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!


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Im not sure how much I have to pay to spon­sor my son?
    I already paid 75$ , but if he is the prin­ci­ple appli­cant?
    Im a Cana­dian cit­i­zen, and my son sin­gle, under 18 years?

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