Sponsor Your Spouse Outside Canada

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Spousal Sponsorship Outside CanadaThomas is a Canadian citizen who travels a lot to the United States. While in the States two years ago, he met Janet. They dated a couple of times. When Thomas returned home, he continued his distant relationship with Janet. They eventually fell in love. Consequently, Thomas proposed to Janet, and she accepted. They registered their marriage in Las Vegas six months ago. However, Janet currently lives in the US and must stay a few more months to wrap up her business. Regardless, Thomas prefers to initiate the sponsorship process. He hopes to sponsor his spouse while she is outside of Canada. Eventually, they hope to live together in Canada.

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 outside Canada. In this article:

Note: If you want to sponsor your conjugal partner, click here.

Who is an eligible sponsor?

If you intend to sponsor your spouse from outside 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 outside Canada. Of course, continue reading the rest of this article for more information on some of these requirements.

Residing in Canada

If you intend to sponsor your spouse, who is outside Canada, you must reside inside Canada. In other words, although your spouse is outside Canada, you must remain in Canada while sponsoring them. Of course, you may travel to visit your spouse. However, keep the durations short to avoid disrupting your residency.

If you are a Canadian citizen, you may remain outside Canada while you are sponsoring your spouse. However, you must convince the immigration officer, you will go back to Canada when your spouse becomes a permanent resident (practitioners see R130(2)). For example, you need to show you have plausible job prospects in Canada. Unfortunately, this option is not available to permanent residents.


When you sponsor your spouse to Canada, you agree to a three-year undertaking. The undertaking process begins when your spouse lands as 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 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 the children is a bit confusing, and it depends on the age of the child at the time of landing (practitioners see R132(1)(b)(ii) and (iii)).

  • under 15 at the time of landing: for ten years from landing
  • between 15 and 22 at the time of landing: by the time they become 25
  • 22 or more at the time of landing: for three years from landing

Criminal convictions

If you have certain criminal convictions, you may not sponsor your spouse from outside 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 outside 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 make sure you are discharged.

Social assistance

You may not sponsor your spouse from outside 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 outside 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 outside Canada if you meet all the following requirements:

  • Being a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner of the sponsor
  • At the time of application, you are at least 18 years old.
  • If you are a spouse, none of the following situations apply to you (not applicable to common-law partners):
    • At the time of marriage with the sponsor, either you or the sponsor were the spouse of another person.
    • 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 applies to you, meaning:
      • You entered the relationship primarily to become a permanent resident of Canada, or
      • Your marriage is not genuine.
  • You are admissible to Canada

Definition of a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner

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

Absence from the marriage ceremony

This prohibition applies to spouses only. If you are immigrating as a sponsored spouse from outside 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)).

Bad faith

There is no doubt that in any spousal sponsorship application from outside Canada, the applicant thinks about living in Canada. However, if the primary reason for the marriage 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,

  • 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
  • Cohabitation documents such as joint property lease agreements or similar addresses on bills or government-issued documents
  • Photos of you on different occasions
  • Documents showing your wedding reception or ceremony, etc.
  • Financial transactions between both of you
  • Having a child that you are both the biological parents or adopted
  • Email exchanges, chat history, phone call history, etc.

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. 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.

The application process to sponsor your spouse who is outside Canada

If you are sponsoring your spouse who is outside 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
  3. Submit the complete package on paper to the Central Intake Office (CIO) in Sydney, Nova Scotia (subject to change):
    • By mail:
      • CPC Sydney
        P.O. Box 9500
        Sydney, NS
        B1P 0H5
    • By courier services:
      • CPC Sydney
        49 Dorchester Street
        Sydney, NS
        B1P 5Z2
  4. The CIO officer reviews the application for completeness and approval of the sponsor.
  5. If they approve the sponsor, they will forward the application to the local Visa Office responsible for the country of the applicant. Also, they usually request a medical examination from the applicant at this stage.
  6. The officer of the local Visa Office reviews the application for the approval of the applicant. Of course, they may request supplementary documents. They may even interview the applicant or the sponsor or both.
  7. If they approve the applicant, he or she may travel to Canada and become a permanent resident of Canada.

The right to appeal

Generally speaking, you have the right to appeal if the officer refuses the application. However, under certain circumstances, you may lose this right. Contact us if your application has been refused. However, remember that you have limited time to appeal the adverse decision of an immigration officer on your spouse sponsorship application outside Canada.

Contact us!

If you want us to help you with the process of sponsoring your spouse or common-law partner, please fill out the following form:

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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?

    NoYesI don't know

    Please provide more explanation below:

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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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    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.