Canadian and US Immigration Law

Family Class Sponsorship and Application for Permanent Residence – Spousal Sponsorship Canada

Immigration Lawyer Canada

Applications for permanent residence can seem overwhelming, especially when it comes to Family Class Sponsorshipand more specifically when applying for a Canada spousal sponsorship.  There are many things to consider and understand prior to filing to sponsor a spouse to Canada for permanent residency.

Our experienced immigration lawyers in Canada are here to help you navigate the at times opaque and complex process for spousal sponsorship Canada. 

What Is Permanent Residence in Canada?

A permanent resident in Canada is an individual that Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”)  has approved to live in Canada on a permanent basis (provided that the permanent residence commits no crimes and complies with the residency obligations under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations). 

A permanent resident remains a citizen of their country of origin; however, a permanent resident is entitled to live, work or study in Canada, access socialized health care, pay taxes and benefit from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. After being a permanent resident for 3 out of 5 years, an application for Canadian Citizenship can be filed. 

Sponsor Spouse to Canada FAQs – Spouse Definition

For the purposes of a Family Class Sponsorship for permanent residence in Canada, IRCC recognizes spouses as opposite or same gender people who are in a legally valid marriage, in a common law partnership (continuous cohabitation for at least 12 consecutive months) or in a conjugal partnership (the foreign national lives outside of Canada and has been in a real relationship of mutual dependence for at least 12 months and there is a barrier to marriage or cohabiting). If these criteria are met, then you can begin to sponsor your spouse to Canada.

Do I Qualify to Sponsor My Spouse to Canada?

As experienced immigration lawyers in Canada, many clients begin the spousal visa Canada application process by asking the fundamental question “do I qualify to sponsor my spouse to Canada?” 

Sponsoring your spouse to Canada requires that you are:

  • At least 18 years old
  • A Canadian citizen/permanent resident
  • Living in Canada 
  • Able to demonstrate that you are not in receipt of social assistance, aside for reasons of disability
  • Able to demonstrate that you can provide the basic needs for the person you are sponsoring
  • If outside of Canada, you need to demonstrate that you intend to move to Canada upon the approval of the permanent residence application

There are also certain conditions that, if met, may prevent you from applying for a spousal sponsorship Canada visa such as:

  • Failure to pay court ordered child or spousal support
  • Default on a previous sponsorship
  • Past declaration of an undischarged bankruptcy
  • Convictions pertaining to a violent/sexual/crime against a relative
  • You were sponsored less than 5 years ago  

If you have any questions regarding sponsoring a spouse to Canada, feel free to contact our immigration law firm. 

What Are the Steps to Family Class Sponsorship?

Our team of immigration lawyers in Canada will assess your information and evaluate your case to advise you as to the necessary materials that are required to prepare the application. Medical exams and police certificates are required from the foreign national, in addition to materials that support the bona fides of the application and the application forms.

The application and information about the sponsor and the applicant for permanent residence are submitted together at the same time via an online process. Should IRCC have questions or requests for additional information throughout the process, we will advise you.

Initially, IRCC will evaluate whether the sponsor meets all requirements for a Family Class Sponsorship. If so, IRCC will advise that the sponsorship undertaking has been approved. Then, the application for permanent residence will be reviewed. Once the sponsorship is approved, the request for the medical examination is issued.  At any time throughout the process, IRCC may request clarifying information.

If the application was filed using the “inside of Canada” process, as the case undergoes further review a work permit will be issued if an application for a work permit was included with the file.

It is unusual for interview requests to occur; however, if an interview is necessary, that is the next step.

If IRCC determines that the applicant for permanent residence meets all the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulation, your Canada spousal sponsorship will be approved. Depending upon the circumstances, either a passport request letter will be issued or landing instructions will be provided.

How to Prove the Validity of the Relationship?

In addition to ensuring that an applicant for permanent residency is admissible to Canada on medical and criminal grounds, IRCC also examines whether the relationship is genuine. 

IRCC is essentially vetting the relationship to ensure that it’s not a “immigration marriage” as it’s colloquially known (referred to as a “green card marriage” in the US). In other words, the IRCC is assessing the veracity of the relationship to ensure that the Canada spousal sponsorship application is not made in bad faith. 

Not only does IRCC ask that all spousal visa Canada applications include a detailed questionnaire outlining the development and nature of the relationship but supporting documents are also required. This can include items such as:

  • A marriage certificate
  • A prenuptial agreement
  • A cohabitation agreement
  • Photos
  • Evidence of shared residence
  • Evidence of correspondence to the same address
  • Copies of shared financial accounts
  • Documents demonstrating that family and friends recognize the relationship
  • Proof of visits
  • And more

With respect to conjugal partnership, the necessary documents will vary depending upon the circumstances but generally include evidence of economic support, recognition by others of the relationship, shared beliefs, evidence of maintaining the relationship for at least one year.

How Guberman // Appleby Immigration Lawyers Can Help with Canada Spousal Sponsorship

With many years of experience as Canadian immigration lawyers, Guberman // Appleby Immigration Lawyers is well-suited to help with your Family Class Sponsorship and Application for Permanent Residence in Canada. 

We will assess your situation and advise as to the strategy that is best for your situation and set of facts. We will also examine whether the spouses are already together in Canada, whether there is an option for the foreign spouse to come to Canada on a work permit first or whether the best route is an application for permanent residence as a spouse from outside of Canada. We will canvas the history of your relationship, your criminal and medical background and, also, whether there are children who will be included in the application.

Each case is unique, and we will provide a customized immigration solution for you and your family.  We will provide you with efficient and personalized service with our lawyers and law clerks always available to respond to your questions.


We welcome you to contact us directly to discuss the above. Please contact one of our immigration lawyers, by reaching out to our general line 416 548 7100 or via email Our immigration lawyers are always available to discuss any of your specific Canadian or US immigration queries either virtually or in person. We look forward to hearing from you.