What happens after you apply to sponsor your spouse for Canadian immigration?

Shelby Thevenot
Published: September 30, 2022

After you apply to sponsor your spouse or common-law partner for Canadian immigration, you may wish to track the progress of your application, update your application, or otherwise communicate with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). There are also some important steps you must take before you can finally become a permanent resident of Canada.

After applying you could be waiting a long time for permanent residency. The processing standard for new spousal sponsorship applications is 12 months. However, IRCC's own processing time calculator is estimating inland applications are taking an average of 15 months, and outland applicants are taking about 24 months.

Sponsor your family for Canadian immigration

IRCC's webpage states that processing begins on the day your complete application is received. When officials determine that your submitted application is complete, you will get an acknowledgement of receipt (AOR) and an application number. IRCC says on its webpage that it has been taking a long time to issue AORs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If IRCC officials will return your application if it is incomplete or fees are missing.

Here is what you can expect between the time you submit your application and the time you officially become a Canadian permanent resident.


IRCC will first examine the Canadian sponsor's eligibility. If all the forms and documents are present, IRCC will send an email or letter confirming that the application has been accepted for processing. IRCC will then asses the sponsor's eligibility and send an email or letter containing the decision.

If the sponsorship undertaking is approved, IRCC will send the application for permanent residence to the appropriate processing office. IRCC will then decide whether the person being sponsored is eligible for permanent residence.

If the undertaking is refused, IRCC will explain why in an email or letter.

Quebec residents

If you live in Quebec and are applying for spousal sponsorship, the foreign spouse must complete and sign the Demande de sélection permanente – Catégorie du regroupement familial (Application for permanent selection – Family reunification class) form. This document must be enclosed with the sponsor's undertaking application to the Quebec government.

If the Government of Quebec approves the undertaking application, they will send IRCC the information needed to process your permanent residency application.


Once the Canadian spouse or common-law partner is found to be eligible, IRCC will send you (or your authorized representative) an AOR with your application number on it.

The application number allows you to link your application to your IRCC secure account. This way, couples can communicate with IRCC and get updates and messages about their application online.

During the processing, IRCC will ask you to submit your:

  • medical exams;
  • police certificates; and
  • biometrics.

Medical exams

All foreign national family members (who are not already a Canadian citizen or permanent resident) need to pass a medical exam, even if they are not applying to come to Canada with you. IRCC says failure to declare and have family members examined will affect your application, and your ability to sponsor them in the future.

IRCC will send you and each family member a request to complete a medical exam at an appropriate time in processing. It will contain instructions about what to do. You might not receive it right after applying, as medical results expire and IRCC might ask you to do them at a later time to reduce the chance of having to redo a medical exam.

If you have already completed an immigration medical exam, you must provide details in the “medical examination” section of your document checklist. Depending on when the exam was done, you may have to do it again.

Police certificates

Immigration applicants age 18 years of age and older must provide a valid police certificate for any country other than Canada in which you spent six or more months in a row since the age of 18.

If the original certificate isn’t in English or French, you must get an accredited translator to translate it and include both the police certificate and the original copy of the translation.

IRCC will also do its own background checks to see if there are reasons why you or your family members may not be admissible to Canada.

For more specific and up-to-date information, IRCC offers a guide on where to get a police certificate.


When the biometrics fee is paid, IRCC will send your family members a letter asking them to give their biometrics. Family members must show this letter when they give their biometrics. They have 30 days to give their biometrics in person at their closest collection point. IRCC recommends booking biometrics appointments as soon as possible to avoid delays.

IRCC will send instructions to let your family members know how much time they have to send in their biometrics.

Open work permits for inland sponsorship applicants

If you are applying for immigration from within Canada, you may be eligible for the Spousal Open Work Permit. This work permit allows you to work anywhere in Canada while your permanent residency application is in processing. You can either submit your application for an open work permit together with your application for permanent residence, or after you apply.

IRCC says the application for an open work permit is normally processed in four months.


If an interview is needed, IRCC will tell you in writing. IRCC will give you the date, time and location of the interview, and provide you a list of documents to bring.

During an interview, an officer may ask you, the principal applicant, about your:

  • relationship with the sponsor
  • education level
  • reasons for immigrating
  • plans and preparations
  • family
  • health
  • financial situation
  • past difficulties with the law

IRCC may also ask questions that will be used to evaluate your means to settle in Canada.

Once PR is approved

To allow IRCC to finish processing the application once it is approved, you need to send in the following documents for all who are immigrating to Canada, including any dependent children:

  • passports or photocopies of passports (IRCC will let you know which)
  • two photos
  • proof of payment for the right of permanent residency fee, if it hasn't already been sent.

IRCC will let you know where to send this information.

If the spouse being sponsored or any dependents are outside Canada, IRCC will send them a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and a permanent resident visa (if required) once their application is finished processing. Once received, you will be able to travel to Canada and meet an officer at a Canadian port of entry before these documents expire. The officer will make the final decision to allow your family members to enter Canada as permanent residents.

If you are inside Canada, you have to meet an immigration officer to receive your COPR. IRCC will send you a letter to schedule your appointment and tell you what documents to bring. The officer will make the final decision on your permanent residency application.

Sponsor your family for Canadian immigration

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

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