Moving to Canada with one’s spouse is a beautiful journey that many people embark on each year. Whether it’s to start a new life together, pursue job opportunities, or be closer to family, Canada, as a top destination for immigrants, caters to all these needs via the Spousal Sponsorship program.
However, applying for this provision may be difficult, and sadly, not all applicants are accepted on the first try. Needless to say, this guide contains all of the information needed to appeal a denied spousal sponsorship application.
So, let’s get the ball rolling with a few questions.
On What Grounds Can a Spousal Sponsorship Application be denied?
Each spousal sponsorship application is assessed on a case-by-case basis, and there are a variety of reasons why an application may be denied.
Under the Spousal Sponsorship program, a sponsor is required to provide these documents:
- A statutory declaration of the marriage, such as a marriage certificate
- Proof of divorce or separation from the previous spouse for previously married sponsors
- Proof of cohabitation, including lease documents that show the same address
- Documents from other institutions that show a common-law relationship
- Joint bank account statements
Failure to submit the aforementioned documents to the IRCC’s processing office will lead to a rejected application.
A spousal sponsorship application may be denied on grounds of the beneficiary providing false details or withholding information. A typical example is marriage fraud, where the sponsored lies about their marital status. The beneficiary and petitioner may bear the brunt of such an action by being barred from entering Canada for a period of time or even permanently.
No country considers itself a safe haven for people with criminal records, so the IRCC runs background checks on all applicants. Crimes linked to treason, terrorism, and espionage qualify for automatic rejection. Minor offences outside of Canada may be overlooked, provided they are fully disclosed.
A spousal sponsorship application may be rejected if it is revealed that the applicant has a medical condition that constitutes a public health concern or strain on Canada’s healthcare system. In rare situations, the IRCC may grant the individual a temporary permit if there is medical proof of any ongoing treatments for the foreseeable future.
Canada prioritizes its security measures, and a beneficiary who poses a threat to public safety is not allowed into the country. This includes individuals who have been convicted of serious crimes and are seen as threats to the country’s interests.
What Are the Options for Rejected Canada Spousal Sponsorship Applications?
If a spousal sponsorship application is rejected by the IRCC, there are several options the sponsor and sponsored spouse can consider:
Appeal the Decision
Applicants who are impacted by the decision may file an appeal with the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD), an independent tribunal that reviews immigration decisions made by the IRCC, within 30 days of receiving the denial letter.
Seek a Judicial Review
This approach is recommended if the application process is marred with procedural errors. In such cases, the Federal Court will conduct an independent review and potentially overturn the spousal sponsorship decision.
Spouses can reapply for the program if the basis for refusal is minor, such as missing documents or incomplete forms. This time, they are to present a complete application.
Consider Other Options
Spouses whose applications have been denied can apply to other qualified immigration programs, such as the Express Entry program or the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). These schemes have their perks and the help of an immigration consultant will influence an informed decision.
How Long Does the Appeal Process Take?
The processing duration for a spousal sponsorship appeal depends on the nature of the case, the backlog at the Immigration Appeal Division, and the number of appeals filed. It generally takes 12 to 18 months to overturn the decision.
However, the timeframe might be longer or shorter than expected, depending on how quickly and comprehensively the required paperwork and evidence are submitted, and how willing the spouses are to attend hearings or meetings requested by the IAD.
Therefore, the IAD recommends that affected spouses cooperate fully and provide all necessary information required to expedite the process.
How to Win an Appeal
Winning a spousal sponsorship appeal is no walk in the park, but then several factors may come into play to increase one’s chances of success. Here are some quick pointers:
Understand the Grounds for Refusal
Knowing why a sponsorship application was denied in the first place can help affected applicants to file a strong appeal. This is why such individuals are encouraged to review the refusal letter carefully and identify specific areas that should be addressed. If possible, seek legal advice.
Get Additional Evidence
In line with developing a strong appeal, any new information or evidence is a plus to supporting the applicant’s case. This may include additional letters of support, financial documents, or other relevant information.
Draft a Strong Appeal Letter
Since the appeal letter is critical to determining the outcome of the case, it should be persuasive and thorough. In the letter, explain the reasons for the refusal, addressing each point of concern and how they’ve been addressed. Provide supporting evidence as well.
Seek Professional Help
An immigration lawyer or consultant knows the ropes of this complex process and can provide sound guidance. If the IRCC still fails to take action on an appeal, they can represent the applicant in front of the Federal Court of Appeal. They can also advise spouses on their chances of success in their cases.
How to Appeal the IRCC Decision
As earlier stated, if a sponsored spouse’s application for a permanent residence visa was denied, the sponsor can appeal to the IAD. Chances are that the decision will be overturned in the face of concrete evidence, provided the beneficiary:
- Isn’t convicted of a crime within or outside Canada that could be punished by a sentence of six months to 10 years or more.
- Doesn’t violate human or international rights
- Isn’t a security threat or part of a criminal syndicate
The applicant can file an appeal in the following steps:
- File a notice of appeal
- Prepare the case
- Prepare for an informal resolution
- Wait for the hearing to be scheduled
- Prepare for the hearing
- Attend the hearing
- Receive the decision
There are two outcomes to this approach: the IRCC’s decision may be overturned or the sponsor’s appeal may be dismissed.
How to Request a Reconsideration from IRCC
To convince the IRCC to reconsider its decision on the denial of a spousal sponsorship application, the applicant should:
- Review the agency’s decision and reasons to determine the next line of action.
- Understand the eligibility requirements and ensure they are adhered to. Requests can’t be granted solely based on an applicant’s disagreement with the decision.
- Submit a written request for reconsideration to the agency within 90 days of the date on the refusal letter.
- Wait for a response as the process may take several months.
- Appeal to the IAD if there is no satisfactory outcome.
Canada takes pride in being a country that welcomes people from all around the world to build their future in a place that offers freedom and opportunities. However, not every sponsor who chooses to relocate their spouse under the Spousal Sponsorship program succeeds. Regardless, this shouldn’t be the end of the road because the methods described in this guide have proven effective in overturning immigration decisions, provided the requirements are satisfied.