Spousal immigration is an important aspect of Canadian immigration and thousands of people apply under this category every year. If you have a spouse who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, he/she can sponsor you to immigrate to Canada under certain conditions. This is a useful program for those people who cannot qualify under the Federal Skilled Worker or the Canadian Experience Class. Moreover, the applicant doesn’t have to meet strict policies as it would have to meet under the skilled worker programs. However, the sponsor must meet the eligibility criteria to be able to sponsor the spouse.

Are There Any Complications In Spousal Sponsorship Programs?

As with Federal Skilled Worker programs, spousal immigration program is also under heavy influx of applications. As a result, the applicants are experiencing long delays, and in some cases refusals. There are quite many reasons: Many sponsors don’t qualify easily for the program as there are rigid eligibility criteria for the sponsor. Others find it difficult to prepare an appropriate application.

Changes to Spousal Sponsorship application in December 2016

Sponsoring spouse to CANADA

On December 15, 2016, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) made some changes to spousal sponsorship application in order to reduce processing times. Spousal Sponsorship program is part of the Family Class immigration. Under this program a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident can sponsor their spouse, common-law or conjugal partner to Canada for permanent residency options. In 2015, over 70,000 applicants applied through Spousal Sponsorship program but only 48,000 applications were processed that year due receiving more applications than expected. This increase delayed processing times and therefore applicants have no choice but wait for their application being reviewed. So if you submitted an inland application the expected wait time was approximately 26 months and 18 months for an overseas application. The minister of IRCC John McCallum noticed this problem and announced that Canadians should not be apart from their loved ones for long periods of time and therefore processing times have now been reduced to 12 months. What this means anyone with a sponsorship application already in the system will receive a decision on their case by December 2017 at the latest and about 80 percent of the new applications will be processed within 12 month time frame.

Spousal Sponsorship Changes

  • Inland and Overseas application have been combined as one application package, meaning you no longer have to apply separately. Both inland and overseas sponsorship applications use the same application package and checklist.
  • new basic guide has been created that helps clients through the application process. This guide summarizes the application process and simplifies the process of the application by providing step by step instructions of what they need to do to apply.
  • The document checklist has been made more personalized meaning the applicants can use one of four checklists to find out which forms and documents they need to submit.
  • The relationship questionnaire has been simplified meaning there are fewer questions and the questions have been made easier to understand.
  • Applicants no longer require to submit an medical exam up front, the applicant will be informed of instructions when medical exam is needed. Once you get the medical exam instructions you have 30 days to complete it. Upfront medical examination or no longer needed so just wait until you get instructions and complete the instructions within the deadline.
  • Applicants need to provide police certificates only from country they are currently living in and the country in which they have spent most of their adult life since the age of 18.
  • Other clearances will be requested if needed
  • The person that is being sponsored can now access more of their information through their online account. Through the account the sponsor can send additional documents as requested by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) get the latest up status on their application and receive messages through their online account.


December 2015 Spousal Application OLD December 2016 Applications NEW & Approved
2 applications (separate for inland & overseas applications 1 application (everyone uses same application)
180 pages of guide (separate for inland and overseas) 1 guide that has 75 pages
14 guides and checklist 1 checklist
3 relationship questionnaires, 1 sponsorship evaluation form 1 relationship questionnaire, 1 sponsorship form
Upfront medical and police certificates Will be requested later in the process
Processing times up 26 months 12 months applications


How am I affected by the changes in the Spousal Sponsorship Application?


If you have applied for spousal sponsorship application before December 15, 2016 you are not affected by the new change and therefore you do not need to reapply. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has made a commitment to receiving a decision by end of December 2017 for about 80 percent of the applications received. The applications are processed in order they are received. To assist CIC with processing your applications faster ensure your file is up to date and linking your application to your online application. When you do this CIC is able to communicate with you if there is anything else needed or any updates on your application.


If you applied for spousal sponsorship between December 15, 2016 and January 31, 2017 you can either use the new application package posted on the government website or the old application package. The goal of CIC is to process 80 percent of the applications that were submitted on or after December 15, 2016 and get a decision within 12 months of the application received.


If you applied for Spousal Sponsorship application after January 31, 2017 then you would have to use the new application package on the CIC website. So make sure you do not use the old package as they will no longer be accepted.

Spousal Sponsorship Reducing the Backlog

As large number of applications began to pile up in immigration office, the government of Canada decided to take some necessary measures to reduce it. This backlog was not only causing delays to existing applications but was also debilitating the government’s capacity to attract potential new applicants. Along with many other immigration programs, the spousal sponsorship program also saw important changes. Generally, the assessment process became more stringent and only after a long and thorough scrutiny process, do the applications reach a decision. This takes a lot of time.

Factors to Consider when Preparing an Application as a Sponsor

The following is a list of important aspects that must be considered by a sponsor before preparing an application. Many cases get rejected because they fail to comply with one of the following requirements or fail to submit sufficient proof to support their case. It is important that you consider these factors before applying to immigrate to Canada.

Were You Yourself Sponsored a Few Years Ago?

If you wish you sponsor your spouse, and you were yourself sponsored by a permanent resident in Canada a few years ago, it is legally possible. However, according to the latest requirement, you must wait for at least five years before you can sponsor your spouse. The time starts after you have received your permanent residence.

Are You a Established Resident in Canada?

The government of Canada has been experiencing cases where people immigrate to Canada and then due to lack of financial resources, they turn to the government and other private organizations for support. To ensure that the sponsor is able to support the immigrant financially, the spousal sponsorship program obligates the sponsor to take the whole and sole responsibility of the immigrant. He/she must support the immigrant financially and must meet his/her living requirements.

