The Canadian immigration system allows citizens and permanent residents to sponsor a foreign spouse for permanent residency. This initiative is part of the IRCC’s wider Family Reunification program that enables Canadians to sponsor their parents, grandparents, spouses, common law partners, and other dependents.
According to the IRCC, there were 69,685 admissions for spouses, partners and children in 2021, with a 95% approval rate for applications.
What are the requirements to sponsor a spouse in Canada?
There are certain eligibility requirements to sponsor a spouse. These include:
- The person should be at least 18 years old.
- The Sponsor must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
- The Sponsor must also be living in Canada or prove that they plan to live in Canada when the sponsored spouse becomes a permanent resident.
- The Sponsor should not receive social assistance for reasons other than a disability.
- The Sponsor should be able to provide for their spouse.
An individual can also be disqualified from sponsoring a spouse if they are:
- still responsible for a previous spouse or partner that they sponsored
- awaiting a decision on a prior application for sponsorship
- in jail, prison or penitentiary
- in debt from an immigration load, performance bond or court-ordered family support payments.
- Convicted of attempting, threatening or committing a violent criminal offence, or sexual offence inside or outside Canada
What documents will you require to sponsor a spouse in Canada?
The IRCC document checklist describes all the supporting documents you’ll need for the application.
Documents required from the Sponsor
- Photocopy of a permanent resident card or Canadian citizenship of the Sponsor
- A Canadian birth certificate, passport, a citizenship certificate of your child, if you and your foreign spouse have children together
- If you are working in Canada- you will need a letter from your employer stating your period of employment, salary, and regular hours per week.
- Self-employed individuals will need either a Notice of Assessment with total Income or a Proof of income statement issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
- If you are not working in Canada- you will need to provide documentation showing you can support the person you’re sponsoring
Supporting documents for your foreign spouse
- A Photocopy of the most recently issued passport or travel document issued by their country.
- If your spouse resides in Canada, they need a copy of a temporary resident visa, study or work permit to prove their status.
- Birth certificates
- Depending on their country of origin, they may also need a copy of their national identity card or family booklet.
- Police certificates from the country where your spouse spent the last six months
Civil status documents
- You and your spouse must provide a marriage certificate that proves that your union is legally recognized.
Proving your relationship to immigration officials
Immigration authorities are very thorough during this process to avoid any case of fraud or forced marriages. The onus is on you and your spouse to prove the authenticity of your relationship. Below are some evidence you can submit as proof.
If you and your spouse are not living together in Canada
- Proof of Contact: You will need documented evidence of contact between you and your Sponsor. This can be a letter, printed text messages, emails or social media conversations.
- Proof of your spouse’s visits, such as airline tickets, used boarding passes or photocopies of your passport showing entry-exit stamps.
If you and your spouse are living together in Canada
- Proof of joint ownership of residential property
- Rental agreement with both you and your Sponsor listed as the occupants of a rental property
- Proof of joint utility accounts, joint credit card accounts, or joint bank accounts.
- Vehicle insurance showing a shared address
- Copies of government-issued documents showing the same address (driver’s licenses)
- Other documents issued to you or your Sponsor showing the same address.
You may also need other evidence beyond these documents to support your claim. It can include photos of your wedding, customary celebrations, engagement and outings with descriptions of each image.
What is a letter of explanation?
A letter of explanation is a statement that can be submitted along with a Canadian spousal sponsorship, study permit or work permit application. It can be used to explain a missing document or address questions or queries that an application may raise.
Is a Letter of explanation required for Canadian Spousal sponsorship?
A letter of explanation is not mandatory for your sponsorship application. You won’t find any mention of it in the IRCC checklist.
However, it is good practice to use every tool at your disposal. A well-written Spousal sponsorship letter can go a long way in convincing immigration officials of your relationship’s authenticity.
Your letter of explanation should support the documents and proof you furnished during the application process. This letter can be written by you- the Sponsor, or by other family members who can attest to your relationship.
It can include key details like descriptions of the relationship, statements about the couple, shared experiences and contact information for immigration officials.
Proving the authenticity of your relationship is the final hurdle when applying for spousal sponsorship. This article should help you create a compelling case for your spouse and help them immigrate to Canada.