The Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class and the Family Class allow Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their spouses, common-law partners or conjugal partners who live with them in Canada or live outside Canada.
Canadian sponsorship programs allow Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor and bring family members to Canada. Sponsoring means to give financial support for the basic needs of the sponsored person (including food, clothes, shelter, and other everyday needs).
This article covers three categories of sponsored persons:
- Spouse: an opposite- or same-gender partner with whom the sponsor is legally married, and the marriage is a valid civil marriage
- Common-law partner: an opposite- or same-gender partner who has been living with the sponsor in a marriage-like relationship for at least 1 year
- Conjugal partner: an opposite- or same-gender partner outside Canada who has had a binding relationship with the sponsor for at least 1 year, but could not live with their partner because of an immigration barrier, sexual orientation or religious reasons. A foreign national living in Canada cannot be sponsored as a conjugal partner
Those categories of partners can come with the sponsor to Canada if they meet the eligibility requirements of an immigration program and are not inadmissible to Canada.
The sponsor can apply for sponsorship under the Family Class or under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class.
The sponsor should submit an application under the Family Class if:
- He or she is sponsoring their conjugal partner
- The sponsored person lives outside Canada
- The sponsored person currently lives with the sponsor in Canada but does not plan to stay in the country while the application is being processed
The sponsor should submit an application under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class if:
- He or she is sponsoring their spouse or common-law partner
- The sponsored person lives with the sponsor in Canada and has valid immigration status in the country
- The sponsored party qualifies for and would like to apply for an Open Work Permit to be able to work while the application is being processed
If you are sponsoring a spouse or partner, the length of undertaking is 3 years from the day the sponsored person becomes a permanent resident. This rule is effective in all Canadian provinces, including Quebec.
Eligibility of a Sponsor
You can become a sponsor if you are:
- At least 18 years old
- A Canadian citizen or a permanent resident
- Living in Canada. If the sponsor is a Canadian citizen living outside Canada, he must show the plans to live in Canada when the sponsored person becomes a permanent resident. Canadian citizens travelling as tourists are not considered to be living abroad. Permanent residents living abroad cannot sponsor from outside of Canada
- Not receiving social assistance for reasons other than a disability
- Can provide for the basic needs of the sponsored person. If a spouse or partner has a dependent child who has dependent children of their own, the sponsor must meet a minimum low-income-cut-off (LICO) score
You cannot be a sponsor if you:
- Are financially unreliable (have failed to pay an immigration loan, performance bond or family support payments, have failed to provide for the basic needs of a previously-sponsored person or is going through the process of bankruptcy)
- Have criminal records (are in a penitentiary or jail, were convicted of committing, attempting or threatening to commit a violent or sexual offence, or an offence causing bodily harm to a family member)
- Are under a removal order
- Receive social assistance for a reason other than a disability
- Were sponsored by a spouse or partner and became a permanent resident less than 5 years ago
- Sponsored a previous spouse or partner and 3 years have not passed since this person became a permanent resident
Eligibility of a Sponsored Person
You can sponsor your spouse or partner if:
- The sponsored party is at least 18 years old (16 years old in Quebec)
- The relationship is real and it has not a goal of just getting a permanent resident status in Canada
You must ensure that the sponsored party will not need to ask the government for financial help. Otherwise, the sponsor will have to pay back what they received.
Documents and Fees
To sponsor a spouse or partner, you need to submit a valid marriage certificate or proof of registration of the marriage, as well as identity documents (travel documents, passports, and birth certificates), biometrics, and medical exam results. The complete list of documents depends on the country of origin.
The sponsor has to pay the fees in the amount of C$1,040 including the sponsorship fee (C$75), principal applicant processing fee (C$475), and right of permanent residence fee (C$490). In Quebec, the fees are C$284 for the principal sponsored person.
There is also the biometrics fees (C$85 per person, totalling C$170 for families applying at the same time).
Learn more about sponsorship programs in the article “Sponsor”.