Reuniting with spouse or partner in Canada

Reuniting with spouse or partner in Canada

The family sponsorship program is suitable for those who were not able to immigrate as a family at once or who entered into a relationship with a Canadian while living in their home country.

Family reunification (family sponsorship) programs allow permanent residents and citizens of Canada to invite their family members and relatives to live permanently in the country. One of the options is reunification with a spouse or partner. Under this program, a Canadian resident is required to support their partner for 3 years, and the partner cannot qualify for social assistance from the government. Important: the relationship must be real!

Who can be sponsored

Canada identifies several categories of partners who can be sponsored. They all have to be over 18 years old:

  • a spouse to whom a Canadian resident is legally married;
  • a common-low partner with whom a Canadian resident has been living together for more than a year, but is not married;
  • a conjugal partner with whom a Canadian resident has been in a relationship for more than a year, but is not married and not living together for valid reasons related to the laws of the partner's home country.

If the sponsor and the sponsored person are married, for example, got married in their home country or Canada, a marriage certificate is sufficient.

If there is no legal marriage, proof of living together is needed. This can be a joint rental agreement, shared utility bills, ownership of the real estate, registration at the same address, joint photographs, etc.

In the latter case, when a conjugal partner is sponsored, it is necessary to prove that living together or getting married is impossible. For example, this could be proof of a denial of a long-term stay in the partner's country. Also, the situations when the partner is married and the laws of their country prohibit divorce, or same-sex marriage is prohibited in the country fall into this category.

Who can be a sponsor

For a Canadian resident to become a sponsor, they must meet several requirements:

  • be at least 18 years of age;
  • be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada;
  • permanently reside in Canada;
  • not receive social assistance, except disability benefits;
  • be able to support the needs of the sponsored people.

There are no specific income requirements in most cases. Proof of income is only required if a Canadian resident is sponsoring their spouse or partner who plans to move with their child and grandchild.

In some cases, family sponsorship is impossible. A person cannot be a sponsor if they:

  • are under 18 years of age;
  • are not going to live in Canada in the future;
  • are not a citizen or permanent resident of Canada;
  • have applied for permanent residency, but the application is yet being processed;
  • do not have enough money;
  • were sponsored to immigrate to Canada less than 5 years ago;
  • have already sponsored someone and are still financially responsible for that person;
  • are financially unreliable (do not pay child support, have not paid their immigration loan, are bankrupt, receive social assistance, etc.);
  • have sponsored someone before and have not fulfilled their financial obligation;
  • have a criminal record;
  • have received a deportation order.

How to apply

Two applications are made at the same time: the Canadian resident applies for sponsorship and the spouse or partner applies for permanent residency. You must gather the documents, fill out the form and apply online at the official website of Canada.

The province of Quebec has its own sponsorship requirements and conditions, see Quebec's official website for details.

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