Guide to Canada Family Class Sponsorship Program for Canadian citizens residing outside Canada

The Canada Family Class Sponsorship is a popular Canadian immigration program. It is available for Canadian citizens and permanent residents residing in Canada. In addition, the program facilitates citizens of Canada living outside the country and requires a Canadian spouse visa or common-law partner visa. It is for those who want to return and live in Canada as a couple or family unit. A Canadian citizen can sponsor their non-Canadian spouse, common-law partner, or children requesting a Canada spouse visa for him/her and accompanying dependents.

If you are a Canadian citizen and living in the UK or any other country? Are you looking for a Canadian spouse or a common-law partner visa? Herein, you’ll find useful information on the family class sponsorship program. You will learn about provisions to sponsor family members on a permanent basis.

If you are a Canadian citizen living outside Canada and want to reside in Canada with your family. It is possible to sponsor and submit a family class application without returning to Canada until the sponsorship and visa application process are complete.

The program is part of Canada’s family reunification policy. It is a great initiative of the Government of Canada to keep families together.

The children of couples applying for family class sponsorship may also qualify for Canadian citizenship. The children will be subject to meeting separate proof of Canadian citizenship requirements.

What are the key Family Class requirements to sponsor a spouse or common-law partner to Canada on a permanent basis?

The Canadian immigration law offers three provisions via the family sponsorship program. These provisions are for applying for Canadian visas for non-Canadian citizens. These are:

Spouse: Member of opposite or same-sex married to you (husband/wife).

Common-Law Partner: Member of the opposite or same-sex. He/she must be living with you in an exclusive relationship. In addition, you both must live together for a continuous period of at least one year.

To apply for common-law partner immigration, it is critical to provide substantial evidence. You must provide the following documents as proof to meet the requirements:

  • Jointly operated bank/credit card account

  • Jointly having own home/ property on Tenancy Agreements. (in case of living in a rented home)

  • Jointly registered utilities (gas, telephone, and electricity connections)

  • Additional official communications mailed to the same address as individuals or jointly.

Conjugal Partner: A conjugal partner is a person who has been in an exclusive relationship with the sponsor. But, he/she could not live with the sponsor for a continuous period of one year. They may not live together due to marital status, immigration, social or religious barriers, or sexual orientation.

To apply as a conjugal partner, you need to provide documents or proof. The couple must explain that you could not live with each other or marry the sponsor despite having a conjugal relationship.

What exactly is a Canadian Spouse Visa / Canadian Common law Visa?

The Canada Spouse Visa and Canadian Common law Visa are issued by the Canadian government. It facilitates entry to Canada for a spouse/conjugal partner/common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

Who can apply to sponsor a Canadian Spouse Visa?

  • The sponsor must be at least 18 years of age;

  • A sponsor must be a Canadian permanent resident living in Canada or a Canadian citizen;

  • The sponsor cannot be in prison, bankrupt, under a removal order. He/she must also be not charged with a serious offense;

  • The sponsor cannot have been sponsored to Canada as a spouse within the last 5 years.

What documents are required to be issued with a Canadian Spouse Visa?

  • If married in Canada, a Marriage Certificate from the province where the couple got married

  • Proof of marriage inside or outside Canada. If you married outside Canada, the marriage must be legally valid according to Canadian law. The certificate must also be valid in the country where you got married.

  • Proof of marriage if held in an embassy/consulate. The marriage must be legally accepted in the concerned embassy/consulate.

  • Confirmation that you intend to reside in Canada once your spouse/common-law partner/conjugal partner acquires permanent resident status. This is an essential requirement for sponsors who are not living in Canada at the time of applying for a visa.

  • Both the sponsor and the person being sponsored must sign the agreement. This is to confirm that they both understand and abide by mutual obligations and their responsibilities.

  • The sponsor must sign an agreement as a pledge. The agreement is to undertake and provide for the basic needs of the sponsored person.

  • Demonstration of the authenticity of the relationship with the sponsored person. It must show that the person is immigrating to Canada to join the sponsor and not any other person.

The following documents may be required to demonstrate the authenticity and genuine nature of the relationship:

  • Marriage certificate

  • Proof of communication via phone calls, email, chat, letters, and others

  • Photos of the partners together

  • Documents of Joint agreement including bank accounts, credit cards, ownership or lease agreement of properties.

Additional Information for applicants interested in a Canada Spouse Visa

  • The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has eliminated the Conditional Permanent Residence for sponsored spouses and partners of Canadian citizens, as of 28 April 2017. Prior to rule elimination, the sponsored spouse or partner had to live with their sponsor for two years. IRCC will continuously monitor sponsored relationships to identify marriage/relationship frauds or otherwise. IRCC will also impose a bar on marriage or sponsoring someone else for five years.

