How long does spousal sponsorship take in Canada? This seems to be a permanent question, as so many families find it hard to stay separate for a long time. The processing of all the applications takes time, and there is a backlog, which is still present after the pandemic. Considering that there is a lot of interest in the program itself, it is clear that more people apply than can be processed, and this has brought about long waiting times and processing times.

Hearing stories of waiting over 2 years for simple draws to be made is not a rare occurrence, but there are a few things that you can do to get your loved one into Canada in a relatively short period. The sponsorship program is backed by the Canadian government – and they work hard to stay on top of the post-pandemic backlog. When it comes to the current waiting times, the Canadian government is trying hard to bring the total time down to about a year – which is faster than many other immigration streams.

What Is Spousal Sponsorship in Canada?

If you are a foreign national looking to join your spouse or a common-law partner who is in Canada and has a legal status there (either being a permanent resident or a Canadian citizen), you are in luck. The spousal sponsorship is intended for close family immigration and both marriage and common-law relationships are taken into consideration for this program and the basic eligibility requirement.

Spousal sponsorship in Canada is a complex program that takes a long time to resolve the application process. It will end up in the principal applicant being able to move to Canada and join their spouse or partner there, with permanent resident status and the ability to stay and work in Canada as any other permanent resident could.

With this in mind, the program is perfect for all who would like to move to Canada, even couples, but they cannot afford (financially or time-wise) to move to Canada together. This way, one partner moves to Canada (usually the one with the higher likelihood of succeeding in their application process) and the other one joins them later on. Of course, years may pass before the second application (for spousal sponsorship) may take place, as the first principal applicant will need some time to settle in Canada and become a permanent resident or to get Canadian citizenship (one of the two is necessary for the person to become a sponsor). Without much ado, let’s go and consider the program in more detail.

What Is a Spouse Visa?

The Family Class Immigration is a complex process and the spousal sponsorship program is one of the streams that you can use to bring your loved one into Canada. Canada spouse visa latest news says that the processing times for this type of visa are getting shorter and that more can be done in a shorter period, but what exactly is the Spouse Visa?

Well, if the sponsorship agreement for sponsoring the spouse has been made successfully and if the principal applicant is approved to move to Canada, their application status will be changed to permanent resident by their visa office. This means that during the family reunification, when the principal applicant enters Canada, they will be issued their permanent residence and will be able to stay in Canada indefinitely, for as long as they follow the laws and contribute to the society.

Processing Time: How Long Does Spousal Sponsorship Take in Canada?

As with any other, the Sponsorship Visa has some processing time. Canada is known for a quick permanent residence application processing time with most of their immigration programs, but the sheer number of applications is notoriously difficult to control. In addition to this, the pandemic cycle also saw a significant decrease in how many applications could be reasonably processed, which has created a significant backlog and a lot of issues for the Canadian authorities to deal with.

However, the IRCC (Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada) website says that the current processing time is down to one year, which was the case in the pre-pandemic era as well. This is true for both those who currently live in Canada (as temporary residents) and for those who live abroad and hope to move to Canada and live with their partner. If your application takes longer, the reason may be that you did not submit all the documents at once – as it happens that birth certificates or marriage certificates get forgotten The same goes for medical exams, and in this case, the visa officer will bring your application to a halt, until you send or submit the missing documents. In general, you can expect it will take up to a year for the full processing of your application.

Check Out How Long Does Canada Spousal Sponsorship Take:

Eligibility Criteria for Spousal Sponsorship: Who Can Sponsor?

Considering that there are two parties involved in the spousal sponsorship, there are also two sets of eligibility criteria when it comes to this type of sponsorship application. The two parties are the sponsor (the person living in Canada) and their counterpart living abroad and trying to get Canadian permanent residence (the primary applicant). There will also be some fees that have to be paid during the application procedure, and most of these will have to be covered by the principal applicant, but the sponsor can also send money for these costs to the applicant.

