The Spousal Sponsorship is one of the most common kinds of immigration application. These deceptively simple-looking applications can be full of hidden problems.
There are three subclasses of Spousal Immigration. In each case, the task is to prove to an Immigration Officer that the Spousal relationship is motivated primarily by natural love and affection, and not for Immigration purposes.
In other words, Immigration must be convinced that your spouse is moving to Canada so that you can be together; not that you are together so your spouse can move to Canada.
A citizen of Canada or Permanent Resident of Canada can apply to Sponsor their spouse, Common-Law Partner or Conjugal Partner. Permanent Residents must be living in Canada during the Sponsorship process, but Canadian citizens can be residing outside Canada and still make the Sponsorship application, as long as the Sponsor satisfies Immigration that he or she will return to Canada when the Application is approved.
It is necessary to properly document the history and depth of your relationship in order to satisfy Immigration Canada. Each class is open to same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples.
The first subclass is the Married category. Not surprisingly, the pre-requisite is that the parties must be married and in a committed spousal relationship. The Sponsor, who must be a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada, must sign an undertaking (a type of legal promise) to financially support the Applicant for a period of three years. If the Applicant were to go on any form of social assistance from either the provincial or federal government, the government involved could require the Sponsor to repay any monies advanced. This obligation extends to social welfare but not medical costs or ordinary debts.
The second subclass is the Common-Law Partnership. Common-Law Partners are two persons who cohabit in a marriage-like relationship for a minimum period of twelve months. The period of cohabitation must be continuous, meaning that it is not possible to satisfy the twelve-month minimum period by adding together 2 or more shorter periods, even if totaled they add up to more than twelve months. For example, a couple (such as two University students) who live together from every September to May, but live apart during the summer when the applicant returns to his home country, would not be considered a Common-Law Partnership, even though over a 4-year period they would have spent a total of 32 months together. There must be 12 months of continuous cohabitation.
For further information see our article on Common-Law Relationships.
The third category is Conjugal Partnership. This is a difficult category to satisfy. In its essence, it is a common-law relationship where the parties have been in a marriage-like relationship of some permanence, except they have not been able to live together for the minimum one year. Immigration usually requires proof of attempts to be together, such as Visa applications, in order to be convinced. In practice, Immigration Canada restricts this category to persons who have not been able to live together for some legal reason, such as laws in the country of residence that prohibit people from living together outside of marriage.
In each case it is necessary to provide photos of you and your spouse together on outings and at any wedding or commitment ceremony. Testimonials from important friends and family describing the true and genuine nature of your relationship are very helpful. In all cases, evidence that the two of you have mingled your financial affairs through joint bank accounts, joint obligations or ownership of property, is very important.
A Spousal Sponsorship is one of the few applications that can be filed in Canada or outside Canada. A little-known fact is that if you and your spouse live in Canada, you have the choice of filing an In-Canada Sponsorship or an Out-of-Canada Sponsorship. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method, and which is the best choice for you depends on many factors best discussed with an experienced immigration lawyer so you can make the right decision.
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