Living away from your family can be emotionally tough, especially for young couples. If you’re struggling through a spousal sponsorship application, you’re not alone in your frustration. Although Canadian immigration is easier than in most countries, the country still sees more than 400,000 applicants every year.
Spousal sponsorship applicants, in particular, are quite high in number. However, the application process isn’t as overwhelming as it may seem. You may file a successful application if you follow the process correctly.
To do this, the first thing you need to do is understand how the application works, especially if your case isn’t straightforward (elaborated on below).
However, the nature of your case becomes irrelevant if you don’t know the application process. Here is a complete guide on the spousal sponsorship applications in Canada:
How Do You Qualify for Canadian Immigration?
Before you can get to the application process, you need to know: do you even qualify for a spousal sponsorship? As mentioned, your case may not be straightforward. Mostly, it’s easier if you’re sponsoring your legal spouse whom you’ve been married to for over two years.
If you’re not legally married to your spouse, your partnership counts as a common-law partnership. Although Canadian immigration accepts common-law applications, many countries don’t. As such, you must ensure whether common-law or conjugal partnerships are legal in your homeland.
Similarly, you and your spouse may be separated or divorced. You might have dependent children, which require you to sponsor your children from previous marriage.
A newly wed couple may also face some extra steps in their case. This is largely due to fraudulent applications. The Canadian immigration system has become stricter in ensuring the authenticity or genuineness of new marriages.
What Documents Do You Need to Prepare?
Usually, the Canadian spousal sponsorship application can take months to process. Most of this time is dedicated to preparing adequate documents. On average, a spousal sponsorship application is between 120 and 150 pages.
These pages mostly include the documents and evidence you’ll need to gather. In the past decade, the process has become more stern and extensive to counter rising fraudulent immigration tactics. As such, it’s essential to verify the authenticity of each document.
If you hire an immigration professional, such as Immigration Consultant, this step is much easier as a professional knows the ins and outs of the immigration process. They won’t miss out on any details or steps. However, you can do it yourself as well and sometimes end up incomplete application returned to you after 3-4 months.
Overall, here are the documents you need:
Before submitting your application, you’ll need identification documents such as passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, national identity cards, and other civil documents. If you or your sponsor have served in the military, you’ll need to present those documents as well.
You may also need to have a police certificate. These certificates simply ensure you or your spouse don’t have criminal histories.
The sponsor must provide evidence of their Canadian immigration/citizenship status. If applicable, they must also submit their work permit and employment information.
You will also need documents proving financial support. For this purpose, money transfers and joint accounts are usually presented as evidence. There simply needs to be a trail to prove that you and your spouse share finances.
Moreover, the sponsor has additional responsibilities. Firstly, they must provide financial proof that they are capable of supporting their spouse if their immigration application is accepted. As such, they’ll need to submit an undertaking, promising full financial responsibility to their spouse.
Proof of Relationship
As mentioned, immigration authorities will check the authenticity of your relationship, especially if it’s relatively new. They assess authenticity in numerous ways. For instance, you may have to ask people you know to submit witness affidavits, attesting to the sincerity of your marriage.
From you and your spouse, they may ask for proof of communication. These documents include text messages, emails, and letters, etc. You may also need to present pictures and videos such as a wedding album.
Other documents will differ, depending on where you live. For example, applicants from Islamic countries will need to submit the ‘Nikkah certificate’, which is the official marriage contract, or marriage Certificates issued by Church or Temple and signed by both parties.
These contracts are usually in the native language and as such, must be translated via a government agency. All documents in another language must be translated into either English or French. The process of translating can be complicated.
It’s better to translate documents through the Canadian embassy. However, if you need an independent translator, you need to ensure their credentials. It can’t be someone you know personally. Once you have the translated documents, verify them through local government offices.
How Does the Application Process Work?
Once you’ve collected all the necessary documents, you can apply in one of two ways. Firstly, you can submit an online application. Alternatively, you can mail a physical application package. Both ways have their pros and cons.
For example, online applications are more convenient than mail-in ones. Similarly, mail-in applications have shorter wait times than online ones.
Here are the main steps in both processes:
1. Receive the Application Package
Of course, you can’t do anything without the application package. You can either get the application package online or at your local Canadian embassy. However, make sure that the package has all the essential items.
