Home » The Saturday Series » How To... Immigrate To Canada » Immigration: The Sponsorship Category (3/10)

Immigration: The Sponsorship Category (3/10)

The Canadian Parliament In Ottawa

The Cana­dian Par­lia­ment In Ottawa

Wel­come to my new series, “How to immi­grate to Canada“!

I recently received quite a lot of emails, ask­ing me ques­tions about the immi­gra­tion process. So I decided to explain the whole process in 10 posts, which will be pub­lished every Saturday.

I also encour­age you to ask any ques­tion you may have. I’m not an immi­gra­tion con­sul­tant, but from expe­ri­ence, I may be able to point you to the right direction!

In the series, we will see the dif­fer­ent options you have to come to Canada, as well as your rights and duties as a Per­ma­nent Res­i­dent, what hap­pens after you arrive etc.

Canada is com­mit­ted to reunite fam­i­lies. How­ever, as I wrote in Two Immi­gra­tion Myths, being mar­ried to or being in a rela­tion­ship with a Cana­dian cit­i­zen does not give you the right to live and work in Canada. How­ever, you may be eli­gi­ble to apply for per­ma­nent res­i­dence in Canada thought the spon­sor­ship cat­e­gory. Today, we will focus on spouse or partner’s spon­sor­ship, but other rel­a­tives may also be eli­gi­ble.

Who is eli­gi­ble to sponsor?

  • The spon­sor must be a Cana­dian cit­i­zen or a per­ma­nent res­i­dent in Canada, and be at least 18 years old.
  • The spon­sor must agree to pro­vide finan­cial sup­port for the appli­cant. As a result, you may not be eli­gi­ble to you receive gov­ern­ment finan­cial assis­tance for rea­sons other than a dis­abil­ity, declared bank­ruptcy and have not been released from it yet etc.

Who can be sponsored?

There are three categories:

  • Spouse: you are legally mar­ried to your spon­sor. Note that same-sex cou­ple are rec­og­nized as long as the mar­riage is legal accord­ing to both the law of the place where the mar­riage occurred and under Cana­dian law.
  • Common-law part­ner: you have been liv­ing together in a con­ju­gal rela­tion­ship for at least one year in a con­tin­u­ous 12-month period that was not interrupted.
  • Con­ju­gal part­ner: for part­ners (of the oppo­site sex or same sex) who, in excep­tional cir­cum­stances, can­not live together nor can get legally mar­ried. For exam­ple, you are in a same-sex rela­tion­ship and same-sex mar­riage is not per­mit­ted where you live. Or if you were refused long-term stays in each other’s country.

How does it work?

Unlike with the skilled worker cat­e­gory, you do not have to go through a point sys­tem. All you have to go is to con­vince Cit­i­zen­ship & Immi­gra­tion that your rela­tion­ship with a Cana­dian cit­i­zen or per­ma­nent res­i­dent is genuine.

Sounds easy? Not so fast!

Imag­ine that, by default, immi­gra­tion offi­cers sus­pect you to be in a rela­tion­ship with a Cana­dian only to be able to immi­grate to Canada. Now, you have to prove them wrong. Which means dis­play­ing your pri­vate life… at length.

First, you have to decide in which cat­e­gory to apply: spouse, common-law part­ners, or con­ju­gal part­ners. In each cat­e­gory, you will have to prove the rela­tion­ship is gen­uine. But let’s be real­is­tic: immi­gra­tion offi­cials tend to trust spouses or common-law part­ners over con­ju­gal part­ners, unless you have a really good rea­son to not be mar­ried or live together.

Then, you have to decide whether you are apply­ing from within Canada, or from out­side Canada. If you are already in Canada (on a tourist, a stu­dent, a work visa, or even if you lost your legal sta­tus), you may apply from within Canada or from out­side Canada, it’s up to you. Both have good sides are bad sides:

  • Apply­ing from within Canada: you will remain in Canada for the length of the process and may be eli­gi­ble for a work or study visa. On the other side, if you leave Canada dur­ing the immi­gra­tion process, you may not be able to enter the coun­try again. Besides, the process can be longer since most of the appli­ca­tions are processed in Buf­falo (NY), a very busy office. Finally, if your appli­ca­tion is turned down, you can­not appeal the decision.
  • Apply­ing from out­side Canada: you may visit Canada while your appli­ca­tion is being processed (usu­ally in your country’s Cana­dian embassy), as long as you are accepted, but you will not be able to work. If your appli­ca­tion is turned down, you may appeal the deci­sion. It’s sup­posed to be faster.

