The first step to sponsoring your spouse for Canadian immigration is to make sure you are eligible.
Are you a Canadian citizen, or permanent resident? Are you over the age of 18? Can you financially provide for your spouse, any dependent children, and yourself?
These are some of the basic questions that determine your eligibility. From here, things get a little more specific. For instance, you can sponsor your partner from outside Canada — but only if you have citizenship status. You also have to show in your application that you plan to settle in Canada when your spouse gets permanent residency status. Permanent residents cannot sponsor their spouse from outside of Canada.
Next comes the money talk. You cannot be receiving social assistance for reasons other than a disability. However, if you’re receiving maternity, parental, or sickness benefits, you may still be eligible to sponsor. Other benefits such as employment insurance and federal training allowances are not eligible sources of income.
In most cases, there is no minimum income cut off for sponsoring spouses, common-law partners, and children. There are very specific instances where you must meet a low-income-cut-off score, which are determined by the government each year. Generally, it only applies if the partner you’re sponsoring has a dependent child who also has a dependent child of their own.
Certain circumstances could make you ineligible to sponsor. Beyond violent criminal offences, you could also be ineligible for non-criminal reasons. Perhaps you failed to pay an immigration loan, are going through bankruptcy and not discharged, or if you sponsored a previous spouse within three years of your application. These are just some of the factors that could affect your eligibility to sponsor.
Also, if you were a sponsored spouse now turned Canadian permanent resident, you cannot sponsor a new spouse within five years of your landing.
Once you determine that you are eligible, the next step is to make sure that your partner is admissible to Canada.
Your spouse must be over the age of 18, and pass background, security, as well as medical checks.
The government department that processes immigration applications, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), will check to see that your spouse is admissible. People with criminal convictions are generally not allowed to come to Canada, but there may be options to overcome criminal inadmissibility.
The immigration officer handling your file will also want to see that you and your partner are in a genuine relationship. They generally want to avoid admitting people who are just getting married for the sole purpose of getting Canadian permanent residency status.
If your Filipino partner is living in the Philippines during the sponsorship process, you will be considered outland applicants. Again, it is possible for Canadian citizens to live in the Philippines throughout the process, but you have to show that you and your partner will both move to Canada if you are approved for permanent residency.
IRCC changes these guidelines regularly. The documents required for foreign nationals will depend on residency status, where they are applying from, and maybe even your travel history. The government provides an application guide with more specific and up-to-date information.
The specific instructions for documents are available on IRCC’s documents checklist. To give an example of what documents your spouse from the Philippines would need, here is what the IRCC checklist said at the time this article was written.
Firstly, unlike some other countries, there are no additional forms required for residents of the Philippines. There are special instructions, however, for the documents that are required. Keep in mind, these document requirements are subject to change.
Birth certificates need to be the original certifications issued by the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA) and printed on PSA paper. The spouse being sponsored, also called the “principal applicant” and all children included in the application must submit this document. Any death certificates necessary must also be issued by the PSA and printed on PSA paper.
If there is no record of birth registration with the PSA, or it was registered late meaning the registration date is more than one month after the date of birth, IRCC will want to see some other proof of identity. IRCC will accept copies of any of the following documents but may request originals for verification: baptismal certificate, hospital or medical birth record, permanent elementary and high school records, old passports, or the birth certificate issued by the local civil registrar.
If you were married in the Philippines, you will need the original marriage certificate issued by the PSA, and printed on PSA paper. If you are not married to your Filipino partner, they will need a Certificate of no record of marriage, or a PSA Advisory on Marriages, providing details about any previous marriages registered in the Philippines.
If there are any discrepancies between the documents and the principal applicant, IRCC asks for a sworn affidavit explaining the discrepancies.
For any births, deaths, or marriages outside the Philippines, the documents will depend on whether it has been registered with the PSA. If so, you need to submit the registration document issued by the PSA and a copy of the certificate issued by the issuing country. IRCC’s documents checklist will have more specific information on what other documents might be needed for that country.
However, if the birth, death, or marriage has not been registered with the PSA, IRCC may request the original copy of the document for verification. Again, each country will require different documents, and IRCC’s checklist will have the most up-to-date information.
Philippine nationals and residents travelling with children are also responsible for respecting the Philippine government’s travel requirements, when they eventually come to Canada.
The processing begins once IRCC receives your complete application. If the department determines that your application is incomplete, it will be returned.
IRCC has a 12-month processing standard on spousal sponsorship applications. In March 2021, Canada expanded its family-sponsorship processing capacity to help meet this one-year standard.
During the processing period, IRCC asks for biometrics and a medical exam from the foreign spouse. You will have 30 days to send them in. IRCC may also ask for more information or an in-person interview at any time.
You can track and update your application status online until IRCC makes a decision on your application. IRCC will send you instructions about the final steps the foreign spouse or common-law partner needs to take to become a permanent resident.
The last step is to complete the landing process. After that, you have officially immigrated to Canada.
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