4 Things You Need to Know for a Successful Spousal Sponsorship Application

Published May 28, 2018

By Rojan Malekzadeh, Barrister & Solicitor

Love, marriage, moving in together – these are often exciting events in life. Despite this, our office frequently gets calls from couples whose excitement is overshadowed by feeling overwhelmed with Canada’s immigration requirements for a common-law or spousal sponsorship.

We are often asked:

What type of documents should we collect? How much detail should we include in our application? What makes a strong application?

Here are 4 things you need to know, when preparing a sponsorship application.

1.     Ensure you meet eligibility criteria

Before preparing an application, you will want to make sure that the sponsor, and the applicant (the spouse or common-law partner who is being sponsored), are both eligible and meet the requirements.

The requirements and eligibility of a sponsor are outlined in sections 130 to 133 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR). Some of the general requirements for the sponsor are outlined below.

The sponsor must:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be residing in Canada if he/she is a permanent resident. If the sponsor is a Canadian citizen, he/she must reside in Canada once the sponsored spouse becomes a permanent resident
  • Not have been sponsored (as a spouse, common law partner or conjugal partner) within the last 5 years
  • Not be subject to a removal order
  • Not be detained or in prison
  • Not have been convicted of an offence of a sexual nature, of a violent nature, or offence against a family member or relative, or former partner that resulted in bodily harm, or an attempt to threat to commit any such offences*  (unless a pardon has been granted, or 5 years have passed since completion of the sentence)
  • Not be in default of a previous sponsorship, support payments or immigration debt
  • Not be an undischarged bankrupt, and
  • Not receive social assistance for a reason other than disability

The spouse or common law partner being sponsored must not be inadmissible to Canada for reasons outlined in sections 34 to 42 of the IRPR, which include inadmissibility on security grounds, due to human or international rights violations, criminality, financial reasons, and misrepresentation.

It is worth noting that Canada has an exception to the usual health admissibility provisions and requirements for spouses and common-law partners, as long as the sponsored spouse does not have a health condition determined to be a danger to public health or safety.

Please note that these criteria listed above are general, and that specific questions regarding eligibility of a sponsor or admissibility of a spouse or common law partner should be discussed with a qualified professional, in order to better determine specific options.

2.     Stay consistent and organized

The importance of consistency and organization cannot be stressed enough!  

Sponsorship applications require number of forms and supporting documents. Sponsors and applicants are asked to provide details about the date they met, when they met one another’s family and friends, details of their engagement, wedding ceremony and reception. Applicants are also required to list their address history, education history and employment history for the past several years.

We find that clients may forget dates or details, which can be fairly important to a sponsorship application.  Human memory is imperfect, and while it is possible to become confused, inconsistencies of this nature can lead to significant delays in processing, and may raise questions in the mind of the immigration officer about the genuineness of the relationship.

It is worth the extra time for the sponsor and spouse to, together, review the forms carefully, ensure that documents and forms are consistent with one another, and the information is organized properly.

3.     Provide some context to your love story

At our office, we often meet with clients whose sponsorship applications have been refused, after they have attempted to prepare and to submit the applications without any legal assistance. One common trend we have found is that these clients have left out important details about their relationship, and have submitted a bare-bones application without providing much context about the development of the relationship.

Where did you meet? When did you go on your first date? If you decided to marry soon after entering in the relationship, why? If your marriage was an arranged marriage, how and when were you introduced?  Why did you both agree to an arranged marriage? What would you both do if the sponsorship application were refused?

Remember that the immigration officer reviewing your application only knows as much information as you provide. It is helpful to outline your story, and to let the immigration officer know about your feelings for one another, and your hopes and plans for the future.

4.     Submit supporting evidence

Refused sponsorship applications are often missing documentary proof of the relationship. Those clients who consult with us after an unsuccessful attempt at sponsoring a spouse, explain that although they had documents available, they never knew what to include, or how much to include in their application. 

Have you taken trips together? Keep the tickets and itineraries, and include those in the application. Have you spent time with one another’s family members and friends? Include some photos with labels, and ask those family members and friends to write letters. Did you buy gifts for one another? Submit some of these receipts. Did you have a formal ceremony and reception? Include a copy of the invitations and receipts for payment of the different services.

There are many types of documents that can be submitted to support a sponsorship application. Keep in mind that all documents submitted to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), and visa offices abroad, must be in either English or French. Documents which are not in English or French must include a translation that meets the specific requirements, as outlined by IRCC in their policy.


For more information, or for assistance with your sponsorship application, contact us today!