Family Reunification

Sponsorship of Spouses & Partners

Spouses, Common-Law & Conjugal Partners

Family reunification is one of the main objectives of the Canadian immigration system. Canada makes it possible for citizens and permanent residents to reunite with their close relatives by sponsoring them. Currently, a sponsorship application may be submitted on behalf of the following family members:


  • Spouses/common-law partners/conjugal partners
  • Dependent children
  • Parents and grandparents
  • Other relatives if the Canadian sponsor has no family in Canada and no relatives, mentioned above, who could be sponsored from overseas (known as the "Lonely Canadian" category)

If sponsoring a spouse or partner, the applicant must be either legally married to the sponsor, have accumulated a minimum of 12 months of residency together or be unable to get married or live together due to a certain legal impediment or other circumstances beyond the applicant's control.


To be approved as a sponsor, a Canadian citizen/permanent resident must meet certain eligibility criteria. Upon submission of sponsorship application, a sponsor undertakes to be financially responsible for their sponsored spouse/partner for 3 years. This undertaking is enforceable from the time an applicant becomes a permanent resident and it cannot be cancelled, despite any changes in the sponsor's employment or personal situation.


Applicants applying for permanent residency as spouses or common-law partners may chose to submit the application under the Family Class or under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class. There are pros and cons to each of these streams. It is crucial to understand the possible legal consequences of choosing one process versus another. In some cases, applicants may benefit from being able to work for any employer in any occupation in Canada while going through the immigration process, and in some cases, they would be losing appeal rights, depending on the process.


In spousal/common-law/conjugal partner sponsorship, it is important to prove on the basis of evidence that the relationship is genuine and was not entered into primarily for the purposes of immigration. As such, it is important to submit a well-prepared case for the immigration officer to have a clear picture of the couple's relationship and be able to assess genuineness. One should not underestimate professional advice given during the sponsorship application, as a mere mistake or misunderstanding of rules and regulations by the applicants may end in the exclusion of their family members from being sponsored in the future. The stakes in such a process are high, since even genuine married couples may be separated for years because of a mistake, omission or simple inability to convey the nature of their relationship to the processing officer based on the facts and handpicked documentary evidence.

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