To sponsor, you must:

  • be at least 18 years of age
  • be a permanent resident of Canada or a citizen of Canada – note that temporary residents do not fulfill the requirements for spousal sponsorship
  • not have sponsored another spouse within the five years preceding the current sponsorship application
  • not be under a removal order
  • must not be serving a sentence in prison in Canada
  • must not have been convicted of a crime that is sexual
  • must not have been convicted of a violent crime, especially towards the spouse that they are trying to bring into Canada, and especially not one punishable by more than 10 years of prison sentence
  • must not have committed a crime that involves bodily injury to a relative, common-law partner, or spouse
  • must not have defaulted or failed to pay the support funds to their relatives or other dependents through their other sponsorships
  • must not have declared bankruptcy and still be in it
  • must not be a recipient of any form of social assistance or support. The only acceptable exceptions here relate to assistance they may be receiving for disability (either permanent or work-related)
  • have the minimum necessary income to sponsor a spouse in Canada. The minimum income requirement is exclusive – if you do not satisfy it, you will be excluded from the program as a potential sponsor
  • be willing to sign a sponsorship agreement with the Canadian government, in which they promise financial support for a normal (modest, not luxurious) life to their partner. This is of crucial importance, as any default that their spouse goes into during the three years that they will be dependent on the partner is sure to be charged to the sponsor. This includes social assistance, even after the spouse has moved out and has started another family or an independent life

Besides meeting this eligibility criteria, the Canadian spouse (the sponsor) will need to submit the following documents:

  • IMM 1344 – Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking
  • IMM 5532 – Sponsorship Evaluation and Relationship Questionnaire
  • IMM 1283 – Financial Evaluation
  • IMM 5532 – Relationship Information and Sponsorship Evaluation
  • IMM 5476 – Use of Representative – if applicable
  • IMM 5475 – Authority to Release Personal Information to a Designated Individual – if applicable
  • Documents proving your status in Canada, either the status of a permanent resident or that of a citizen of Canada
  • Information on Previous Relationships
  • Employment and Salary Information, or proof of meeting the financial requirements
  • Proof of Payment of Application Fees

Eligibility Criteria for Spousal Sponsorship: Who Can Be Sponsored?

On the other side of the marriage-like relationship and the sponsorship process is the person being sponsored. In the case of this program, this person is known as the principal applicant, as they will be making their application for immigration to Canada. So, let’s consider who can be sponsored to arrive in Canada.

The principal applicant in the spousal sponsorship program in Canada must submit the following forms in their application:

  • IMM 0008 – Generic Application Form for Canada
  • Information on the previous countries that the sponsored person has traveled to
  • IMM 5406 – Additional Family Information
  • IMM 5669 – Schedule A – Background / Declaration
  • IMM 5532 – Relationship Information and Sponsorship Evaluation
  • IMM 5476 – Use of Representative – if applicable
  • IMM 5475 – Authority to Release Personal Information to a Designated Individual – if applicable
  • Identity documents – travel documents, passport, etc.
  • Civil Status documents of the foreign spouse
  • Information on Children, if any exists in the relationship
  • Police clearance certificates, both from their country of origin and all countries that they have lived in for at least six months or more since they were 18 years of age. A clean police clearance certificate only is accepted, any kind of suspicion, ongoing investigation, or current or past sentence can be a difficult stone to move on their immigration pathway
  • Medical Examination results, especially if they have traveled to high-risk areas, including areas with known epidemic outbreaks
  • Photos – 1 per person accompanying the principal applicant, including them, the photos have to be passport-style photos and they have to be taken by a certified photographer, with a stamp, date, and signature of the photographer to confirm their authenticity
  • Proof of relationship to the sponsor, which can be a marriage certificate or other forms confirming their legal status and connection to the sponsor
  • Proof of payment of the processing fees
  • Healthcare insurance policy if asked for it

Whenever making an application, make sure that you understand that the immigration officers will be checking every single document that you have submitted. For this reason, it is necessary to ensure that the documents are real and trustworthy, as their authenticity will be checked. Every immigration application, not only for a spouse or common-law partner sponsorship undergoes the same kind of checks. Canadian spousal sponsorship programs are not cheap, take time and effort, and a lot of complex documents. If you are unsure about the family sponsorship pathways and would like assistance, you can always opt for help from a professional immigration consultant.


The spouse of the person applying for the sponsorship – even same-sex marriages are considered valid. However, multiple marriages, or marriages in which one has multiple spouses are not allowed and recognized by the Canadian government. If your country of origin does not support same-sex marriage, you may still be able to apply for sponsorship – check in with your local visa office in Canada. Your partner can travel to Canada for the two of you to get married there as well – this is considered a valid marriage in the face of Canadian law.

The marriage cannot have been made where the two spouses or partners were not physically present in the same space during the ceremony. Telephone marriages, proxy marriages, Skype ceremonies, etc. are simply not acknowledged.