All in all, every sponsorship application has two parts. Firstly, there’s the sponsorship application, which must be filled by the sponsor. Secondly, there’s the permanent residence application, which is for the sponsored spouse.
Your application package will include these forms. Moreover, the package will also include a document checklist and guide. These items are very helpful, especially if you’re not using a lawyer.
You must read the guide very carefully to ensure you don’t make any mistakes. Also, if you don’t understand something from the process, consult someone immediately.
2. Consider Hiring a professional such as an Immigration Consultant.
it’s not necessary to hire a lawyer or an immigration consultant. You can easily apply yourself. However, there is some advantages in having professional help. For example, if you don’t understand a portion of the application, an expert may be useful.
As a sponsor, you can look for Canadian immigration lawyers or consultants. Although they can be costly, they may provide invaluable help.
3. Double Check All Information
The next step is to fill in the application and double-check all information. Whether or not you have a lawyer, you need to double-check each portion of the application. Firstly, you must check spellings and numerical mistakes on your names and identification numbers.
Secondly, you need to ensure all parts of the application are filled. If a portion does not apply to you, you must write N/A (not applicable). Also, all writing must be clear and concise. For instance, if your family members have written affidavits, there must be no irrelevant information.
Lastly, if you’re submitting physical documents, make sure they are neat and legible. Many applications are sent back due to them being unreadable.
4. Pay Your Application Fee
If your application is ready for submission, you can go ahead and pay the application fee. This fee is nonrefundable so only move forward with this step if you’re sure the application needs no further edits or addendums.
In the spousal sponsorship process, you must pay around $1135 Canadian dollars. This amount includes the application processing fee ($475), sponsorship fee ($75), biometrics fee ($85) and right to permanent residence fee ($500).
Lastly, you may also need to pay for miscellaneous application requirements. For example, some countries require payments for police verifications and medical exams.
5. Submit the Spousal Sponsorship Application
Finally, you can submit your application. For physical applications, the instructions are specified in the package guide. You can courier the package to Canada or use normal mail services.
However, keep in mind, your application doesn’t begin processing until it reaches the relevant offices. Therefore, any delays in the mail time will also delay your processing time.
You should also remember that your application may be returned if there are missing components. Moreover, they may ask you for additional documents as they begin the process. For instance, they can ask for medical exams.
All these things may delay your outcome, so it’s better to anticipate all documents. However, make sure all certificates are valid. In some countries, police and medical certificates are only valid for up to one year once issued.
What to Do if Your Spousal Sponsorship Application Is Refused?
Now, you know how the spousal sponsorship process works. However, your application can be refused for various reasons. You need to watch out for the common mistakes that can get your case rejected.
Rejected applications may not necessarily be your fault, though. Instead, it may be the IRCC’s mistake. Many applications are returned because the website forms are outdated. If you’re going through the process without professional help, you won’t know that.
Moreover, some immigration officers may interpret your application too strictly. Others may misplace some of your documents. After all, they are humans too.
If there’s a mistake on your part, it may be because you’re not meeting some essential requirements. You can check eligibility criteria in the Canadian Immigration Regulations Manual. You can also consult a lawyer or immigration consultant to check what’s wrong.
Since every case is different, it’s difficult to pinpoint a common cause for spousal sponsorship application refusals. Usually, it’s an administrative error either on your part or the IRCC’s part, but it can also be some issue with your credibility.
For example, your affidavits may be vague or misleading. This can be true if you have multiple people recounting the same event with differing details. To an immigration officer, such discrepancies may seem uncredible.
In cases of returned applications, your processing time extends by two or three months. In cases of refusals, you must submit an appeal within 30 days. At this point, you need a lawyer as it’s more challenging to navigate the appeals process.
However, not everyone can appeal the decision. Decisions for inland sponsorships cannot be appealed. Inland applicants must re-apply altogether. Outland sponsors may appeal at the Canadian Immigration Appeal Division (IAD).
To sum it up, spousal sponsorship applications in Canada are quite time-consuming. It doesn’t matter whether you use a professional, such as an Immigration Consultant or not. If you follow the process correctly, you’ll most likely be greeting your spouse at your local Canadian airport within months. However, if something goes wrong, don’t panic. There are many options out there that may help you.
It’s always better to consult experienced people. It doesn’t matter whether you seek a family member or legal consult. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may email NTC immigration and book your appointment for consultant, or email them: firstname.lastname@example.org