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Family Sponsorships

YOU SELECTED THIS OPTION BECAUSE:You wish to sponsor your wife/husband, common-law partner, or other family member for Permanent Residency in Canada.

Sponsoring a family member is an important right of Canadian citizens and lawful permanent residents. However, only certain relationships serve as a basis for sponsorship. These include a spouse (or common-law partner) and his or her dependent children, a parent and, in exceptional and very rare cases, a family relative.

For applicants who wish to permanently sponsor a spouse or common-law partner, including their dependents, we invite you to review the regular sponsorship process. For applicants who wish to secure long term “temporary” ten-year visas for a parent or grandparent, we invite readers to consult our “Super Visa” offering.

Common-law couples, in particular, need to be extra cautious as Citizenship Immigration Canada (CIC) has implemented rigorous standards for non-married couples. A common issue with newlyweds also occurs when a spousal application is sent following a marriage license. Issues of bona fide or good faith marriage may come into play in these instances in the form of a mandatory and meticulous interview with CIC.

For citizens outside Canada, the onus is on the couple to convince CIC that upon visa approval, the couple will return to Canada. Here, the question of timing is very important. For couples who live in Canada, or plan to live in Canada, there’s the real question of strategy. Do we file under the regular “out-of-Canada” class which is altogether much quicker? Or is the special “In-Canada” class, with notoriously slow processing of four years, a better option given the advantage of an open work permit on the non-Canadian spouse at the initial stage of the process?

A lot of applicants who live in Canada make the mistake that the “In-Canada” class process is the only option at their disposal. While the In-Canada has clear benefits (such as the obtaining of an open work permit), the program is notoriously slow and may take four years to complete. It is also very risky for In-Canada applicants to leave the country during the adjudication process. Before filing for the In-Canada class, please consider the “regular” process which is the “out-of-Canada” category. Contrary to popular myth, in-Canada applicants may file under the regular “out-of-Canada” process.

For sponsors who live in Quebec, there is an extra bureaucratic step to sponsoring your family member as you must secure a Quebec certificate before a visa is issued.

It is also worth noting that a criminal record, even if only a misdemeanor charge, may disqualify an applicant from the sponsorship process. A Canadian wife, for example, who wants to sponsor a husband with a DUI conviction may require some form of pardon or rehabilitation certificate.

The majority of family sponsorships also conduct a revenue stress test, including the Super Visa class. While spousal and common-law sponsors (including their dependent children) are exempt from specific financial criterion, there are still obligations that carry a significant price tag despite the fact that there’s no specific monetary litmus test.

If you are sponsoring a family relative, such as a parent or grandparent, please be cognizant that timing will be especially critical as the 5000 cap is quickly attained. If an application is slightly incorrect, incomplete or otherwise rejected, you will lose your opportunity to file this year.

Finally, there are obligations AFTER permanent resident approval (which is why the application is called an “undertaking” or contract) especially for childless couples.

For all these issues, it is imperative that you hire a qualified family immigration practitioner who can navigate these waters.

While our firm receives no special treatment with Citizenship Immigration Canada (CIC) when presenting an application, there are unique benefits to hiring an experienced licensed practitioner when considering the issues outlined in the above; of all which go beyond the parameters of the filing itself including strategy, border crossing prior to PR approval, the landing process and post immigration obligations. To appreciate the topics in play when preparing a spousal/common-law application, please refer to the table below.

Top 10 Issues that Come Into Play under the Family Class Permanent Resident Program

  • What is the best strategy for this filing? If the couple is in Canada, is it worth filing under the In-Canada stream? What are the pros/cons to filing under the In-Canada class versus the regular “Out-Of-Canada” class (that all sponsors are entitled to use even if living in Canada)?
  • Will an officer view the relationship as stable and bona fide (esp. common-law or relatively new marriages)
  • If the sponsored (or couple) lives outside Canada, will they be able to demonstrate that they will be returning to Canada when approved? Canada has a very high bar to passing this test.
  • If the sponsored (and in some cases the Canadian sponsor) person has a criminal record, or if the sponsor has no lawful status in his country of residency (including in Canada), will this poison the sponsorship application or process? And if so, are they any remedies or fixes that we can do in advance or during the adjudication period?
  • What does the province of Quebec look for in a spousal/common-law filing and how do we interact with that department in conjunction with the federal branch?
  • When an application has been submitted, what are the risks of traveling in-and-out of Canada during the adjudication process? What type of paperwork can we provide at the border to alleviate dual intent concerns by Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) officer?
  • How is the “landing” process handled (landing refers to the first time an approved couple officially settles in Canada and becomes a permanent resident)? What are the practical steps at the border considering an approved couple may not be ready to officially settle in Canada but wish to land for permanent resident status? For more information about how we can assist on the landing process, click on the relevant link.
  • When approved, how does one register for health care, get a social insurance number, obtain a driver’s license, and register children to school? What about customs? How does one import a car for instance or expensive jewelry or a wine collection?
  • How to provide a Canadian transitory address to obtain a permanent resident card (which allows a non visa-exempt applicant to board a flight)? This is especially problematic when a client may not be ready to provide a transitory or mailing address in Canada.
  • What are the obligations of a childless applicant AFTER they receive PR approval and what are the consequences of non-compliance? What are the residency obligations after approval on the part of the sponsored person?

If you opt to prepare and file paperwork on your own, chances are that a form will be “incomplete” or a document will be “missing” and the application gets returned which can add considerable delay.

If you are thinking about sponsoring a foreign person, schedule a consultation to review the sponsorship process. We’ll discuss strategy, process, time-frame, post immigration obligations, and any other concerns or questions you may have in this rigorous process. For an appointment, contact 888-827-6605.

Firm Deliverables for Spousal/Common-Law and Family Sponsorships:
Discussion and strategy session – “Out-of-Canada” versus “In-Canada” undertaking
Prepare all government forms and assemble relevant supporting documentation
Filing to Citizenship Immigration Canada (CIC) on the client’s behalf
Cover letter to address any possible bona fide concerns (“marriage of convenience”)
Settlement strategy in Canada (for Canadian sponsors who live outside Canada)
Dealing with medical or criminal issues and remedies to override inadmissibility
Interview preparation before a CIC officer
Coordination of entries in Canada while an application is pending including point-of-entry documentation at the border
Discussion of obligations after approval