Common-Law Partner

Common-law unions or partnerships are recognized for both opposite and same-sex partners if they have lived together for 12 consecutive months or more. If these relationships were not marriage-like, with common, shared experiences, and mutual and emotional support among the partners, this can be seen as a fake relationship and may not be considered for immigration purposes.

Conjugal Partner

It is also possible to sponsor the conjugal partner if they are living outside of Canada, the two of you have been in a conjugal relationship for at least a year and you could not live with them any longer for reasons of objective, not emotional nature (immigration issues, religious or war reasons, issues in the country of origin relating to sexual orientation of one or both partners, etc. are all considered valid reasons to consider a relationship conjugal).

Spouse Visa Canada Requirements

Spouse visa Canada requirements and the documents required for spouse visa Canada have been outlined above. When it comes to general requirements for this type of visa, both the sponsor and the applicant in spousal sponsorship have to make sure that the information they provide is truthful. Getting your application declined will call for the need for an immigration lawyer, and so will the criminal inadmissibility of the principal applicant.

Needless to say, the relationship between the partners has to be a genuine one and they will need to have spent some time living together, at least a year. A joint lease, utility bills, or similar proof of the relationship status is usually enough for Canadian immigration law and is likely to make the application for spousal sponsorship a success. When it comes to the Canadian visa offices, depending on the country you are coming from, it may be best that you check with them about the exact expectations and what documents would be good to provide during the application procedure to make sure that you indeed have lived together.

The same can be done even if you currently live in the same household. This can happen if the two partners live outside of Canada, where one has Canadian citizenship or permanent residence, and the other does not. In this case, the partners can apply for spousal sponsorship, only if they both plan to live in Canada after the application process is done. Likewise, if both partners live in Canada at the time of application, they will need to prove their status. In this case, you will need to apply for the in-country or in-land spousal sponsorship.

how long does it take to immigrate to canada

How To Apply for Spousal Sponsorship in Canada?

The first step in family-class visa application (for spouses) is to check your eligibility. You can easily do that by checking the requirements in this guide. When you have confirmed that you are indeed eligible, it is time for the next steps. Let’s consider them one by one:

You will need to get the application package. This package can be found here. You will need to fill in the details on who is being sponsored, the country where the person you wish to sponsor lives, and the country where all the documents you will be submitting have been issued. Once this is done, you will get the document checklist, including the forms and documents that you need to gather for and with your application. There, you will also find the instructions on how to fill the documents in and you will be able to submit a full, complete application if you follow all the steps on the visa application form.

The concerned visa office will be able to give you more details on the documents that you need to collect, which is the next step in the application process. The online tool and checklist may state ‘authentic relationship proof’, but the visa office may be able to clarify what documents may be used that are issued in your country. When collecting the documents, always use the checklist and tick one box at a time, as you get all the documents in place.

This will ensure that you have all of them in one place. Make sure to read the checklist carefully, to ensure you have all the TRANSLATED copies you need, and note that not all documents need to be translated. Needless to say, the translation needs to be done by a sworn translator and will need to have their stamp. The documents that should be translated will have to be presented in English or French form, depending on the province that you would like to move to.

The next step is to submit all the documents and prepare the application itself. During this time, you will need to collect supporting documents and you will need to have them in an electronic copy. As of 2022, the applications can only be made online, and the original documents must be scanned and presented in an electronic form. The same needs to be done for all the additional documents.

For essential documents and forms that are filled out online, there will be a valid form that you will need to click to make sure your permanent residence status is not declined because you did not fill them out yourself. The validated document means that you are applying and no one else on your behalf unless there is a medical or technological boundary for you to do it yourself.

The next step in the application process is paying the fees. You will have to pay the sponsorship fee, the principal applicant processing fee, the right of permanent residence fee, plus dependent children fees (both the sponsorship fee and processing fee, and a fee to include them in the sponsorship application itself. Besides these, you will also have to pay the biometrics fees. On top of these fees, you should also be ready to pay all the fees that you may incur during the gathering of the documents – although these are not paid to the Canadian government, there are some fees that you need to pay to your country as well.

This finishes the four-step process to immigrate to Canada and enables you to start the formal immigration process. The eligibility for a refund depends on several factors, and you should consider it only in case you give up on the process or you are declined due to not meeting the eligibility rules.