How to apply

The first thing you need to do is to down­load the appli­ca­tion from Cit­i­zen­ship & Immigration.

Fill in the paper­work. Don’t for­get to add as many proofs that your rela­tion­ship is gen­uine as you can. This could include:

  • Pro­vid­ing mar­riage cer­tifi­cate (if applicable)
  • Proofs that you are liv­ing together (joint bank accounts, joint lease receipts, bills and mails received at the same address, joint purchases…)
  • Pic­tures (mar­riage pic­tures, pic­tures in a relaxed set­ting or for spe­cial occa­sions, pic­tures taken months apart…)
  • Let­ters of fam­ily and friends acknowl­edg­ing the relationship
  • Travel doc­u­men­ta­tion (board­ing passes, hotel book­ings, pass­port stamps…) show­ing travel together

The appli­ca­tion pro­vides rel­a­tively lit­tle space for expla­na­tions. Don’t hes­i­tate to type on a sep­a­rate sheet of paper for more details.

Once your appli­ca­tion is com­plete, you must undergo a med­ical check-up. The appoint­ment must be made with a Des­ig­nated Med­ical Prac­ti­tioner (list here). You won’t get the results of the med­ical exam as they will be for­warded directly to the visa office. How­ever, you will get a call if there is a prob­lem (nice, I know).

Then, you must pay the fees and join the receipt to your appli­ca­tion. For one per­son, the total is $1040. The spon­sor fee is $75, the appli­cant fee is $475 and the right of per­ma­nent res­i­dence fee is $490.

And that’s it! You may mail your application.

What hap­pens next

  • First, the case pro­cess­ing cen­ter will assess the spon­sor eli­gi­bil­ity. This is usu­ally pretty quick and straightforward.
  • Then, the spouse or partner’s appli­ca­tion will be assessed. This is usu­ally the longest step, because that’s when the gen­uine­ness of the rela­tion­ship is studied.
  • Is there is any doubt, the appli­cant will need to go for an inter­view with a CIC agent. Ques­tions will be about the rela­tion­ship with the spon­sor, rea­sons for emi­grat­ing etc.
  • Finally, there is a secu­rity check, and the med­ical results will be reviewed.
  • Per­ma­nent res­i­dent is granted.

The most com­mon rea­son to refuse a spon­sor­ship appli­ca­tion is the belief the rela­tion­ship is not gen­uine. So be pre­pared and pro­vide as many proofs of your rela­tion­ship as you can.

Spon­sor­ing some­one is a seri­ous respon­si­bil­ity and the process is quite drain­ing, for both the appli­cant and the spon­sor. My own advice: if your rela­tion­ship is new, or if you don’t really know each other, think about it twice. Mar­riage fraud does exist, and CIC does not like to assess appli­ca­tions where both parts met on the web three months ago and have never seen each other!


  1. Zhu — most help­ful blog post EVER!!! Notes taken and added to my immi­gra­tion file ;) thank you!!

  2. I have spent the past 3 hours read­ing your arti­cles. Lots of use­ful infor­ma­tion and very well explained.

    My hus­band and I are in the process of gath­er­ing the doc­u­ments for a fam­ily class visa, and I must say it’s given me a lot of head ache. We’ve been mar­ried for 4 years and have been liv­ing in Ger­many since 2009. Recently, my hus­band has got­ten home sick so we decided to move to Canada. We never thought that the process would be so tedious and complicated.

    In the begin­ning, I had so many ques­tions, but slowly, after spend­ing lots of time on forums, web­sites, etc., I’ve gath­ered enough infor­ma­tion to feel more con­fi­dent about all this.
    Every­day I find some­thing new, though. Like for exam­ple in this post I found out that I must pay the right of per­ma­nent res­i­dence fee also before I send out the appli­ca­tion. For some rea­son I thought this is payed last after the appli­ca­tion has been approved. I was wrong and thank you so much for putting it out there.
    In the future, if I will even need answers I will def­i­nitely ask you!

    Again, thanks for shar­ing your experience.

