How Canadians can sponsor their spouse from abroad

Shelby Thevenot
Published: December 17, 2020

Most times Canadians need to be in Canada in order to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner for permanent residence, but not always.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) allows Canadian citizens to apply to sponsor their spouses, common-law partners, dependent children and conjugal partners from abroad. However, they have to prove that they will move back to Canada when their sponsored family member becomes a permanent resident.

How they prove that they will move back to Canada depends on their individual circumstances and why they want to return. For example, if the couple wants to move to Canada for work they might support their sponsorship application with a confirmation of employment. If they are looking into daycares or schools they could also submit documents in support of their search. If the couple purchased a home they could send in the land title, or communications with realtors. Every case will be different, and the final outcome depends on the visa officer who is reviewing the file.

Although permanent residents are allowed to sponsor their spouse while in Canada, only people with citizenship status can start the spousal sponsorship process from abroad.

See if you're eligible to sponsor your spouse

Canada is still processing spousal sponsorship applications amid the coronavirus pandemic. Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino recently said that Canada is working to process 49,000 of these applications in 2020. The new immigration levels plan is calling for about 80,000 spouses, partners, and children to be sponsored per year over the next three years. IRCC aims to process new spousal sponsorship applications in 12 months.

Outland vs inland sponsorship

Spouses and common-law partners can either apply for Canadian immigration through Outland Sponsorship or Inland Sponsorship.

Canadians who are living abroad are eligible to sponsor their partner under the outland stream as long as they both intend to move to Canada.

Once applicants are in Canada, they can either apply for inland or outland sponsorship. Only inland applicants are eligible to get an open work permit to be able to work anywhere in Canada while they wait on their application to be finalized. They need to have a valid temporary status, such as a visitor's visa, in order to be eligible for the work permit.

During the coronavirus pandemic, immediate family members are exempt from travel restrictions. They do not need an essential reason to come to Canada as long as they are staying for at least 15 days and they complete the mandatory quarantine requirement. Depending on which country they are from, foreign national partners will need a valid Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) in order to enter the country.

See if you're eligible to sponsor your spouse

© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Visit to discover your Canadian immigration options.

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