Spousal Sponsorship Fees

As we have said before, there are several fees that you have to pay to make sure you can get legal immigration status through this program. These fees relate both to the principal applicant and the sponsor and they should round up this complicated process. Never pay the fees without having your document requirements fulfilled, as inaccurate documents will lead to a rejection of your application, whatever your current status may be. Here are the fees that you should pay for the spousal sponsorship in Canada:

The Type of Fee to Be PaidFee Amount in CAD
Sponsorship Fee – Spouse75
Principal Applicant Processing Fee490
Principal Applicant Right of Permanent Residence Fee515
Dependent Child Inclusion on Application155
Dependent Child Sponsorship Fee75
Dependent Child Processing Fee75
Biometrics – per Person85
Biometrics – per Family (2 or more people, capped off)170

Required Biometric Details for Spousal Sponsorship

For many types of Canadian visas (including a short visitor visa if you would like to visit your spouse or even a permanent residence application through a spouse sponsorship program), you will need to give your biometrics. This is a simple, two-step process. The first step is taking a photo of your face. The second one is taking the fingerprints of all ten fingers of yours.

Common-law Sponsorship vs Conjugal Sponsorship

When sponsoring a common-law partner or a conjugal partner, there are things to consider first. You will need to prove that the relationship is existent and real, and you will need some proof of this. Utility bills, mutual or common leases, mutual applications for temporary visa options for traveling, and anything else that can prove that your everyday living was spent at least partially together will be accepted. You will need to prove that you have spent at least 12 months or a year living together for both common-law partners.

When it comes to conjugal relationships or partners, you will need to prove that you have been in some kind of romantic relationship together. This is true even if you could not live together due to reasons that are beyond your control. These include war, sexual orientation stigma, political exile, and many more.

Common Obligations As a Sponsor

Your spousal sponsorship application is not a simple application for a visa or an application to pay for someone to come to Canada. This is a very complex procedure that leaves you with a lot of common obligations towards the partner whose arrival to Canada you have sponsored. The obligations of the sponsor in Canada spousal sponsorship include, but are not limited to:

  • providing them with shelter
  • providing them with necessities, such as food and access to utilities
  • providing them with access to eye care
  • providing them with access to dental care
  • providing them with access to public health services
  • providing them with assistance for reasons of various natures: maybe they need help with documents, finding a job in Canada or even finding their way around

You should understand that these are not to be taken lightly. By sponsoring your spouse’s arrival, you will need to take care of them for three years. This remains true even if the marriage falls apart, they start living with someone else, they become a permanent resident or citizen of Canada, they move to another province or even country, and even in case you experience financial problems.


Is an Interview Required for A Canada Spouse Visa?

Yes, an interview is required for a Canada spouse visa. Outside and inland spousal sponsorship process includes the interview. During it, you will be asked several questions about your documents, reasons for moving to Canada, and even about your relationship with the sponsor. You should answer these questions truthfully and to the best of your knowledge – remember, the visa officers want to make sure that your application is genuine.

How Long Does It Take to Get Permanent Residency in Canada After Marriage?

When it comes to your application for permanent residency in Canada after marriage, you should plan to spend at least 12 months waiting for the final decision. The PR cannot be obtained earlier than this. However, if you do not send a complete application or if you miss some documents or do not fill them in fully/correctly, your PR application process will take a longer time.

How Can I Speed Up My Spouse’s Visa?

There may not be much that you can do to expedite the process of getting your spouse’s visa. The visa requests are processed as they arrive. However, there are ways to avoid delays. Make sure you include all the documents, have a sufficient amount of Canadian Dollars to pay for all the fees at once, and make sure you get the police certificates for every country you’ve lived in for at least 6 months since you were 18.

What Is the Minimum Necessary Income to Sponsor Spouse in Canada?

There are no minimum necessary funds or income for spousal sponsorship in Canada. However, if you are asked to sign an undertaking agreement, the visa officer may assess your financial funds to ensure you have enough money to support your stay in Canada. In any case, you can always look for online testimonials and experiences and see how well you would quote other candidates for sponsorship.

Can I Stay in Canada While Waiting for Spousal Sponsorship?

When you make a Canadian spousal sponsorship application, you need to make sure that your partner (the principal applicant) is in Canada, with a legal status for the duration of the application process. If they are outside of Canada (be they your marriage, common-law, or if you are in a conjugal partner relationship), this is not the case.

Final Thoughts

Spousal sponsorship to arrive in Canada is a complex immigration procedure that is still a good way to bring your loved one into Canada. When it comes to the application itself, it is a fairly easy process, where the sponsor applies first, and the principal applicant last. It is done online, and the documents that you need to collect are all in the document checklist.