  • IRCC on 7 December 2016 declared important modifications to speed up Canada’s spousal sponsorship application process. These are being introduced to reduce the processing time within a period of 12-month time frame. But, there may be some complex cases that require a longer processing time.

Pahl & Associates has been submitting family class applications for Canadian citizens residing in the UK for 15 years. We have listed below the most common questions we receive regularly regarding Canadian Family Sponsorship applications.

FAQs on Family Class Sponsorship

How long does IRCC take for the application processing?

Generally, the processing time may vary from 6-12 months or more. This is based on the nature and complexity of each case.

The Canadian immigration department IRCC is proactive in dealing with the family class sponsorship applications. In our experience of 15 years in processing Canadian immigration applications, we have found that generally, it takes around 6-9 months for Canadian High Commission in London to complete the procedures.

There may be delays in evaluating some complex cases. The delays may also occur due to receiving a large volume of applications within a specific season.

Is it mandatory to get married to get a Canadian spousal visa?

Yes, it is mandatory to get married to be eligible for a spouse visa or you must meet the requirements of a common-law partner. You must provide an authentic marriage certificate as a valid document with an application to support your marital status. Marriage license or solemnization documents are not acceptable.

What if I apply for a common-law partner visa?

You can apply for the common-law partner visa without getting married. However, it is mandatory to prove that you were in cohabitation with your partner for at least one year. In our recent experience, we have noted that IRCC is adopting a strict threshold. IRCC assesses and requires in-depth documentary evidence to confirm the validity of the common-law relationship.

What are the consequences if I am not able to provide some of the required documents?

You may have the required documents. Do your best to find equivalent credentials to strengthen your application.

You may be able to furnish the required documents. In this case, you must give a valid explanation as to why you do not have the documents. This may also lead to delay. IRCC may need to interview you prior to a decision being made.

Is it mandatory to provide police clearance and medical examination reports upfront?

If you are submitting your application whilst residing in the UK or anywhere outside Canada. Police certificates will need to be provided upfront when the application is submitted. However, the medical will be requested a few months after the application submission.

What could cause delay after a Canada Spouse Visa has been submitted?

  • Contact information on file (address, telephone, email) is outdated;

  • Further documents requested as and they weren’t submitted on time, or at all;

  • Your dependant (s) turned 18 since you applied;

  • You added dependant (s) to your application since you applied;

  • Your dependant(s) got married and/or had children of their own since you applied;

  • You provided legal documents to confirm a change to your marital status, or about child custody;

  • You or your family member need to resubmit a medical exam because one expired. The medial exams for every person must all be valid at the same time;

  • You or a family member need to appear for an interview;

  • You or a family member might not be eligible;

  • Background checks are still in progress for you or your family members.

For whom do I need a medical examination and police clearance certificate?

The applicant and dependent child (if any) including accompanying and non-accompanying will need to complete medicals. Whereas the police certificates are essential for applicants and dependants who are 18 and over.

Can my application be refused?

IRCC follows a thorough screening process to evaluate each application. It is therefore mandatory to prove the authenticity of your relationship. You must have sufficient documents or explanations to prove your relationship is genuine. A right of appeal exists if you submit the application from outside Canada.

Are same-sex couples eligible for Family Class Sponsorship?

Yes, there is a provision for same-sex couples to apply for family class sponsorship. Having accepted the LGBTQ community, Canada Government offers several privileges for same-sex immigration.

Is it necessary to attend an interview?

An interview is not a mandatory part of the immigration process or visa issuance. In most cases, if you furnish enough documents supporting the application, there’s no need to attend an interview.

However, in some special cases, IRCC may request you to attend an interview. It’s is to investigate the authenticity of the relationship status.

Is it essential to seek legal representation for your Canada Spouse or Common Law Visa application?

The simple answer is that it is not mandatory to appoint a legal representative. However, you may experience some complexities within Canadian immigration law. This process may leave you confusing if you are not familiar with Canadian immigration rules and procedures..

Pahl & Associates’ expertise in representing UK-based clients with Family Sponsorship applications extends beyond 15 years. We are here to help you through these procedures and the necessary paperwork. We are passionate about our goal to assist families from the UK move to Canada with minimal stress.

We strongly recommend that you read our testimonials to gauge our level of expertise and professionalism. Our client reviews have always been our best form of advertising!

It is important to note that this article is for general information only. The immigration laws are always subject to change. We are a UK-based, CICC registered company. You can contact us for advice if you are not sure about the eligibility criteria.

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Please feel free to contact us for free no-obligation consultation via email or by phone on  0345 055 9861.

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