Spousal Sponsorship Roadmap - What happens after submission?

Spousal Sponsorship Roadmap - What happens after submission?

Spousal Sponsorship Roadmap - What happens after a spousal sponsorship application is submitted? 

Find out the steps your application will go through after it is submitted. What does IRCC do to process your application? What other steps will the principal applicant and sponsor need to go through before landing.

Completeness Check 

The first thing that will happen is that an officer at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada ("IRCC") will go through your application to make sure that your application is complete. This includes checking that all required documents, translations, forms, and signatures were provided. 

IRCC may return your application if it does not believe that your application is complete. If your application is not processed it will not be placed in-line and will be returned to you without being placed in the queue. 

Many couples find it frustrating that it may take months to have the application returned. This can increase the waiting and processing time for couples significantly. 

Acknowledgment of Receipt Letter

The IRCC will provide an Acknowledgement of Receipt letter 

  • This letter confirms IRCC has received your package and checked that it is complete.
  • It will contain an application number which is used to track progress or to provide updates. 
  • Once you have an application number, you will be able to use this online tool to check your application status. 
  • If you use a representative, the representative will link your application to their portal account. Otherwise, you may also open an account to get electronic updates on your account. Please note that if you have a representative and you open an account, your file will be removed from the representative's portal. 
  • If your application is transferred to a visa office, IRCC will send a second Acknowledgement of Receipt from the Visa Office. 

Biometrics Instruction Letter 

  • This letter is provided as proof that a complete application has been submitted and that biometrics have been paid for. 
  • The principal applicant will need to take this letter to a biometrics collection center (usually a visa office) to have their fingerprints and photos taken.
  • Normally, you have 30 days to give biometrics from the date of the letter.

Eligibility Screen - for sponsor and applicant 

Sponsor Approval

  • This is a letter to confirm the sponsor's eligibility as a sponsor. 
  • This could include, status in Canada, age, financial capability, etc. 

Approval in Principle

  • IRCC Letter to let you know that the principal applicant meets the permanent residence eligibility requirements but may still need to pass the medical, security, and background checks. 
  • An updated police check may be requested. 

Medical Exam for Applicant 

  • A medical request letter will provide instructions for the Principal Applicant's medical examination. 
  • The appointment is conducted by an IRCC panel physician. 
  • Normally, you have 30 days to get a medical exam from the date of the letter.
  • The timing of the medical request letter may vary. 

Security Screen 

  • IRCC checks to make sure the principal applicant does not pose a threat to national security. Three government agencies will work together to conduct security screenings: IRCC, Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), and Canadian Security Intelligence Services (CSIS). 
  • Under the Privacy Act, you have the right to access personal information about yourself held by government institutions. You may request records from CSIS relating to your immigration or citizenship security screening by making an Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) request.

    Decide if interview is required and if so interview 

    • An interview may be required if IRCC has doubts about: 
      • the couple's cohabitation history, or
      • the genuineness of a relationship.

    Passport Request

    • To finish processing your application, IRCC will request the principal applicant's passport and may request two more passport photos. 
    • A Permanent Residence Visa will be added to your passport. 

    Decision Made 

    Decision Made - Confirmation of Permanent Residence Document

    • Confirmation you have been approved to become a permanent resident of Canada. 
    • The confirmation letter and permanent residence visa may have an expiry date on it. This is the date by which you must "land". 


    • An officer at a port of entry makes the final decision on landing/ entering to become a permanent resident of Canada. The officer normally checks that the information on your application is accurate and that the visa is not expired. 
    • Your permanent residence card normally arrives to your Canadian address by mail. 

    Celebrate - you are official a permanent resident of Canada, congratulations! 

    Do you have any more questions?

    Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.  

    Check out our Dual Intent Border Crossing Guide to help you navigate border crossing during the sponsorship processing period with confidence. This guide includes 20 common reasons for denials at the border, what to do when things go wrong, and tips on supporting documentation to show that you are eligible to enter Canada.

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