Understanding Canadian Spousal Sponsorship

Understanding the Canadian spousal sponsorship is important for the success of the process.

Canadian citizens and permanent residents have the opportunity to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner for immigration to Canada.

If the application is successful, the sponsored person is granted permanent resident status, allowing the couple (or family, if applicable) to establish their lives in Canada.

As of September 2020, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is speeding up the process. ‘It has increased the number of decision makers on spousal applications by 66%, aiming to expedite processing times and reduce waiting periods for couples.

The spousal sponsorship Canada program falls under the Family Class category, which facilitates the admission of a significant number of new permanent residents to Canada every year.

If you are interested in this pathway to permanent residence, either as the sponsor or the sponsored person, there are several important factors to consider:

Civil Status

Your civil status, whether you are legally married or in a common-law relationship, affects the sponsorship process.


Both the sponsor and the sponsored person must be living in the same location at the time of the application.

Sponsor’s Status

The sponsor must be either a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada.

Financial Responsibility

The sponsor must demonstrate the ability to support the basic needs of any dependent grandchildren of the principal applicant.

Quebec-Specific Requirements

If you reside in the province of Quebec, you must also meet additional sponsorship requirements specific to Quebec.

Eligibility to Sponsor Your Spouse in Canada

You can sponsor your spouse or common-law partner for Canadian immigration if you are:

  • At least 18 years old.
  • A Canadian citizen, a permanent resident living in Canada, or a person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act.
  • Able to prove that you are not receiving social assistance for reasons other than a disability.
  • Have sufficient income to provide for the basic needs of any grandchildren (dependent children of a dependent child) of the principal applicant.

Notably, if you are a Canadian citizen living outside Canada, you must intend to live in Canada when your spouse or partner becomes a permanent resident. Permanent residents living outside Canada cannot sponsor someone.

Additional Points to Consider

  • Waiting Period: If you were sponsored by a spouse or partner, you cannot sponsor someone else until five years have passed since you became a permanent resident.
  • Financial Responsibility: The sponsor is financially responsible for the sponsored person for three years after they become a permanent resident.
  • Genuine Relationship: You can sponsor your spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner if your relationship is genuine and not solely entered into for obtaining immigrant status in Canada.

Defining Spouse, Common-law Partner, and Conjugal Partner for Sponsorship

  • Spouse: A spouse refers to a partner with whom you are legally married, encompassing both opposite- and same-sex marriages.
  • Common-law Partner: A common-law partner is not legally married to you but has lived with you continuously for at least 12 months.
  • This includes both opposite- and same-sex relationships.
  • Conjugal Partner: A conjugal partner is someone who has had a binding relationship with you for at least one year, but could not live with you for certain reasons.
  • It is essential to note that individuals living in Canada cannot be sponsored as conjugal partners.

Spousal Sponsorship Processing Times

Spousal Sponsorship Processing Times

Spousal sponsorship processing times have been a matter of concern. However, to expedite processing, IRCC has increased staff by 66%.

Prior to 2020, processing times were approximately 12 months, though this may vary depending on individual cases.

Check your processing time on IRCC website .

Financial Requirements for Sponsorship

In most cases of spousal sponsorship in Canada, there is no minimum income requirement.

However, the sponsor must sign an undertaking to provide for the basic financial needs of the sponsored person for about three years.

This includes food, clothing, shelter, and other daily living expenses, as well as dental and eye care that are not covered by public health services.

If the sponsored person receives social assistance from the Canadian government during this period, the sponsor becomes financially liable for the assistance.

Note: If the spouse being sponsored has dependent children, and one of those children has dependent children of their own, a minimum level of income must be met in this particular situation.

For understanding the Canadian spousal sponsorship better and move move forward in the process, book a consultation with Jane Katkova and our Canadian immigration experts to make your pathway to Canadian permanent residency clear and easy.