Sponsor Your Spouse or Common-Law Partner Inside Canada

If your spouse lives outside Canada, click here! Otherwise, continue reading or explore available options first. Also, check out the new work permit options

Spousal Sponsorship Inside CanadaLopa is a Canadian citizen who met Suhana two years ago at a party. It was love at first glance. Of course, Suhana was in Canada as an international student then. Soon after a few dates, Suhana and Lopa moved in together. Consequently, they have been living together for almost nineteen months. Suhana’s study permit will expire soon. However, she intends to live with Lopa in Canada for the rest of her life. Lopa has a mutual feeling. Therefore, she wants to sponsor Suhana as her common-law partner. However, she wonders how to sponsor a spouse or common-law partner inside Canada. Lopa doesn’t want to stay away from Suhana while waiting to process their application. 

The sponsorship process allows families to reunite in Canada. Of course, spousal sponsorship is not available to everyone. Here we explore different aspects of sponsorship while your spouse lives in Canada. In this article:

Who is an eligible sponsor?

If you intend to sponsor your spouse from inside Canada, you need to (practitioners see R130 & R131):

You must meet all these requirements, or you may not sponsor your spouse or common-law partner who resides inside Canada. Of course, sometimes you could request approval based on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds.

Residing in Canada

If you intend to sponsor your spouse, who is inside Canada, you must reside inside Canada. Of course, you may travel outside Canada. However, keep the durations short to avoid disrupting your residency.

If you are a Canadian citizen, you could conclude that you have the right to reside outside Canada under subsection 130(2) of IRPR. However, this not an option for inside Canada applications for the following reasons:

  • One of the requirements of inside Canada applications is that the applicant (i.e. your spouse or common-law partner) lives with you in Canada (practitioners see R124(a))
  • The officer could question the application’s genuineness if you reside outside Canada while the applicant is in Canada.


When you sponsor your spouse to Canada, you agree to a three-year undertaking. The undertaking process begins when your spouse or common-law partner becomes a permanent resident. Within those three years, they may not use social assistance. Of course, if they do, you will have to pay the government back. Unfortunately, a divorce or separation does not spare you from undertaking obligations.

If your spouse has a child, then you must extend the undertaking to the child. The duration of the undertaking for children is a bit confusing, and it depends on the age of the child at the time of becoming a permanent resident (practitioners see R132(1)(b)(ii) and (iii)).

  • under 15 at the time of PR: for ten years from becoming a PR
  • between 15 and 22 at the time of PR: by the time they become 25
  • Twenty-two or more at the time of PR: for three years from becoming a PR

Criminal convictions

If you have certain criminal convictions, you may not sponsor your spouse from inside Canada. Generally speaking, the criminal convictions that could affect you include domestic violence, sexual abuse and significant violence towards others. However, in certain circumstances, IRCC may spare you. For example, receiving a record suspension in Canada could help. If the offence was outside Canada and five years have passed from the time you completed your sentence, they could spare you. Please consult with a professional to make sure if exemptions apply to you.


If you file for bankruptcy, you may not sponsor your spouse from inside Canada. However, if you are a discharged bankrupt, then you may proceed. A discharged bankrupt is someone free from paying any debts they had when filing for bankruptcy. Of course, some exceptions apply. The government of Canada has some guidelines to explain this issue. Regardless, I recommend discussing the matter with a bankruptcy professional to ensure you are a discharged bankrupt.

Social assistance

You may not sponsor your spouse from inside Canada if you are receiving social assistance. Section 2 of the Immigration Regulations defines social assistance as follows:

Social assistance means any benefit in the form of money, goods or services provided to or on behalf of a person by a province under a program of social assistance, including a program of social assistance designated by a province to provide for basic requirements including food, shelter, clothing, fuel, utilities, household supplies, personal requirements and health care not provided by public health care, including dental care and eye care.

Regardless of the preceding paragraph, receiving social assistance because of disability does not affect your application.

Five-year ban

Imagine someone sponsors you to Canada as a spouse or common-law partner. Upon a successful process, you become a permanent resident of Canada. Now, imagine your relationship falls apart. In this situation, if you fall in love with someone else from inside Canada, you may not sponsor them to Canada for five years from the day you landed. Of course, this restriction only applies to those people who immigrated to Canada as a sponsored spouse or common-law partner.


