Sponsoring non-status spouses and common-law partners for Canadian immigration

Shelby Thevenot
Published: June 19, 2020

There are options for spouses and common-law partners of Canadians to get permanent residence even if they do not have immigration status.

Cases involving “lack of status” spouses and partners fall under Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)’s objective to help keep families together. It also aims to prevent hardship from separating a couple who are already living together in Canada.

Although it is possible to receive a removal order for being in Canada without status, IRCC has policies that allow people to apply for spousal or common-law sponsorship as a non-status migrant without being forced to leave. The couple still has to meet all other criteria for spousal and common-law sponsorship admissibility in order for the permanent residence application to be successful.

Learn more about Canadian family sponsorship

Though Canadians are able to sponsor their foreign partners regardless of immigration status, they still must sign an undertaking, which is a promise to the government that they will support the basic needs of their spouse or partner and dependent children. Undertaking requirements are different for sponsors from Quebec and from the rest of Canada.

The IRCC webpage on the policy says that undertakings are required because they “can be an indication of the applicant’s links with relatives in Canada.”

What is “lack of status”?

The policy on sponsoring “lack of status” spouses or common-law partners includes people who:

  • have overstayed their legal status as a visitor, student, or worker;
  • have studied or worked without immigration status;
  • have come to Canada without a visa or other required documents;
  • have come to Canada without a valid passport or travel document.

It does not include other inadmissibilities such as:

  • failure to obtain permission to enter Canada after being deported;
  • entering Canada with a fraudulent or improperly obtained passport, travel document, or visa and who have used it for misrepresentation;
  • facing a removal order or enforcement proceedings for reasons other than the above lack of status reasons.

To apply for sponsorship as a person without immigration status, the couple must go through the regular Spouse or Common-law Partner in Canada application process.

Learn more about Canadian family sponsorship

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