3 FAQs about spousal sponsorship in Canada
The Government of Canada reports that as of December 2021, there were 54,683 spousal sponsorship applications awaiting a decision. Those who are considering or beginning the process likely have a lot of questions. Three of the more common are discussed below.
How long does it take for the Government of Canada to process the application?
Although the exact answer will vary depending on a number of factors, the Government of Canada states it takes 12 months to process a spouse or common-law partner application. This estimate is the same whether the partner who is seeking these benefits is residing inside or outside of Canada. The estimated time begins when a mailed application arrives within the mail room or at the time of submission if done online or in person and includes the time it takes for biometrics, to assess the sponsor, and to review eligibility requirements.
Although these estimates are helpful, the Government of Canada is careful to point out that the impact of the pandemic continues to slow their ability to process these applications. As such, the 12-month timeframe may not be as accurate as pre-pandemic estimates. Immigration Minister Sean Fraser has stated that he will work to reduce processing times and the Government of Canada has allotted $85 million in funds to increase the efficiency of the process. The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) states that it will focus on increased online options and data analytics to help achieve this goal.
At the time of this writing, however, it is best to prepare for the process to take a year or more. Those looking to go through this process can help to better ensure it goes smoothly by putting together a complete package at the initial submission. This will help to avoid the delays that can come with a returned package and need for resubmission if something was missing.
What are the eligibility requirements?
Eligibility requirements for a sponsor include:
- Age. The sponsor must be at least 18 years of age.
- Citizenship status. The sponsor should be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada.
- Location. The government also requires the sponsor live in Canada or have a clear plan to live in Canada when the sponsored spouse becomes a permanent resident.
- Financial stability. The sponsor must not be receiving social assistance. Disability is generally the only exception. The government also requires the sponsor show that they can provide for their own basic need as well as those of the spouse and any dependent children.
In some cases the Canadian government will expect the sponsor meet a low-income-cut-off score. An example is when the immigrating spouse has dependent children with a dependent child of their own.
Is there any way to know the status of my application?
In an effort to help those who are going through this system, the government recently announced the release of an online portal that allows applicants to track the status of their spousal and child sponsorship applications. The IRCC points out that the form is subject to change at any time before its officers make final decisions. As such, it is best to view this portal as a guideline.
The government has stated it hopes that a shift to a more online application process will help to minimize processing delays.