If you have already sponsored a spouse or common-law partner to Canada, you may not sponsor another spouse or common-law partner while the current undertaking duration is not over. Consequently, if your previous spouse landed in Canada less than three years ago, you may sponsor the new spouse only when at least three years of the prior spouse’s landing has passed. Regardless, you need to divorce the previous spouse and meet all other sponsorship requirements.

Who is an eligible applicant?

You are an eligible applicant in the process of sponsoring spouses from inside Canada if you meet all the following requirements:

  • Being a spouse or a common-law partner of the sponsor
  • Co-habit with the sponsor inside Canada
  • Have a temporary resident status inside Canada (exemptions apply)
  • At the time of application, you are at least 18 years old.
  • You are admissible to Canada.
  • If you are a spouse, none of the following situations apply to you (not applicable to common-law partners – practitioners see R125):
    • At the time of marriage with the sponsor, either you or the sponsor were another person’s spouse.
    • You have been away from the sponsor for more than one year, and either of you is now in the common-law or conjugal partnership with another person.
    • At the time of the marriage ceremony, one or both of you were physically absent (exceptions apply)
  • None of the following applies to you:
    • When the sponsor was immigrating to Canada, you were spouses, common-law partners or conjugal partners. However, you broke the relationship to allow the sponsor to qualify for immigration to Canada. When the sponsor landed in Canada, you restarted the relationship to initiate the sponsorship application (practitioners see R4.1).
    • When the sponsor was immigrating to Canada, you were a non-accompanying family member. Nonetheless, the immigration authorities did not examine you. For example, you refused to give a medical examination (practitioners see R117(9)(d)). Of course, if the officer deliberately decided not to examine you, this prohibition won’t affect you.
    • Bad faith, meaning:
      • You entered the relationship primarily to become a permanent resident of Canada, or
      • Your marriage is not genuine.

Definition of a spouse and common-law partner

If you are not familiar with these concepts, read one of the following articles:

Please note that for inside Canada applications, only spouses or common-law partners may apply. This option is not available to conjugal partners. Consequently, despite co-habiting in Canada, conjugal partners must apply to an outside Canada case.

Co-habit with the sponsor inside Canada

Co-habitation is a necessary component of Canada’s spousal sponsorship applications (practitioners see R124(a)). Simply put, you and your sponsor must show you live together under the same roof in Canada. Of course, IRCC expects you to provide a few documents to attest to that. For example, consider:

  • A joint lease agreement or property ownership
  • Government-issued records with the same addresses (e.g. driver’s licences or provincial I.D. cards)
  • Utility bills showing both names on the bill
  • Other bills or documents that show similar addresses for both of you

Of course, this list is neither inclusive nor exclusive. However, you must show at least two sets of convincing documents.

Absence from the marriage ceremony

This prohibition applies to spouses only. If you are immigrating as a sponsored spouse from inside Canada, you must show presence at the marriage ceremony. Consequently, IRCC does not accept remote marriages or marriages by proxy. Of course, some Canadian Armed Force members are exempt from this rule. However, even for that group, their marriage must be valid both under the local laws and the Canadian law (practitioners see R117(9)(c.1)). If you are common-law partners, then this requirement does not apply to you.

Bad faith

There is no doubt that in any spousal sponsorship application from inside Canada, the applicant thinks about the privileges of becoming a permanent resident of Canada. However, if the marriage’s primary reason is getting a Canadian status, you have committed Bad Faith (practitioners see R4(1)). Moreover, if the marriage is not genuine, the officer will refuse the application on the ground of Bad Faith. Consequently, you must present several documents to prevent refusal due to this issue. For example,

  • Photos of you on different occasions
  • Financial transactions between both of you
  • Email exchanges, chat history, phone call history, etc.
  • Having a child that you are both the biological parents or adopted
  • Documents showing your wedding reception or ceremony, and so on
  • Letters from friends and family members supporting your genuine relationship
  • Financial dependency documents such as joint bank accounts, property ownership and collective investments
  • Showing trust in each other such as mentioning the other person as your beneficiary in your will or life insurance
  • Co-habitation documents such as joint property lease agreements or similar addresses on bills or government-issued documents

Of course, this list is neither inclusive nor exclusive. Just use it as a guideline. Your immigration practitioner will advise you on how to prepare your package based on your circumstance.

