On-line sweethearts, the new norm?

Sponsoring your sweetheart

Do you have a special someone across the globe?

Is distance keeping you apart from your Valentine? Have you heard about the Canadian Spousal Sponsorship Program?

With the increasing use of online dating apps these days, it is becoming more common that individuals are meeting one another from around the world on various platforms available. However, due to strict immigration rules, individuals find it somewhat challenging to be re-united with their significant others.

To counter this challenge, Canada, has a pathway available for Canadian citizens and even permanent residents (PRs) to apply to bring their foreign national spouse or common law partner into Canada under a family class sponsorship. If their spouse is already in Canada, they can sponsor them under a similar program, so they may reside with together permanently.

Who can sponsor?

Some of the eligible criteria to sponsor your foreign spouse includes:

• The sponsor must be a Canadian citizen or PR

• The sponsor must be at least 18 years old

• The sponsor must reside, or intend to reside, in Canada

• The sponsor must file an application to sponsor a spouse or common law partner

Who can be sponsored?

If you’re married you can sponsor your spouse if your marriage is a legally valid civil marriage.

If you’re in a common law relationship you can sponsor your common law partner (regardless of gender) as long as you’ve been living with your partner for at least 12 consecutive months in a marriage-like relationship immediately prior to submitting your application.

Does your foreign spouse have dependent children under the age of 22?

No problem, they can be included in the application to sponsor as long as you have consent from the other parent.

Is it a genuine relationship?

Under a spousal sponsorship, one of the most important factors is to prove to Canadian Immigration (IRCC) your relationship is genuine.

There are many ways to satisfy proof of genuineness to IRCC, some of which include, but are not limited to, joint bank account statements, utility bills, phone bills, rental agreements, joint ownership of property, photographs and text messages or emails, etc.

The process

A spousal sponsorship can be made from inside or from outside of Canada by filing an online spousal sponsorship application with the appropriate forms and supporting documentation.

It is important to know that, as a sponsor, you are obligated under a sponsorship agreement to undertake to support the sponsored spouse, for their basic necessities, from the day they become a PR for a duration of three years and any dependent children under the age of 22 years old. Your obligation is for 10 years or until they reach the age of 25, whichever comes first.

One commonly question during the application process is, if my spouse is in Canada are they permitted to work? The short answer is yes.

Once a couple has submitted their spousal sponsorship application, the foreign spouse is permitted to submit an application for an Open Work Permit (OWP). Once this OWP is approved, they can start working right away.

Another common question is, can I travel while my spousal sponsorship application is processing?

The short answer is it depends on a few factors, such as did you apply for the spousal sponsorship application from within Canada or outside Canada? Have you applied for the OWP? Who are you travelling with? How long are you going for? Does your foreign spouse require a visa to enter Canada or simply an electronic travel authorization (eTA)? Will you be travelling by air or driving?.

As you can see, there are many things to consider. Before leaving on that holiday outside of Canada, you may want to visit locally instead.

What are the estimated current application processing times?

Between nine and 12 months. Keep in mind once you have submitted your application, there may be visa options that may be available to you, so your love may be able to travel to Canada to visit you.

IRCC’s take?

IRCC says it supports family reunification as a strong pillar to Canada and is committed to supporting the reunification of spouses and common law partners in Canada, especially in todays’ fast-paced world, where individuals are meeting each other from across the world.

We understand navigating the Canadian Immigration system can be a difficult and somewhat confusing process; therefore, we suggest, individuals contact an immigration lawyer to be provided proper information with respect to their individual situation or circumstances. This information is provided for general informational purposes only. It is not meant to be used as legal advice for a specific legal problem. Please note application processing times are correct as of the date of writing and are based on straight-forward applications.

Jasmine Somal is a Canadian immigration lawyer at Ocana Law ([email protected])

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