Spousal sponsorships are a frequently accessed program of the family class of permanent residency applications. Both Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents can sponsor a spouse to come to Canada. Spouses, under the spousal sponsorship program include married couples, common law partners and conjugal partners. Same sex relationships that fall under these three categories also apply for spousal sponsorship to Canada. In addition, engaged people (people planning to marry but not legally married) cannot apply under the spousal sponsorship program until after their marriage.

What Relationships Are Recognized For Spousal Sponsorship?


Legal marriages indicate that someone is your spouse. For a marriage to be legal, you must have a marriage certificate issued by the province (or territory) where you were married if the marriage was in Canada. If the marriage was outside of Canada, then the marriage must be legal according to the country where the marriage took place. Marriages held in embassies or consulates, must follow the laws of the country that houses the embassy or consulate.

Common-Law Partner

Common law partnerships are defined as people who have been living with one another in a conjugal relationship. The conjugal relationship must have been for at least one year in an ongoing 12-month period. Short absences because one partner was on travel for business or family reasons do not reset the time.

To show common law status for your spousal sponsorship application in Canada, you have to prove, with a common law union statutory declaration, that you and your common law partner have a home together. Some of the factors that demonstrate this include:

  • joint bank accounts;
  • credit cards;
  • joint owners of a home;
  • rental agreements in joint names for your house;
  • rental receipts for rents paid on your home;
  • listing and/or any payment of regular household utilities in joint names;
  • joint management of any and all of your household expenses;
  • the joint purchasing of household furnishings bought together; and/or lastly
  • mail received as individuals or as a couple to the same address.

Conjugal Partners

Sometimes people, by necessity, live separately but are still in a conjugal relationship. Canadian law includes these relationships in the spousal sponsorship class of permanent residency applications.

These relationships are more than physical or sexual in nature. The key factors is a dependence on one another. The relationship must also be long term or permanent in nature. Essentially the commitment to each other is the same as people who live together as a couple or who went through a legal marriage.

Allowances exist for conjugal relationships lasting more than a year  under the Spousal sponsorship rules. Further, legitimate reasons must exist as to why something prevented you from a legal marriage ceremony or living together. These reasons may be legal, such a living in a place that does not allow same sex marriages, or divorces to allow for a new marriage, or related to citizenship in that one party cannot move to the country of the other party.

It is important to note that spousal sponsorships are subject to a two year “probationary” or “conditional” period. In order to deter marriage of convenience, the Canadian government has legislated that a permanent resident status may be revoked if the relationship under the spousal sponsorship does not last for two years from the time of the issuance of the permanent residency. Most importantly, some exemptions exist, so call us for more information.

Eligibility Requirements for Spousal Sponsorship

Spousal Sponsorship Checks

One of the requirements under the program is for medical, background and criminal checks. These checks prevent people who create a risk to Canadians or a drain on Canadians from moving to Canada.

Minimum Age to sponsor someone

A person who sponsors a spouse must be at least 18 years old.

Spousal Sponsorship means Financial Support

Requirements exist for you to have financial responsibility for the spouse that you sponsor. You must show that you are able to do this. There is a three year period where you must have this responsibility. Spousal sponsorships that result in the sponsored spouse seeking financial support from the Canadian government may result in the person who sponsored the spouse being barred from sponsoring anyone else.

Other Spousal Sponsorship Limits

There are other limits on Spousal Sponsorship. You cannot sponsor a spouse who is under 16 years old. In addition, if someone sponsors you into Canada under this program, then you do not have the ability to sponsor a new spouse into Canada within 5 years of becoming a permanent resident. Other restrictions exist under this program, so make sure you call us for details.

Lawyers Who Can Help You With Spousal Sponsorship

The process to apply for spousal sponsorship overwhelming. You always want to ensure that you do it right. A failed application can limit your ability for your spouse to get permanent resident status. Our experienced legal team helps you and your family ensure that your application is properly put together prior to submitting it. It is extremely important to keep in mind that any misstating anything on any immigration application includes serious potential consequences. Our team understands this. Therefore, we ensure the proper drafting, completion and filing of your application, this allows you the best likelihood of a successful outcome.

Contact a member of our experienced legal team at Kahane Law Immigration Legal Service in Calgary, Alberta. Call 403-225-8810 or toll-free from anywhere in Canada at 1-877-225-8817, or email us directly here.

More Information

In addition, you may download our PDF brochure for more information & pricing on our Spousal Sponsorship legal services:  Kahane Law – Spousal Sponsorship.pdf