Admissibility of the spouse (the applicant)

If the applicant is inadmissible to Canada, they may not immigrate. They will even lose their ability to stay in Canada as a temporary resident. Visit the following links for more information:

Regardless, the spouses are not inadmissible due to excessive demand.

Family members of the applicant

If your spouse has dependent children, you may also include them in the application. However, they need to meet the definition of a dependent child. Read the following article for more information.

If the applicant’s child has a dependent child, you may also include them in the application. However, in this situation, the sponsor must meet the minimum necessary income. The minimum required income is equivalent to a 12-month-LICO.

Work permit application

For inside Canada spouse or common-law sponsorship applications, you may request a work permit for the applicant. Luckily, this work permit is an open-work-permit. Consequently, upon the work permit’s receipt, the applicant may work in Canada for any employer. You may submit the work permit application at the same time as the sponsorship application. However, you must prepare a separate set of forms and documents for the work permit. Include this set of documents and forms inside the main application package. Also, remember you need to pay the processing fee of $255 for the open work permit and, in some cases, an extra $85 for the biometrics fee.

The application process to sponsor your spouse who is inside Canada

If you are sponsoring your spouse who is inside Canada, follow these steps (the exact steps could vary due to your circumstances):

  1. Collect all the documents and fill out all the forms
  2. Pay the government fees (subject to change):
    • Processing fee: $75 for the sponsor +$475 for the applicant = $550
    • Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF): $500
    • Biometrics fee: $85 (if your spouse has a child who is over 14, then $170)
    • Processing fee for every dependent child of the applicant: $150
    • If applying for an open work permit, the processing fee: $255 and the biometrics fee (if applicable): $85
  3. Submit the complete package on paper to the Case Processing Centre (CPC) in Mississauga, Ontario (subject to change):
    • By mail:
      • CPC Mississauga
        P.O. Box 5040, Station B
        Mississauga, ON
        L5A 3A4
    • By courier services:
      • CPC Mississauga
        2 Robert Speck Parkway,
        Suite 300
        Mississauga, ON
        L4Z 1H8
  4. The CPC-M officer reviews the application for completeness and approval of the sponsor.
  5. If you have applied for an open work permit, they will process it and issue an open work permit upon approval.
  6. If they approve the sponsor, they will continue processing to approve the applicant. Also, they will request a medical examination from the applicant at this stage.
  7. The immigration officer may request supplementary documents. They may even interview the applicant or the sponsor or both.
  8. If they approve the applicant, they may become a permanent resident of Canada by one of the following options:

The right to appeal

Generally speaking, for in-Canada class applications, you do not have the right to appeal. However, you may file for a Judicial Review. Contact an immigration lawyer to assist you with the process. Alternatively, you may apply again.

I live with my spouse inside Canada, but can I apply as an outside Canada case?

When you co-habit with your spouse or common-law partner inside Canada, you have two options to apply:

Currently, the processing time, the right to appeal, and other features of both application types are almost the same. However, with the in-Canada option (i.e. the content of this article), you have the choice of applying for an open work permit. With the outside Canada option, you have the freedom to travel outside Canada. If an interview occurs, you may need to go to the visa office responsible for your home country if you choose the outside Canada option. Please consult with an authorized representative to pick the correct option.

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    Spousal Sponsorship Applications

    Is the sponsor eligible to sponsor his or her spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner?

    NoYesI don't know

    Is the applicant (the foreign national) is an eligible spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner?

    NoYesI don't know

    Have you already submitted the application?

    NoYesI don't know

    Are you facing a refusal or complexities?

    NoYesI don't know

    Are you willing to apply for a work permit?

    NoYesI don't know

    Do you need to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa for your spouse or common-law partner?

    NoYesI don't know

    Are you willing to hire an immigration consultant to help you with your sponsorship application?

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    Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
    Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
    Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
    Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

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    This article provides information of a general nature only. Considering the fluid nature of the immigration world, it may no longer be current. Of course, the item does not give legal advice. Therefore, do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. Consequently, no one could hold us accountable for the content of these articles. Of course, if you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. Alternatively, if you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment.

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    Al Parsai

    This article has been expertly crafted by Al Parsai, a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University. A respected member of CICC and CAPIC organizations, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.