Marriage-Based Immigration: Canada vs United States

Marriage-Based Immigration: Canada vs United States

Marriage-based immigration is a common pathway for individuals looking to join their spouse in a new country, whether it's Canada or the United States. Sisu Legal Immigration helps many American-Canadian couples that are considering both options to live together and plan a future.  Both countries offer immigration options for spouses of citizens or permanent residents, but there are key differences in the application process, eligibility criteria, and the rights and responsibilities of the immigrant spouse. 

Here are a few differences to consider: 

Eligibility: Canada vs United States - Spouses, Common-Law Spouses, and Fiancés 

  • Canada recognizes common-law spouses more readily than the United States. For couples that have lived together for more than one year, but do not wish to get legally married, Canada is a better option. 
  • United States has a Fiancé Visa, and Canada does not. For couples that wish to start the process while engaged, United States is a better option. 

Processing Times: Canada vs United States Marriage Immigration

  • Canada: The processing times for spousal sponsorship applications in Canada can vary based on factors such as the location of the application and the volume of applications. On average, it can take approximately 12 to 24 months to process the application.
  • United States: The processing times for spousal visas in the United States can also vary but may be slightly shorter. Typically, it takes around 12 to 21 months to complete the entire process.

Interview: Canada Spousal Sponsorship vs US Marriage Petition 

  • Canada does not conduct an interview for most spousal sponsorship applications. The United States is moving towards less interviews but still conducts interviews for most marriage green card applications. 

Finances: Canada Spousal Sponsorship vs US Marriage Petition

  • Canada does not require a minimum low-income cut off for spousal sponsorships. Instead, it requires the sponsor to show that they will be able to support the applicant, without social assistance.
  • United States has specific financial requirements that must be met with income or assets, and it is strict about this requirement. 

Conditional Permanent Residence: United States 

  • United States: In the United States, when an immigrant spouse enters the country based on a marriage that is less than two years old when they become a permanent resident, they are granted conditional permanent residency, which is valid for two years. To remove the conditions, the couple must file Form I-751 jointly within the 90-day window before the conditional Green Card's expiration date. This requirement is in place to ensure that the marriage remains genuine. This is an additional immigration application that couples must go through. 
  • Canada: Canada does not impose conditional permanent residency on sponsored spouses. Instead, they receive unconditional permanent residency status upon approval, which grants them the same rights and privileges as any other permanent resident.

Travel while immigration process is ongoing: Canada vs US

  • When someone adjusts their status from within the US, they are not able to leave the country without advance parole (travel authorization document). In contrast, when someone applied for sponsorship via the in-land steam, although not recommended, may travel without requiring government approval. 
  • We have a product that discusses in detail how to prepare to travel to Canada while an immigration process is ongoing. This is possible because Canada recognizes "dual intent". You can find the details here

How can we help? 

While both Canada and the United States offer marriage-based immigration options, there are significant differences in eligibility criteria, application processes, processing times, and the rights and responsibilities of the immigrant spouse. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for making the right choice. If you want professional assistance in evaluating your options and pros and cons of each option, please book a strategy session with us.

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