Valentine's Day is one of the most popular days of the year for people to get engaged. And even for those who decide not to pop the big question this February 14th--or who already have--Valentine's Day remains an annual celebration with that certain someone you love the most.
For some of these couples, that might also mean considering sponsoring their Spouse, Common Law or Conjugal Partner to Canada under a Family Class Visa application, an application that earns Permanent Residency for your significant other.
When sponsoring your significant other to Canada, the first thing to consider seems obvious: is your relationship genuine? Are you really in a relationship; really married; really in love. If you can honestly answer 'yes' to those questions, then sponsorship could be for you. If you answer 'no', then you should think carefully before proceeding, as these are the same questions the Canadian government will be asking when they review your application, and there are punishments for anyone caught misrepresenting the facts of their application.
Next you need to determine whether you are eligible to sponsor. To be able to sponsor someone you need to be: over the age of 18; a Canadian citizen, registered Indian or Permanent Resident; and not in receipt of social assistance. For citizens living outside of Canada, you need to show evidence that you plan to live in Canada when your partner becomes a Permanent Resident. Permanent Residents who wish to sponsor someone must be living in Canada; they cannot sponsor someone if they are also living outside of the country themselves.
Now that you have confirmed that you are eligible to sponsor, you need to confirm whether your partner is eligible to be sponsored. To be eligible, the person you want to sponsor must be your Spouse, Common Law or Conjugal Partner.
Your Spouse is someone to whom you are legally married. This marriage can have occurred inside or outside of Canada; if outside Canada, you need to ensure that the marriage laws in the foreign country do not violate any marriage laws in Canada (for instance: laws applying to age). A Common Law is someone to whom you have a relationship nearly identical to marriage--you have lived together for at least a year, share responsibilities like car payments, mortgage, maybe even have a child together. Again, you just aren't married. A Conjugal Partner is again someone with whom you share a marriage-like relationship, but in this case you have been unable to marry or live together due to circumstances out of your control, such as reasons of religion, sexual orientation, or immigration barriers.
If you have confirmed that you are both able to sponsor and be sponsored, then the next question and final aspect I will discuss here, is whether to file an inland or overseas sponsorship.
You can file an inland sponsorship if both the person sponsoring and the person being sponsored are in Canada at the time they submit the application. The benefit of sponsoring inland are that the person being sponsored can remain in Canada for the entire processing of the application, and can also apply for an open work permit to work in Canada while they wait for a decision (the open work permit option is currently a pilot program, and may be discontinued). The drawback of this application is that there is no appeal option if the sponsorship is refused.
An overseas application (which to be clear also includes the USA) means that the person being sponsored is outside of Canada for the duration of processing (this isn't law, but immigration officers are hesitant to let anyone visit Canada who also has an ongoing sponsorship application). However, a refused application can be appealed.
Both an inland and overseas application have an average processing time of 12 months or less.
Does any of this apply to you? Not engaged yet but planning on proposing soon? Been living with someone for a year and want to make things more permanent? Contact me today and we can go through the process.
This blog discusses the general process of sponsoring your spouse, common law or conjugal partner. It is meant as a guideline only and absolutely does not detail every aspect of an eligible sponsorship. It also does not completely apply to the sponsorship of parents, grandparents or dependent children.