Understanding Inland Spousal and Common-Law Partner Sponsorship
Family is one of the primary pillars of Canadian society. Accordingly, Canada has several family sponsorship programs that the country’s citizens and permanent residents (PR) can apply under to reunite with their loved ones.
In fact, among family-class immigrants, Canada seeks to welcome some 80,000 newcomers per year under its Spouses, Partners, and Children category. One program under this category is called Inland Spousal and Common-Law Partner Sponsorship.
This program is for spouses or common-law partners who are legally living together in Canada.
For these purposes, a “spouse” and “common-law partner” are defined as follows:
- Spouse: you are legally married, and your marriage is valid under the law of the jurisdiction where it was registered and under Canadian law
- Common law: you are cohabiting or have cohabited with your partner in a marriage-like relationship for at least 12 consecutive months
General pre-application requirements
Individuals hoping to apply for Canadian permanent residence through inland sponsorship must keep the following in mind:
- Both the sponsor and foreign national must be at least 18 years of age
- Neither the foreign national nor the sponsor may have been sponsored in the five years prior to the submission of their inland sponsorship application
- Neither the foreign national nor the sponsor may be in prison, bankrupt or currently charged with a serious offence
- Both the Canadian sponsor and the foreign national be approved as eligible candidates for inland spousal sponsorship by Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
Requirements for a sponsor
There are several requirements for an individual to become eligible as a sponsor. The sponsor:
- Must not be receiving social assistance for reasons other than employment insurance or disability
- Must show that they have sufficient income or assets to support the spouse or partner once he or she arrives in Canada
- Must not be receiving income support benefits from any province or be in bankruptcy proceedings
For a duration of three years from the day that the inland sponsorship application is approved, a sponsor must:
- Demonstrate the financial ability to provide for their own basic needs, those of the spouse or partner and, if applicable, those of dependent children. Basic needs include housing, including utility bills; food and personal hygiene products; clothing and other items necessary for daily living; medical expenses not covered by public health insurance, such as dental and eye care
- Be able to support their spouse or partner financially
- Make sure the person they sponsor will not require social assistance from the government
Requirements of the foreign national being sponsored
The two key requirements of a foreign national hoping to be sponsored and come to Canada include:
- Holding valid temporary resident status in Canada as a worker, student, or visitor
- Passing all background, security and medical checks
Note: Inland sponsorship hopefuls living in the province of Quebec will have to follow different application steps. Details regarding these steps can be found here.
There are six key steps involved with inland sponsorship applications.
Step 1: The Canadian citizen or permanent resident in the relationship must apply to become eligible to fulfill their role as a sponsor. This application must be sent at the same time as the application for sponsorship of the foreign national spouse or partner and will be included within the application package described in step two
Step 2: Obtain the application package found on the government website; it includes a guide, with instructions and forms as well as a checklist that will help you complete the process correctly
Step 3: Pay all required application fees online (application fees, right of permanent residence fees, biometric fees)
Step 4: Complete and sign all required forms
Step 5: Send your application to the right visa office and mailing address in Canada by following the instructions provided in the guide you downloaded
Step 6: While the application is under review, you may be asked to submit additional supporting documents
Applications for this sponsorship pathway will need to be submitted to a specific mailing address identified by IRCC (provided in the guide mentioned in step one above) and they typically take approximately 12 months to process.
The general expectation is that applicants in this sponsorship stream will remain in Canada during application processing. Should this not be possible for the foreign national applicant, outland spousal and common-law partner sponsorship may be a better option.
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