Proving Intent to Reside in Canada - Expat Spousal Sponsorship

Proving Intent to Reside in Canada - Expat Spousal Sponsorship

As an expat, you are a remarkable person. You have found a way to carve out a place for yourself in a new country, not knowing a soul. You have started new jobs, rented new apartments, found new friends, and maybe - just maybe - met your soulmate. If you didn’t have the nerve and the strength to leave everything behind on a leap of faith, you may never have found your true love. It’s incredible to think that new families are forged by this mix of bravery, luck, and wanderlust.

At Sisu Legal, we work with many couples who met each other when traveling or living abroad - against the odds, at just the right moment. It’s an honour and a privilege to help them move to Canada to raise families, reunite with loved ones, and create new adventures together. 

How do I prove that I have the intention to reside in Canada if I am living abroad when I apply for spousal sponsorship? 

Intent to Reside in Canada

Canadian immigration regulations allow Canadian citizens living outside Canada to sponsor their spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner or dependent child. Canadian permanent residents cannot sponsor their partner while residing abroad.

In order for the sponsorship to be approved, the IRCC officer must be satisfied that the sponsor will reside in Canada once the sponsored family members receive permanent residence status. 

Expat sponsors are often unsure how to demonstrate this intention to return to Canada. This is especially true when they have been living abroad for years, and when they don’t plan to return until their spouse is able to move with them. The uncertainty of immigration processing times adds unpredictability to the plan for moving back to Canada.

When an officer assesses an immigration application, they are considering the application and the facts as a whole. For that reason, one document or one action showing an attempt to re-establish Canadian ties may not be determinative. Canadian sponsors should take a holistic approach to demonstrating their intention to reside in Canada. Consider:

  • Where do you plan to live when you return to Canada? Will your living arrangement when you land in Canada be temporary, or more permanent?
  • What type of job will you be seeking? Have you started job hunting yet? Do you have a job offer already in hand?
  • Do you have any bank accounts still open in Canada?
  • Is your provincial driver’s license current?
  • Are your Canadian family members and friends supporting your return to Canada, such as letting you live with them for a period of time? If so, would they be willing to swear an affidavit regarding this support?

Gather any evidence you can that demonstrates this intention. For example, you might wish to include job applications that you have submitted to prospective employers, or a copy of a written offer to purchase residential property. As a rule of thumb, evidence that can be third-party verified tends to be most compelling to officers. 

You may provide evidence of the sponsored spouse’s intention to move to Canada - for example, completed job applications - but the regulations are clear: the sponsor must intend to reside in Canada. For that reason, focus more effort on demonstrating the sponsor’s intention to move back to Canada, rather than the sponsored spouse’s intention to live in Canada.


Interested in learning more about Canadian spousal sponsorship? Check out our blog series:

Part 1 - Who is Eligible to be Sponsored and Who May Sponsor?

Part 2 - Where to Start: Gathering Evidence and Required Documents

Part 3 - Translating Documents: Who, What, and How?

Part 4 - Strategy for Inland vs. Outland Spousal Sponsorship Applications


Sisu Legal offers done-for-you Spousal Sponsorship applications, so that you can spend your time on what matters to you most. Learn more about our Canadian Spousal Sponsorship Services.

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