Thousands of foreign nationals reuniting with Canadian spouses

Mohanad Moetaz
Published: January 23, 2021

Many Canadians are reuniting with their foreign spouses in Canada after being separated because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Toronto Star.

The pandemic has resulted in a slowdown in the processing of applications for immigration to Canada. In September, however, the federal government announced that it would speed up the processing of spousal sponsorship applications. To this end, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) increased staff responsible for spousal sponsorships by 66 per cent, seeking to process and finalize 6,000 applications every month between October and December 2020.

Canada made considerable progress in making that happen. As reported in the Toronto Star, a total of 15,999 files were finalized throughout that period – 14,816 applications were approved, 837 refused and 346 withdrawn. Two-thirds of the applications were from people outside Canada.

See if you're eligible to sponsor your spouse

Despite these positive developments, processing times still need to be improved. Prior to the pandemic, average processing times were around 12 months. However, processing times of 17 months for overseas applications and 15 months for domestic applications are currently being reported.

IRCC seeks to address this issue by implementing new technologies through such initiatives as a recently implemented pilot project to digitize paper-based applications. That project's goal is to enable staff working remotely to quickly process applications. The immigration department also started conducting interviews with applicants remotely. These initiatives are aimed at accelerating, prioritizing and finalizing more applications – something Canada is on course to achieve.

How to sponsor your spouse to come to Canada

The first step you need to take is to find out if you are eligible to sponsor your spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner to join you in Canada. You must be a Canadian citizen, First Nation or permanent resident to be eligible. You must also be at least 18 years old, and prove that you do not receive social assistance for any reason other than a disability.

In addition, you must be able to prove that you have a financial plan in place that will allow you to meet your partner's basic needs. If you are overseas, you must prove that you plan to return to Canada to live with the person you wish to sponsor.

Your spouse must be legally married to you and be at least 18 years of age. Common-law partners must be at least 18 years old and have lived with you for a minimum of 12 consecutive months. Conjugal partners must be 18 years old at least, have been in a relationship with you for a minimum of 12 consecutive months, reside outside of Canada, and are unable to live with you in their country or marry you due to significant obstacles. For example, if same-sex marriage is not allowed in your home country.

When you established that you are eligible, you will be required to submit two different applications: a sponsorship application, and a permanent residence application.

To get started, you can download the application package from IRCC's website. The next steps will be to pay the required administrative fees and send your final application to IRCC by mail.

See if you're eligible to sponsor your spouse

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