How Canada is modernizing the submission system for spousal and common-law partner sponsorship programs

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: October 22, 2022

In a bid to improve client service, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is completely digitizing the application submission process for Canada’s inland and outland spousal and common-law partner sponsorship programs.

Until September 23, 2022, IRCC had previously allowed online applications to be submitted for permanent immigration programs like spousal sponsorship but also gave applicants other methods of applying for these programs. Now, inland and outland spousal and common-law partner sponsorship applications will only be accepted online.

Sponsor your family for Canadian immigration

According to the IRCC, turning to an entirely online system “gives clients more flexibility to apply from their devices and allows them to receive immediate confirmation that they have successfully submitted their application.” This will be facilitated through the already-active Permanent Residence Portal, which has already allowed some immigration hopefuls to submit their applications for other programs online since March 31, 2021.

Note: Applicants requiring accommodations and unable to use the online system, can contact IRCC to request an alternative submission format. If no such request, any applications that are not submitted online after the transition dates (more on that below) will be returned to applicants.

Eligibility for spousal and common-law partner sponsorship programs

To be eligible as a sponsor under either the outland or inland spousal and common-law partner sponsorship program, you must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident living in Canada, or a person registered under the Canadian Indian Act
  • Live in Canada or be planning to return to the country
  • Not be receiving social assistance for reasons other than a disability
  • Be able to provide for your basic needs, those of your spouse or partner and, if applicable, those of dependent children
  • Be able to support your spouse/partner financially
  • Ensure that your spouse/partner will not require social assistance from the government

Additionally, the individual coming to Canada through the sponsor must be at least 18 years old and pass all required background, medical and security checks.

The application process for spousal and common-law partner sponsorship programs

Prior to applying for spousal or common-law partner sponsorship, ensure that both parties involved in the application (the sponsor and the dependent applicant) meet all eligibility criteria.

Also, keep in mind that applying for spousal and common-law partner sponsorship requires two applications to be submitted at the same time: one from the Canadian sponsor to in fact sponsor their spouse/partner as well as the dependent’s permanent residence application.

Now, you are ready to begin the four-step application process. Applying to sponsor a spouse is a four-step process:

1. Go online to the Canadian government website to find the application package, which contains detailed instructions on how to properly complete the application

2. Pay the online application fees, which include:

  • A processing fee for all persons included in the application
  • A “Right of Permanent Residence” fee
  • Biometrics fees
  • Other third-party fees, if applicable

3. Submit your application through Canada’s Permanent Residence Portal by following the submission instructions provided in the guide you downloaded

4. Submit the required supporting documents when prompted

So that covers Spousal and Common-Law Partner Sponsorship. Now, what about the other permanent residence-based immigration programs?

IRCC has provided the following schedule for when each Canadian permanent immigration program/category will follow suit with Spousal Sponsorship by transitioning to an online-only application system.

September 23, 2022: Provincial nominee program (non-Express Entry); Quebec-selected skilled workers; Sponsoring a spouse or partner; Sponsoring a dependent child; Sponsoring an eligible relative; Sponsoring an orphaned sibling, niece or nephew, or grandchild; Adopting a child through the immigration process; Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot

October 7, 2022: Quebec-selected investors; Quebec-selected entrepreneurs; Self-employed people (Quebec)

October 14, 2022: Agri-food pilot; Start-up visa; Temporary resident permit holders applying for permanent residence

October 21, 2022: Home Support Worker Pilot; Home Child Care Provider Pilot (reopens to new applications on January 1, 2023); Humanitarian and compassionate grounds; Self-employed people (federal)

October 28, 2022: Atlantic Immigration Program

Sponsor your family for Canadian immigration

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