Before preparing your application, you must provide proof that you have sufficient funds and/or income sources to not only support yourself and your dependents, but to also support the sponsored immigrant. It is important to keep in mind that if you have taken loans in the past or have defaulted on any of them, you may have to provide additional proofs that your circumstances have changed and now you are in a state to support the immigrant.

Have you Previously Sponsored a Relative?

Your history matters a lot when you are applying under the spousal sponsorship immigration. The government of Canada is interested to know how you have been in paying your credits or supporting an invited immigrant in the past, when you are applying to immigrate to Canada. If you have sponsored a relative in the past and were not able to meet his/her requirements as promised, this is a red sign for you. You must prove that your circumstances were different then and must provide documents that prove your current financial standing.

Responsibilities for Sponsor and Applicant

For all sponsorship applications, sponsors must:

  • Ensure that they meet sponsorship criteria and eligibility requirements and are sponsoring a relative that is a member of the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class,
  • Complete the undertaking and the sponsorship agreement,
  • Respond to the self-declaration schedules related to sponsorship eligibility and their relationship with sponsored persons, including the length of the relationship,
  • Include bank or HPM receipt for payment of all applicable fees
  • State whether application should be discontinued if sponsorship requirements are not met,
  • Submit correctly completed and signed sponsorship and permanent residence application forms, with all required schedules and all required supporting documents to the CPC-V.

Spousal Sponsorship Roles and responsibilities of the CPC-V

The CPC-V will:

  • Review both the sponsorship and permanent residence applications to ensure that they are correctly completed and signed and contain the minimum requirements stipulated in the Regulations,
  • Ensures that the application includes proof of payment of applicable fees at a Canadian bank. Fees include:
    • sponsorship processing fee (non-refundable);
    • application processing fee for each person included in the application (refundable in certain circumstances); and
    • Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF) (may be deferred, or is refundable if permanent residence not received).
  • Processes the sponsorship application and assesses sponsors against sponsorship criteria and eligibility requirements including reviewing the application against the spousal policy criteria as needed,
  • Processes the application for permanent residence and assesses the applicant against eligibility requirements, including reviewing the application against the spousal policy criteria as needed;
  • Refuse the application or grants “approval in principle” based on sponsorship eligibility requirements,
  • Requests admissibility assessment for family members residing overseas from appropriate visa office, providing visa office with a copy of the application listing the names and addresses of these individuals,
  • Initiate request for background/security checks for applicant and in-Canada dependent children through an electronic download of required information with appropriate policing authority,
  • Refer to local CIC any cases requiring in depth investigation,
  • Completes admissibility checks (i.e. medical, security and background) and updates electronic record in FOSS. Once these updates are completed in FOSS, the local CIC will contact the applicant for a permanent residence interview and complete the permanent residence process

Assessing Relationship Types

Relationship Evidence:
Spouse Documentary evidence can include

  • a marriage certificate;
  • proof of divorce if either the applicant or spouse was previously married;
  • evidence that the applicant lives with the sponsor, e.g., mortgage, lease, other documents showing the same address for both

Evidence may also include:

  • wedding invitations and photos; and
  • documents from other institutions or other government authorities, such as the Canada Revenue Agency, indicating a marital relationship.
Common-law partner In the case of a common-law partner, documentary evidence should include:

  • a statutory declaration of common-law relationship (included in the application package);
  • proof of separation from a former spouse if either the sponsor or the applicant were previously married; and
  • evidence that they have been living together for at least one year (e.g. documents showing the same address for both).

Evidence may also include:

  • documents from other institutions or other government authorities, such as the Canada Revenue Agency, indicating a marital or common-law relationship;
  • documents indicating joint ownership of property (mortgages, leases);
  • joint bank accounts; and
  • insurance policies.
Cohabitation One of the eligibility criteria in R124 is cohabitation with the sponsor in Canada. Documents provided as proof of the relationship should also establish that the spouse or common-law partner and the sponsor are living together.
If this is not clear from the evidence available, the CPC-V should request further documents or refer to a CIC for an interview (see sample letter in Appendix F – Invitation to Examination Interview). Persons who are not cohabiting with their sponsor at the time CIC seeks to grant permanent residence (persons who have been removed or who have left Canada voluntarily), are not eligible to be granted permanent residence in the Spouse or common-law partner class and may apply in the family class(overseas).

Still Confused about Spousal Sponsorship?

There are many other requirements as well. To be sure that you are moving on the right path, you must consult an immigration consultant. We have helped many people who wanted to immigrate to Canada under the spousal immigration program. We can help you too. All you need to do is make a call and we can take it from there. We’ll arrange an appointment for you and a dedicated representative will discuss your matter. This experienced person will stay by your side throughout the process and will keep you informed about your application status.

We can Help You With your Spousal Sponsorship Application!

Spousal Sponsorship Help

We have dealt with hundreds of Spousal Sponsorship application cases. We have helped our clients in their difficult situations and have guided them to draft a more effective application. We can help you draft your application and arrange the required documents. A well-planned and complete application will increase your likelihood of acceptance and will save your from hassle.

If you are worried about the legal fees, don’t be! Our goal is to help everyone that is interested in immigrating to Canada. Contact us and we can provide numerous options for you. You can also purchase our very affordable Do it Yourself Immigration Kit which details everything for you. If you are still not sure, feel free to get back to us. We will review your case before you submit it to give you the best possible outcome.

Many changes have been made to the sponsorship applications to reduce processing times and have family members reunited faster. As simplified the process has been made it is still recommended to hire an immigration expert to assist you with application process. Many clients still tend to make errors on their application that could potentially harm the decision on their application. To avoid delays or refusals on your application then contact Wise Advice Canada for the best possible outcome. Wise Advice Canada has submitted many successful sponsorship application and we can help you too! Contact us today at 905-499-2902 to book your consultation.