    • Hi Valentina,

      Every­body find the process con­fus­ing at first, you are not the only one! It is a lot of infor­ma­tion to deal with and it can be a headache. The good part is, if you’ve been mar­ried for four years and have been liv­ing together, I expect your appli­ca­tion will go very smoothly.

      So, will you move to Canada? Are you happy about it?

      If you have any ques­tion, feel free to con­tact me!

      Best of luck :-)

      • Hi Zhu!

        Thank you for your reply.

        I’m very excited to move to Canada. We’re both very “inter­na­tional” if I may say so. I was born in Roma­nia and since the age of 19 I’ve lived in two dif­fer­ent coun­tries (Italy and Ger­many). My hus­band is born and raised in Canada, but his mother is Malaysian and his father is Ger­man, so he spent a lot of time in those coun­tries as well.

        I’ve never been to Canada before (any­where out­side Europe for that mat­ter) but I feel like I already have a con­nec­tion there. My hus­band finds him­self com­par­ing every­thing to Canada. “This wouldn’t have hap­pened if we were in Canada” or “In Canada, it would’ve been so much sim­pler”.
        We have no fam­ily in Ger­many, just my husband’s grand­mother who is 91 years old.
        I have a very spe­cial rela­tion­ship with my mother-in-law also, and I’m look­ing for­ward to being closer to her.

        I can say by now, that I’m in love with the idea of liv­ing in Canada. We both believe it would be the best place for us the start a fam­ily there. My hus­bands wants that our chil­dren have the same priv­i­leges he had while grow­ing up.

        I’ll let you know how it goes :) We’re almost ready to send the appli­ca­tion in, just wait­ing on the police clearances.

        Have a great day!

        • Wow, you two have an inter­na­tional back­ground indeed, that’s pretty cool! You’ll fit right in in Canada, every­body is a mix of some­thing her ;-)

          It really helps that you both have travel expe­ri­ence and your Eng­lish is very good. These are two other good points!

          Where will you set­tle in Canada?

          Canada is an inter­est­ing place. Like every other coun­try it has good sides and bad sides but over­all, I find life is pretty easy. Eas­ier than in Europe these days (I speak as a for­mer French!).

          Keep me posted! :-)

          • We will be stay­ing in Van­cou­ver when we first arrive. My hus­band has a lot of fam­ily and friends there or in the sur­round­ing areas. It is impor­tant for us to have them around espe­cially in the begin­ning until we get jobs and we’ll be able to rent a condo.
            But we’re not exclud­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of liv­ing some­where else, like Cal­gary, Alberta, Toronto, etc.

            My French isn’t that good though, I can under­stand about 80% but can’t speak at all. So for this rea­son, we’ll try to stick with the West side.

            I’m a bit wor­ried about find­ing a job, but I know for the first while I will have to set­tle with almost any­thing that helps us pay our bills. I’ve worked as a Lan­guage Teacher for the past 4 years (TEFL classes) and I am also a TELC Oral Exam­iner for the Eng­lish lan­guage. In a coun­try like Ger­many, where Eng­lish is a for­eign lan­guage, my exper­tise has ensured me a lot of great job offers and posi­tions.
            But in Canada, I am sure that it won’t be easy to teach Eng­lish. I’m will­ing to do some extra courses at the com­mu­nity col­lege maybe, and I’m also will­ing to change carriers.

            We’re still young and our motto is: “the sky is the limit”.

          • I was a French as a sec­ond lan­guage teacher for four years in Ottawa, and there is def­i­nitely a mar­ket for lan­guage classes in Canada. We have a lot of for­eign stu­dents and yes, French-speaking Cana­di­ans, who learn Eng­lish. I don’t know Van­cou­ver but there seems to be a lot of stu­dents from Asia attend­ing lan­guage classes.

            Just my two cents ;-)

  3. Hi Zhu! Thank you so much for your blog! The infor­ma­tion here is very help­ful. This spon­sor­ing thing is so com­pli­cated. I have a lot more to learn, but read­ing your blog was def­i­nitely a great start. Thank you!

    • Thank you for tak­ing the time to… thank me! I know, every­thing is very con­fus­ing at first. But it gets bet­ter, just take the time to review your options!

  4. Hi I’m a nanny here in canada and got my PR..I want to spon­sor my par­ents but my mum can­not speak Eng­lish you think she can pass? My only brother is over 18 he’s cur­rently a sea­man in africa how can I spon­sor him is there any way?hope to hear from u

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>