Canada believes in strong family systems and supports families that wish to reunite in Canada. If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident living away from your family, take advantage of Immigration Canada’s accelerated 12-month processing period by sponsoring your spouse or common-law partner for Canadian permanent residence.  You can sponsor your husband, wife or common-law-partner even if they are abroad or are living in Canada with a valid, temporary visa. Applicants who are living in Canada may also qualify for an open work permit, giving couples the chance to relieve some of their financial burdens.

A spousal open work permit will give sponsored individuals the ability to work in Canada while their sponsorship application will get processed. Since Canada recognizes common-law partnerships, you may be eligible to apply for spousal sponsorship if you and your partner are not married but have been living together for a period of at least one year.

Who Can Be Sponsored?


A spouse can be either sex and must be:

  • Legally married to the sponsor.
  • At least 18 years old.


Common-Law Partner


A common-law partner can be either sex and must:

  • Be not legally married to the sponsor.
  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have been living with the sponsor for at least 12 consecutive months in a conjugal relationship without any long periods apart.


Proof of a common-law relationship includes:

  • Shared ownership of residential property.
  • Joint leases or rental agreements.
  • Bills for shared utility accounts.
  • Important documents showing the same address, such as driver’s licenses or insurance policies.
  • Identification documents.

Conjugal Partner

A conjugal partner can be either sex and must:

  • Be not legally married or in a common-law relationship with the sponsor.
  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have been in a relationship with the sponsor for at least 1 year.
  • Live outside Canada.
  • Be not able to live with the sponsor in their country of residence or marry the sponsor because of significant legal and immigration reasons, such as marital status, sexual orientation or persecution.

Who can apply for Spousal/ Common-Law-Partner Sponsorship?

To be eligible for spousal or common-law partner sponsorship, you must:

  •       be 18 year of age, a Canadian permanent resident living in Canada or Canadian citizen,
  •       demonstrate that you can provide for the basic needs for yourself and your spouse or partner,
  •       Prove your relationship with the sponsored person is genuine by providing supporting documentation.

To be eligible for spousal or common-law partner sponsorship, the sponsored person must be at least 18 years of age and not too closely related to you.

Types of Applications:

There are two types of spousal or common-law sponsorship applications:

Inland Application

If the person you wish to sponsor is currently in Canada, you opt for inland application. This type of sponsorship allows applicants to continue to live in Canada while their application for permanent residence is being processed.

If the application is made from within Canada, we can apply for an open work permit for your spouse/ common law partner that would allow them to work for any employer in Canada while the sponsorship application is being processed. It is also a possibility that spouses or partners can come to Canada by first applying for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV).

Outland Application

In this case, the person you are sponsoring and who resides abroad will normally wait for permanent residence outside of the country but may visit you in Canada.

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.

Income Requirement

In most cases, there is no income requirement to sponsor a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner.

Sponsors only need to show they meet income requirements if sponsoring a spouse or partner that has a dependent child, and their dependent child has 1 or more children of their own.

Sponsorship Obligation

In the case of a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner, a sponsor is required to sign an undertaking to reimburse the federal or provincial governments from the date in which they become a permanent resident for the period of three (3) years.Sponsors remain obligated to the undertaking agreement for the entire period of the contract, even in a change of circumstances such as marital breakdown, separation, divorce, or a financial change in circumstances.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • 1. How long does it take to Sponsor Your Spouse in Canada?

    Sponsorship applications take about 12 months to process. But they can take longer, depending on the nature of your case. If you have a complex case, or the visa office requires additional proof of your relationship, this will delay the processing of your case and it will take longer. The best way to ensure your sponsorship application is processed as quickly as possible is to make sure it is done right the first time. We would love to assist you in bringing your loved ones to Canada. Call Us / Take our free online assessment today!

  • 2. What are the basic requirements to Sponsor Your Spouse in Canada?

    You may be eligible to sponsor your spouse or common-law partner if you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and meet the following conditions:

    • Are at least 18 years old
    • Live in Canada, or planning to return to Canada once your spouse or partner becomes a permanent resident of Canada
    · Are able and willing to provide for the basic financial needs of your spouse or partner for three years

  • 3. How Much Money do you need to Sponsor Your Spouse to Canada?

    Unlike most other forms of Canadian sponsorship, you do not need to demonstrate a minimum amount of income to sponsor a spouse. However, whenever you sponsor a family member to Canada, you must sign an undertaking, in which you promise to provide financial support for the basic needs of your sponsored family member. The length of the undertaking depends on the category of sponsorship. For spousal sponsorship (including spouses and common-law or conjugal partners), the length of the undertaking is 3 years from the day the sponsored individual becomes a Canadian permanent resident.

  • 4. What are the main reasons when a sponsorship application is refused?

    In order to be eligible for spousal sponsorship of any kind, you need to prove that your relationship is legitimate. There are several factors that are taken into consideration by immigration officers, depending on the nature of your relationship. Visa officers will consider a range of items to determine if your relationship is genuine. Some of the items they will consider are more traditional, like photos of your wedding that show members or your family there. Others can be more unique to the cultural practices of the region. If your relationship is unconventional, providing additional evidence of the genuineness of your relationship is recommended. Letters of explanation can also help a visa officer understand why your relationship might not have all the same indicators as a more traditional marriage from your cultural background. Be advised that marriage ceremonies that are conducted over the internet are not accepted for Canadian immigration purposes.

  • 5. Do I Get Permanent Residence if I Marry a Canadian?

    No. Simply marrying a Canadian does not automatically give the spouse Canadian permanent residence. Once you are married or in a common-law relationship, you can then apply for a spousal sponsorship. Only after the application for spousal sponsorship is approved, will the married spouse become a Canadian permanent resident.

  • 6. Can my Spouse Come to Canada While Waiting for Approval?

    Your spouse can come to Canada while you are waiting for approval but there is no special visa for applicants awaiting a decision on their sponsorship application. Some spousal sponsorship applicants may encounter difficulties applying for a temporary visa if they have an application for permanent residence already in process. Applicants applying for a temporary residence visa must satisfy the visa officer assigned to their case they will leave at the end of the validity of the visa.

  • 7. Can I Cancel My Spousal Sponsorship?

    You can withdraw your sponsorship application at any time before the person you’re sponsoring becomes a permanent resident of Canada.