
- Common law partner: the sponsored person and sponsor must cohabit continuously for at least one year.
- Conjugal partner: a sponsored person may be defined as a conjugal partner if exceptional circumstances beyond their control has prevented the partners from qualifying as common law partners or spouses, such as immigration barriers or legal restrictions limited divorce or same sex relationships. Furthermore, the partners must be in a mutually dependent relationship for a least one years with the same level of commitment as a marriage or common law partnership. This can be demonstrated through emotional ties, intimacy, financial closeness such as joint ownership of assets and efforts to spend time together and reunite.
It is important to note that same-sex marriages performed within Canada are valid for spousal sponsorship and common law and conjugal partners can be same-sex.
An applicant cannot apply to become a sponsor if they:
- have not paid an immigration loan, a performance bond and/or family support payments;
- failed to support a previously-sponsored relative, which resulted in the sponsored individual seeking social assistance to meet basic needs;
- is under a removal order;
- is in a penitentiary, jail, reformatory or prison;
- receives social assistance for reasons other than a disability;
- have filed for bankruptcy and have not received an ‘order of discharge’ by the court
- were sponsored and held permanent resident status for less than five years;
- sponsored another spouse/partner previously and three years have not passed since the sponsored spouse/partner became a Canadian permanent resident;
- have already submitted an application to sponsor his or her current spouse/partner/child and a decision was not yet made on his or her submitted application;
- were convicted of a violent or sexual offence or an offence that caused, attempted to cause or threatened to cause bodily harm to a relative.