Did you know that there are two categories of Canadian spousal sponsorship? Depending on if your spouse is currently residing in Canada, you can apply for either inland or outland sponsorship

Family Class Immigration makes up the second biggest stream of Canadian immigration, which should come as no surprise considering how important family is when choosing to leave your home country. However, did you know that there are two categories to choose from when sponsoring? Both inland and outland sponsorship allow your spouse to come to Canada, and knowing the difference can help you make an informed decision when looking to sponsor. As of December 2016, Canada has vowed to improve its spousal sponsorship processing times, with most applications for both inland and outland now being processed within 12 months.


There is one major difference between inland and outland sponsorship: where your spouse is currently residing. If you are a Canadian permanent resident or citizen looking to sponsor someone who is not currently living in Canada, then you can apply for the outland sponsorship stream. A downside to using this stream is that until your application has been approved, living with your spouse may be difficult. However, your spouse can apply for a temporary visa to come to Canada while his or her outland sponsorship application is being processed if they choose.


Conversely, if your spouse or partner is currently residing in Canada, you can apply for inland spousal sponsorship. In order to qualify for this stream, the spouse requires some form of valid temporary visa to be in the country. One key benefit to this stream is that your spouse may be eligible to apply for an open-work permit while their spousal sponsorship application is being processed. This allows them to work anywhere in the country in almost any field while waiting for their application to be approved. Also, as of December 2014, spouses looking to apply for the open work permit are looking at faster processing times than before.


There are currently three different relationship categories that exist for spousal sponsorship: marriage, common-law, and conjugal. Depending on the kind of relationship, you may have different requirements in order to have your application accepted.


When looking to sponsor a spouse, you must provide the visa officer with valid marriage documents. If you do not have any children and have been married for less than two years, you are also required to maintain the relationship for at least two years following the application. If the relationship is not maintained for the required time, the sponsored spouse may have their permanent residency revoked. This can be waived in certain cases where spouses can demonstrate abuse or neglect from their partners.


A common-law relationship is when you and your significant other have been continuously residing together for a year or longer. Small employment, travel and family breaks are allowed, but most of the time spent together must be in a combined household. Providing receipts, joint bank account information, and documents proving that both parties live at the same address (driver’s licenses, insurance, etc.) are very important when convincing the immigration officer that you are in a common-law relationship.


A conjugal relationship requires that you have been in a continuous, committed relationship for at least a year. The main difference from a common-law relationship is that you are not required to reside with one another. This can be due to significant barriers that are preventing you from living with each other, such as immigration barriers, cultural reasons or sexual orientation. When applying, it is important to be able to demonstrate to the visa officer that these barriers exist and are the main reason that you are incapable of cohabitation. Also, due to the nature of the relationship, you are only allowed to apply for outland sponsorship.


During the application process, it is important to note that no matter what relationship you may have, there is no one document or piece of information that will guarantee sponsorship. The final decision is always in the hands of the visa officer reviewing your application. The most important thing that you need to prove is that you are both in a loving and committed relationship. Providing a comprehensive file with pictures, receipts and other things that are not easy to fabricate can go a long way to successfully obtaining spousal sponsorship. With many cases of immigration fraud that take place throughout the world, visa officers have an incredibly important job of keeping fraudulent relationships, such as “marriages of convenience,” away from Canada.

With that being said, we have supplied a guide to help applicants avoid common mistakes that may cause the visa officer to refuse your application. It is far too often that spouses are not granted sponsorship because they accidentally withheld information from their visa officer. With years of experience, using a certified immigration attorney can give you ease of mind and help you properly prepare to avoid mistakes that can make or break your application. Contact us today to learn more!

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