How to sponsor your spouse from Hong Kong for Canadian immigration

An overview of the Canadian spousal and common-law partner sponsorship process for Hongkongers and the Canadians who love them.

If you are Canadian and you want to sponsor your spouse or common-law partner from Hong Kong for Canadian immigration, the first step is to see if you are eligible.

As the sponsor, you have to be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or First Nation over the age of 18. You also need to sign an undertaking, confirming that you will be financially responsible for yourself as well as your partner and any dependent children you have. If your dependents do end up receiving social assistance, you may have to pay back what they received during the years that you agreed to provide for them.

Certain circumstances could make you ineligible to sponsor. Beyond violent criminal offences, you could also be inadmissible if you failed to pay an immigration loan, are going through bankruptcy and not discharged, or if you sponsored a previous spouse within three years of your application. These are just some of the factors that could affect your eligibility to sponsor.

If you are the partner of a Canadian, you also have to be eligible to be sponsored. You must be over the age of 18, and pass background, security, as well as medical checks. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will look to see that your relationship is genuine, and you did not just tie the knot to get Canadian permanent residency status.

See if You’re Eligible for Spousal Sponsorship

Outland vs Inland sponsorship for Hong Kong residents

If you are living in Hong Kong while you and your Canadian partner are going through the sponsorship process, you will be considered outland applicants. It is possible for your Canadian partner to live with you in Hong Kong throughout the process, but you have to demonstrate that you will both move to Canada if you are approved for permanent residency.

If you are living with your partner in Canada, you will likely be processed as inland applicants. When applying from within Canada, you may be eligible for an Open Work Permit.

Hong Kong residents also have other options to come to Canada. In 2021, Canada began unveiling special immigration pathways for Hong Kong residents. In February, IRCC launched an open work permit for Hongkongers who graduated from a post-secondary institution. Amid COVID-19 travel restrictions, Hongkongers who are outside Canada will need to be exempt in order to enter the country. Spouses and common-law partners of Canadians are exempt, but they still have to comply with other public health measures.

What documents do you need from Hong Kong?

IRCC changes guidelines regularly. The instructions for foreign nationals will depend on your residency status, where you are applying from, and maybe even your travel history with your Canadian partner. The government provides an application guide with more specific and up-to-date information.

For Hongkongers living in Hong Kong, there are currently special instructions for documents on IRCC’s document checklist. At the time this article was written, IRCC asked for people born in the People’s Republic of China since 1996 to submit a notarized copy of the original medical certificate of birth. If this pertains to you, and you can’t provide this document, you will have to explain why in your application.

Hong Kong passport-holders must provide the household register called the “hukou,” and proof of marital status for children 16 years of age and older.

If you were divorced in Hong Kong, you need to provide an “Absolute nisi decree.”

What happens after you submit the application?

The processing begins once IRCC receives your complete application. If the department determines that your application is incomplete they will return it.

IRCC has a 12-month processing standard on spousal sponsorship applications. In March 2021, Canada expanded its family-sponsorship processing capacity to help meet this one-year standard.

During the processing period, IRCC asks for biometrics and a medical exam from the foreign spouse. You will have 30 days to send them in. IRCC may also ask for more information or an in-person interview at any time.

You can track and update your application status online until IRCC makes a decision on your application. IRCC will send you instructions about the final steps the foreign spouse or common-law partner needs to take to become a permanent resident.

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