This series will help you discover how you can sponsor your spouse for Canadian Immigration. Part 4 will focus on "Planning Ahead - Strategy for Inland vs Outland Spousal Sponsorship Applications".
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.
If you missed it, Part 1 discussed, "Who is eligible to be sponsored and who may sponsor". Part 2 discussed, "Where to Start - Gathering Evidence and Documents Required". Part 3 discussed, "Translating Documents: who, what, and how".
Inland vs Outland Sponsorship Application
This is a frequently asked question. Below, you will find some general information on important considerations that may impact your decision when considering applying inland vs outland for spousal sponsorship. Just remember that this decision will very much depend on each couple's specific circumstances.
But first, what is the difference between an inland vs outland sponsorship application?
Canadian Inland Spousal Sponsorship Application
An inland spousal sponsorship application must be submitted while the couple is living in Canada. An important benefit of an inland application is that the person being sponsored may become eligible for an open work permit while the application is being processed.
The open work permit is generally applied for at the same time as the spousal sponsorship application and allows the sponsored person to work while the spousal application is processed. In order to work, it is important to wait until the open work permit is approved.
Another benefit of the inland spousal sponsorship application is that you may both begin building your life in Canada while the application is being processed.
Tip: If you are the foreign national spouse or partner, you will want to be mindful of your status while in Canada and ensure that you maintain proper status while your application is in process, and particularly, before receiving the open work permit.
Canadian Outland Spousal Sponsorship Application
An outland spousal sponsorship application is submitted from abroad. If you are a Canadian citizen sponsor, you may be living abroad with your spouse. If you are a Canadian permanent resident or a citizen, your spouse may be living abroad.
Tip: Outland applicants can still be in Canada and apply through the outland program, and may be permitted to travel in and out of Canada through the application process.
Spousal Sponsorship - Inland vs Outland
Consider: Does your spouse have a Canadian temporary resident permit or are they able to obtain one?
In order to apply inland, the foreign national has to already be in Canada. Often this means, the foreign spouse is in Canada on a temporary resident permit, such as a visitor's visa or a work visa. This is not always possible. Where it is not possible, the outland application may be the only choice.
Consider: Does your spouse have to travel outside of Canada while the application is being processed?
Generally speaking, travel outside of Canada is not recommended while an inland spousal sponsorship application is being processed. Sometimes, travel is possible. However, travel involves a risk that the foreign national will not be allowed to come back to Canada. There is a risk that the spousal application will be declared "abandoned" by IRCC if they decide to leave the country. For this reason, in-land applications are not recommended for frequent travelers.
Consider: Are you able to financially support your spouse while the open work permit is being processed?
As discussed above, the principal applicant (the spouse being sponsored) may be entitled to an open work permit under the inland application. However, the spouse cannot work until the work permit is processed. Pre-Covid, the processing time was between 4-6 months but it is expected that processing times may increase. Consider whether you are able to financially support your spouse while their work permit is being processed.
Consider: Is your spouse able to work remotely in Canada without a work permit?
In some circumstances, your spouse may be able to work in Canada without a work permit. For example, in some remote work arrangements or if they qualify for a work-permit exemption. Before working in Canada, legal advice tailored to your specific situation is recommended. This may be a solution for applicants that want to apply inland but cannot or do not want to wait for an open work permit.
Consider: Are you worried about a refusal of your spousal sponsorship application?
If you are worried about a refusal with your application, the outland process tends to be better. Potential reasons for a refusal may be a perceived lack of compatibility or other inadmissibility issues. Inland applications do not carry with it a right of appeal whereas outland applications do.
Consider: Processing Time - Inland vs Outland
Since March 13, 2020, over 13,000 spousal sponsorship applications have been received by IRCC.
The visa processing offices are operating at a reduced capacity. Unfortunately, this means processing delays are likely to be expected.
Processing times for both inland and outland applications are posted here. But please note that these are likely not accurate at this time. Additionally, the processing time for an outland application may be affected by the corresponding processing office. Outland applications are processed through the visa office that serves that applicant's country of origin, or where they have resided legally for at least one year. Some countries are faster than others and you may wish to assess the processing time of your corresponding visa processing office to make a more informed decision.
This is an important consideration because an inland vs outland applications may also affect your living situation for longer than expected. If you are thinking about applying, you may wish to apply sooner rather than later due to this situation.
Part 5 of How to Sponsor your Spouse for Canadian Immigration will discuss "Hiring a lawyer vs DIY Spousal Sponsorship Applications".
PS. We can help you with both methods. Stay tuned for an exciting announcement. If you want to make sure you don't miss it, you can subscribe to our newsletter here.