Immigrating to Canada with a partner 

Things to know before moving to Canada with your Partner

Canadian immigration policy is very accommodating. A partner won’t impede a candidate’s chance of being approved for immigration and permanent residency. On the contrary, having a highly qualified partner can be beneficial in some cases. 

What is Canada’s attitude towards spouses and common-law partners? 

Canada is known for its recognition of Civil liberties and Human rights. The Freedom in the World 2022 report rated Canada- ‘free’ with a total score of 98/100 (Political rights 40/40, Civil liberties 58/60). The rating is based on various factors like Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights; this includes personal social freedoms like the choice of marriage partner, family size and protection from domestic violence. 

What are the different ways for couples to immigrate to Canada? 

The IRCC offers several ways for Couples to immigrate to Canada. This includes: 

  • Family Class and ‘Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class.’  
  • Applying for Canadian Express Entry with a spouse/ partner. 

What is Sponsorship? 

A sponsorship is a pathway for foreign Spouses, common-law partners and conjugal partners of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to become Permanent residents. 

Who is eligible for sponsorship? 

To be eligible for this program, the applicant must: 

  • Be over the age of 18 
  • Be a Canadian citizen/ permanent resident 
  • Reside in Canada. Citizens outside Canada must commit to living in Canada when their sponsored partner becomes a permanent resident. 
  • Not receive any social assistance for reasons other than a disability,  

You must also be able to prove that you can financially provide for 

  • yourself, 
  • your spouse/ partner, 
  • your spouse/ partner’s dependent child (if applicable) 

The person you’re sponsoring must be either: 

  • Your spouse or a common-law partner who lives with you in Canada and any dependent children. 
  • Your spouse, a common-law partner or a conjugal partner who lives overseas and any dependent children. 

How to apply for sponsorship? 

Applications for spousal sponsorship are made online by filling up an application package.  

Relationship conditions to be eligible for this program 

Sponsorship requires your partner to be one of three things. A spouse, a common-law partner or a conjugal partner. The conditions that need to be followed for each are listed below: 

  • You can sponsor your spouse under Spousal sponsorship if: 
    • Your civil marriage is legally valid 
    • Opposite and Same-gender marriages will be recognized if: 
      • It is legally performed in Canada 
      • It is Legally recognized in the country where the marriage took place 
    • Marriages performed outside Canada through the following means- proxy, telephone, fax and Internet, are not recognized by the IRCC 
  • You can sponsor a common-law partner if: 
    • You have lived or are living with your partner for at least 12 consecutive months. 
  • You can sponsor a conjugal partner if: 
    • There is a significant degree of attachment. This implies a physical and mutually interdependent relationship. 
    • You’re both been in a genuine relationship for over 12 months, but marriage or cohabitation is impossible because of external barriers like religion, homophobia etc. 

Who qualifies as a Conjugal Partner? 

The IRCC’s definition of a conjugal partner is a person of the opposite or same gender as the sponsor who fulfils the following criteria: 

  • The person must reside outside Canada 
  • The person must be in a conjugal relationship with the sponsor for at least a year 
  • There are external barriers that prevent them from living together as a couple. 

What are the obligations of a Sponsor? 

A sponsor must sign an undertaking to financially support the basic needs of the sponsored spouse or partner. 

The basic needs that fall under this obligation are: 

  • Food, clothing, shelter and daily necessities. 
  • Dental care, eye care and health needs that aren’t covered by the public health services. 

What is the length of this Undertaking? 

The undertaking is in effect for three years, from the day the sponsor’s spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner becomes a permanent resident. 

Can you be disqualified from sponsorship? 

The Canadian government’s site has a complete list of all the criteria that disqualify you from Spousal sponsorship. 

The law forbids you to sponsor a spouse or partner if: 

  • You are signed to an undertaking for a previous spouse/ partner, and three years haven’t passed since they became permanent residents. 
  • You haven’t paid back social assistance received by someone you previously sponsored. 
  • You are defaulting on an immigration loan or performance bond. 
  • You failed to pay court-ordered alimony and child support. 
  • You declared bankruptcy 
  • You have or are convicted of a sexual offence, a violent crime, an offence against a relative resulting in bodily harm or threatened to commit any of these offences. 
  • You are under a removal order or in a penitentiary, jail, reformatory and prison. 
  • You already have a pending application for your current spouse/ partner. 

What are the documents required to prove a relationship? 

The application kit requires the sponsor to provide certain documents to confirm the authenticity of your relationship. The complete list of all the necessary documents for sponsorship under each class can be found on the IRCC portal

What is the cost of sponsoring a spouse or partner? 

The complete fee structure for sponsoring a spouse or partner is as follows: 

Fees   CAN$ 
Sponsorship fee ($75), applicant processing fee ($490), right of permanent residence fee ($515)  $1,080 
Sponsor a dependent child  $150 per child 
Biometrics (per person)  $85 
Biometrics (per family)  $170 

How many couples were granted Permanent Residency through this route in 2021? 

According to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration’s (CIMM) Key message on May 12, 2022, Canada’s family class program, responsible for the sponsorship of spouses, common-law partners, dependent children, parents and grandparents, granted permanent residency to over 80,993 individuals in 2021. 

Can you immigrate to Canada with a partner through Express Entry? 

Yes, the popular Express Entry program, which includes the Canadian Experience Class, The Federal Skilled Worker Program and the Federal Skilled Trades Program, is notable for allowing candidates to apply with their spouse or common-law partner.  

How are Couples scored in the Comprehensive Ranking System? 

In the case of couples, one partner is assigned as a Principal Applicant (PA). 

The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score is based on the Principal Applicant’s Core/ Human capital factors (460 points) + Spouse/ Common-law partner’s factors (40 points) for a maximum of 500 points. 

If a candidate applies for Express Entry without a partner, their Core/ human capital factors alone account for a maximum of 500 points. This ensures that couples do not have an undue advantage on CRS points. 

The complete explanation of the points system is available on the IRCC’s portal. 

What is the cost of applying for Express Entry with a partner?

Applying with a partner is more expensive than as a single applicant. According to the IRCC portal, the fees are as follows: 

Fees  $CAN 
Principal Applicant’s Processing fee ($850) + Right of Permanent residence fee ($515)  $ 1,365 
The spouse/ partner’s Processing fee ($850) + Right of Permanent residence fee (515)  $ 1,365 
Fee for a dependent child (if applicable)  $ 230 

Family class applications have been on their way up. There’s renewed interest as the covid-19 restrictions start to fall off. Service standards are being normalized to 12 months for new applications, and the department is being modernized to tackle the growing number of family-class applications. This includes the introduction of a Permanent Residence Digital Intake portal in 2021, digital case status trackers and the use of Advanced Analytics.  

The process of immigrating with a partner is more seamless than ever. Opportunities abound, with Canada aiming for 105,000 new permanent residents through the Family classes and 241,850 through the Economic classes, including Express Entry, in 2022. 

Immigrated with a partner or possess rare insight on Canadian immigration? We’d love to hear your opinion on the topic. Feel free to share with our community and contribute to helping newcomers with your own experiences. 

Janggoulal Sitlhou

Janggoulal Sitlhou

Janggoulal Sitlhou is a content writer with SettleCanada. He is a Political Sciences graduate and a keen follower of international affairs and contemporary history. He has a background in publishing and regularly dabbles in writing and game development projects. Janggoulal currently writes on issues related to Canadian Immigration.