The Family Class Sponsorship is a popular Canadian immigration program available for Canadian citizens and permanent residents residing in Canada. In addition, the program facilitates citizens of Canada living outside the country to sponsor their non-Canadian spouse, common-law partner or children when they have decided to return and live in Canada as a couple or family unit. If you are looking to obtain a spouse visa for Canada or a common law partner visa for Canada, hopefully, this article will assist you in your endeavours.

Therefore,  if you are a Canadian citizen living in UK or any other country outside Canada and looking to return and intention to reside in Canada, it is possible to sponsor and submit a family class application without returning to Canada until the sponsorship and visa application process has been completed.

The program is part of the family reunification initiative of the Government of Canada to keep the families together whilst application is being processed.

The children of couple applying for the family class sponsorship may also qualify for the citizenship of Canada and passport subject to meeting separate Canadian citizenship requirements.

If you are a Canadian citizen living in UK or any other country, herein you will find useful information on family class sponsorship program and the provisions to sponsor your non-Canadian family members to Canada on a permanent basis.

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

The Canadian immigration law offers three provisions for applying for non-Canadian citizens to Canada via the family sponsorship program:

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

Common-Law Partner: Member of opposite or same sex living with you in an exclusive relationship for a continued period of at least one year.

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

  • 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 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 has not been able to live with the sponsor for continued period of one year or marry due to circumstances such as marital status, immigration, social or religious barriers, sexual orientation, etc.

To apply as a conjugal partner, you need to provide the documents or proof stating the reasons or circumstances you could not live with 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 is issued by the Canadian government and facilitates  entry to Canada to 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;

  • The 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 (if a permanent resident) or charged with a serious offence; and

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

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

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

  • Proof of marriage inside or outside Canada (if married outside Canada, the marriage must be legally valid according to the Canadian law as well as the country where you got married)

  • Proof of marriage if held in an embassy/consulate (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 (for sponsors who are not living in Canada at the time of applying for the visa)

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

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

  • Demonstration of the authenticity of the relationship with the sponsored person, showing strong grounds to state that the person is immigrating to Canada join the sponsor and not any other reason. One or more of the following documents may be required to demonstrate the authenticity and genuine nature of 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, etc

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 the eliminated rule, the sponsored spouse or partner had to live with their sponsor for a period of two years. IRCC will continuously monitor sponsored relationships to identify marriage/relationship frauds or otherwise. It will also impose a bar on marriage or sponsoring someone else for a period of five years..

  • Attempting to speed up the processing of spousal sponsorship applications, IRCC on 7 December 2016 declared that important modifications are being introduced to reduce the processing time with a period of 12-month time frame (except for some complex cases that require 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 on a regular basis  in relation to Canadian family Sponsorship applications


FAQs on Family Class Sponsorship                                                            

How long does IRCC take for the application processing?

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

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

There may be delays in evaluating some complex cases. The delays may also occur on instances of receiving 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 unless me meet the requirements of a common law partner. You will need to provide the authentic marriage certificate as a valid document to support your marital status at the time of application. (Marriage license or solemnization documents are not acceptable)

What if I apply for 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 in assessing 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?

Even if you do not have the required documents, do your best to find equivalent credentials to strengthen your application. In case, you are not able to furnish the required documents, you will have to give a valid explanation on why you do not have the documents. This may also lead to delay and the need to interview 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 were asked to resubmit a medical exam because one expired (exams for every person must all be valid at the same time)

  • you or a family member were asked 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 medical examination and police clearance certificate?

The applicant and dependent child (if any) including accompanying and non-accompanying will need to complete medicals. Whereas police certificates are required 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 explanation to prove your relationship is genuine. A right of appeal exists if the application is submitted outside Canada.

Are same-sex couples eligible for Family Class Sponsorship?

Yes, there is a provision for the 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 majority of the cases, if you can furnish documents in support of your application, there is no need to attend an interview.

However, in some special cases, IRCC may request you to attend an interview in the event of any concern pertaining to 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, based upon the complexities of Canadian immigration law , the process may very well leave you in  a state of confusion if you are not well acquainted with the Canadian immigration rules.

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 necessary paperwork. We are passionate in our goal to assist families from 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 as immigration laws are always subject to change. If you are not sure about the eligibility criteria or just need some up to date advice, we are UK based, ICCRC registered and can help you. Please feel free to contact us for free no obligation consultation via email [email protected] or by phone on  0345 055 9861

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Once we read the testimonials and had some correspondence with Mr. Pahl, we knew we wanted his help in this process. THIS WAS THE BEST DECISION WE COULD HAVE MADE! Mr. Pahl has been invaluable to us during our immigration process and I can’t stress enough how much easier and less stressful he made the whole experience.


I have been to several solicitors before, but Mr Pahl was the only one that steered me in the right direction. As a result of Mr Pahl’s brilliant and thorough advice, I have now obtained the visa that I wanted.


Mr Pahl proved to be a complete asset to securing the successful outcome of my spouse sponsorship immigration process. He made a daunting task manageable with fantastic communication, guidance, support and leadership.



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