How to Sponsor your Spouse for Canadian Immigration - Part 1

How to Sponsor your Spouse for Canadian Immigration - Part 1

This series will help you discover how you can sponsor your spouse for Canadian Immigration. Part 1 will focus on discussing who is eligible to be sponsored and who may sponsor.

Canada’s spousal sponsorship program is available to a spouse, common-law partner, or a conjugal partner of a Canadian citizen, Canadian permanent resident or Indian under the Canadian Indian Act. The end goal is to obtain permanent residence for the spouse, common-law partner, or a conjugal partner.

Does my significant other qualify for sponsorship? 

Spouses, common-law partners and conjugal partners qualify for sponsorship. The aforementioned are defined as follows by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). 


Means either of the two people (opposite or same gender) in a marriage that is legally recognized in the country where it took place, as well as in Canada. Marriages performed outside of Canada by proxy, telephone, fax, internet and other forms of marriage where one or both persons weren’t physically present at the ceremony are NOT recognized.

Common Law Partner

Means a person who has been living in a conjugal relationship with another person (opposite or same gender), continuously for at least one year. A conjugal relationship exists when there is a significant degree of commitment between two people.

To show that you are in a common-law relationship, you will need to submit proof that you:

share the same home,

support each other financially and emotionally,

have children together, if applicable, and

present yourselves in public as a couple.

Conjugal Partner

Means a person who is living outside Canada, in a conjugal relationship with a sponsor for at least one year, and could not live with the sponsor as a couple because of reasons beyond their control (e.g. immigration barrier, religious reasons or sexual orientation).

Principal applicants who are living in Canada are not eligible to be sponsored as conjugal partners, either in the Spouse, Common-law in Canada program or the overseas sponsorship program.

This term applies to both heterosexual and homosexual couples.

In most cases, the foreign partner is also not able to legally marry their sponsor and qualify as a spouse. In all other respects, the couple is similar to a common-law couple or a married couple, meaning they have been in a bona fide (genuine or real) conjugal relationship for a period of at least one year.

A significant degree of attachment and mutual interdependence between both partners must be shown. The couple will need to submit proof of the obstacles or restrictions that are preventing them from living together or getting married.

Can I sponsor my fiancé for Canadian Immigration? 

There is no separate category for engaged couples, however, most qualify for spousal sponsorship via the common-law partner category. In some cases, it helps to apply after becoming legally married if cohabitation was not achieved for a consecutive period of 12 months.

How do I qualify as a sponsor for Canadian immigration? 

To qualify as a sponsor, you must be able to:

• Support your partner financially

• Make sure the sponsored person does not need social assistance

Other eligibility criteria for the sponsor:

• At least 18 years old

• Canadian Citizen, permanent resident, or a person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act.

• Living in Canada if a permanent resident. If you are a Canadian citizen living outside of Canada, you must show that you plan to live in Canada when your sponsored relative becomes a permanent resident.

• Ability to show that you are not receiving social assistance for reasons other than a disability.

• You must be able to show that you can provide the basic needs for:

• Yourself

• Your spouse or partner

• Your spouse or partner’s dependent child(ren) (if applicable)

• Your dependent child(ren) (if applicable)

You may have trouble qualifying as a sponsor if:

• You were sponsored by a spouse or partner and you became a permanent resident less than 5 years ago.

• You have already applied to sponsor the spouse, parent or child you are currently seeking to sponsor and a decision on that application has not been made.

• You are still financially responsible for a previous spouse or partner that you sponsored.

• You are in jail, prison, or a penitentiary.

• You were convicted of attempting, threatening to commit or committing a violent criminal offense, any offense against a relative or any sexual offense inside or outside Canada.

• You did not pay back:

• An immigration loan;
• A performance bond;
• Court-ordered family support payments such as alimony or child support.

• Declared bankruptcy and are not discharged.

• Receive social assistance for a reason other than a disability.

• You have a removal order against you.

What are my obligations as a sponsor for Canadian immigration? 

You must be able to provide financial support to the sponsored persons.

You will be required to sign an undertaking, promising to give financial support for the basic needs of your spouse or partner and their dependent children for three years from the day your significant other becomes a permanent resident.

If you are sponsoring a child under 22 years of age, the length of time of the undertaking for financial support is ten years from the time the dependent child becomes a permanent resident, or until the dependent child becomes 22 years old, whichever comes first. 

The basic needs include food, clothing, shelter and other needs for everyday living. It also includes dental care, eye care and other health needs that are not covered by public health services.

In most cases, there is no low-income cut off to sponsor your spouse or partner, although some exceptions may apply.

What's Next? 

Part 2 of How to Sponsor your Spouse for Canadian Immigration will discuss "Where to Start - Gathering Evidence and Documents Required". Stayed tuned.  

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