Canada family sponsorship: The difference between Inland and Outland spousal sponsorship

Julia Hornstein
Published: April 17, 2023

If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and are married or in a relationship with a foreign national, you may sponsor that person to join you in Canada and become a permanent resident.

Sponsor your family for Canadian immigration

You may sponsor a spouse, a common law partner or a conjugal partner either through Inland or Outland sponsorship.

Inland Sponsorship

Inland sponsorship is an option when your spouse or partner is living with you in Canada.

In order to be eligible for Inland sponsorship, the sponsored and sponsored must meet the following requirements:

  • The sponsor must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • The sponsor and sponsored person must be at least 18 years of age
  • The sponsor must not have sponsored someone else in Canada in the five years prior to the current application
  • The sponsor and sponsored person must not be in prison, charged with a serious offence or is bankrupt

Furthermore, the sponsor and sponsored person must be in one of the following types of relationships:

  • 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.

It should be pointed out that if you are in a conjugal relationship, Inland sponsorship is not an option for you. Outland sponsorship is the only option available to you as conjugal relationships are not eligible under Inland Sponsorship.

Inland sponsorship applications are for spouses or partners will valid temporary status in Canada either as a visitor, student or worker. The sponsored person will continue to be able to live, study or work in Canada while the sponsorship application is being processed.

The sponsored person may also be eligible for an open work permit, meaning they can work full-time in Canada, while their sponsorship application is being processed.

It is important to note that the sponsored person is expected to remain in Canada while their application is being processed. If the sponsored person plans to leave Canada or must be able to travel while the application is being processed, Outland sponsorship may be a more suitable option.

Outland Sponsorship

Outland sponsorship is an option when your spouse or partner is not living with you in Canada, and instead are foreign nationals living abroad. If your spouse or partner is unable to apply for sponsorship inside Canada or does not reside in Canada at the time of the application, Outland sponsorship is likely the only sponsorship option available to you.

In order to be eligible for Outland sponsorship, the sponsor and sponsored person must meet the following requirements:

  • The sponsor must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • The sponsor and the sponsored person must be at least 18 years of age
  • The sponsor must not have sponsored someone else in Canada in the five years prior to the current application
  • The sponsor or sponsored person must not be in prison, charged with a serious offence or is bankrupt.

Furthermore, the sponsor and the sponsored person must be in one of the following types of relationships:

  • 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.
  • Conjugal partnership: you have been in an ongoing and committed relationship for at least 12 months but due to significant factors beyond your control, such as an immigration barrier or marital status, you cannot live together.

Outland sponsorship allows the sponsored person to travel to and from Canada during the application process, so it may be the best option if the sponsored person’s work or personal situation requires them to travel outside the country.

Sponsor your family for Canadian immigration


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