Canada is one of the best countries for immigrants to study, work and live. So, it makes sense that those already in Canada would consider sponsoring a spouse, partner, or child.

But even before you find out about the Canada spouse visa processing time, you will need to know if you’re eligible.

So, who is eligible to sponsor a spouse, partner, or child to become a permanent Canadian resident? To be eligible to sponsor a loved one, you must be at least 18 years old and meet any of the following criteria:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or
  • Registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act or
  • Be a permanent resident of Canada

Additionally, you must be residing in Canada to be eligible to sponsor a loved one unless you are:

  • A Canadian citizen living abroad and you intend to return once your relative immigrates
  • Sponsoring a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or dependent child who don’t have dependent children of their own

Quebec residents also need to meet the provinces’ additional conditions to be sponsors, after the federal government approves them as a sponsor!

What is the Canadian Spouse Visa Processing Time?

At the time of writing this, Canada’s immigration department, due to the effects of COVID-19, couldn’t:

  • Process applications normally
  • Give accurate processing times for most applications

However, a quick check at the estimated Canadian spouse visa application time, suggests it would take approximately 12 months to process an application.

It might seem long if you can’t wait to see your partner, but during this time, the IRCC would be collecting and reviewing details of the person being sponsored including:

  • Biometrics
  • Assessing the sponsor and the sponsee
  • Ensuring both parties meet eligibility criteria

The IRCC is one of the most efficient government departments and is committed to processing the most complete applications sooner rather than later. As such, the speed at which they process your application depends on, among other factors:

  • The type of application
  • Whether the application is complete
  • How many applications they have received
  • How easy it is to verify your information
  • Your speed of responding to requests and concerns

If you want to sponsor a dependent child, visa processing times will take anywhere from 12 to 36 months based on different factors.

What are Your Responsibilities as a Sponsor?

Sponsoring a partner, spouse, or child is not a one-and-done deal! There are certain responsibilities you must commit to as a sponsor. Otherwise, your chances of qualifying as one will dwindle, fast.

Before sponsoring a loved one to become a permanent resident of Canada, you must:

  • Meet the required minimum income to sponsor spouse in Canada
  • Agree to support the relative(s) financially

The financial support you’re required to give depends on your relationship to the person you’re sponsoring, their age, and where you live. Provinces such as Quebec have a different set of requirements.

However, for the rest of the provinces, you’ll be financially responsible for:

  • Spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner – 3 years
  • Dependent child under 22 years – 10 years or until they’re 25, whichever comes first
  • Dependent child 22 years or older – 3 years

Your financial responsibility for the person you sponsor doesn’t change even if your relationship changes. For instance, you’ll still be financially responsible for your spouse even if you divorce or separate after they receive their permanent residency.

Similarly, even if the sponsee becomes a Canadian citizen or your financial situation worsens, the people your sponsor are still your financial responsibility for the stipulated period.

Finally, if you withdraw your sponsorship application and the IRCC receives it after the person you sponsor becomes a permanent resident, they’re still your financial responsibility.

Why You Might not be Eligible to Sponsor a Relative

Canada wants to grant sponsor status and permanent residency to upstanding individuals. As such, you may not be able to sponsor a spouse or child if you have been or are still under some of these conditions:

  • You’re in prison
  • You’ve not settled your alimony or child support payments
  • You’ve declared and are still under bankruptcy
  • Got social assistance for reasons other than a disability
  • Defaulted, made late payments, or missed payments on an immigration loan
  • Previously failed to meet the terms of a sponsorship agreement after sponsoring another relative in the past
  • Were convicted of a violent crime, sexual offence, or an offence against a relative (this will depend on the type of offence, when it was committed, and whether it was suspended)

The list above is not exhaustive and there are other reasons that may prevent you from being able to sponsor a loved one.

How Do I Sponsor a Spouse or Child for Canadian Permanent Residency?

The application process to sponsor someone to be a permanent resident of Canada is a twofold process.

The permanent resident or citizen (sponsor), first applies to become a sponsor. Once you put in your application, the IRCC will review it to ensure you meet the guidelines above. If the IRCC reviews your application and determines your relationship to the spouse or partner you’re inviting is genuine, they’ll grant you the ability to sponsor them.

This is also known as first stage approval spousal sponsorship. Once you’re approved, the person you’re sponsoring can now start the process on their end by applying for permanent residency.

While spousal sponsorship is one of the best ways of immigrating to Canada, it can also be extremely complicated, especially when any of the parties involved don’t know the requirements.

Before you proceed to invest time and money in applying for spousal sponsorship, it’s extremely important that you both ensure you have all the documents needed to ascertain your relationship and ability to support the loved one.

If you’re not sure of the procedure or eligibility, your best option is to contact an immigration professional to help you navigate the red tape. 

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