Understand Eligibility Requirements

Criteria for the Sponsor:

  1. Age: You must be at least 18 years old.
  2. Residency Status: You need to be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident living in Canada, or a registered Indian under the Canadian Indian Act. Canadian citizens residing outside Canada can sponsor a spouse, provided they intend to live in Canada when the sponsored individual becomes a permanent resident.
  3. Financial Stability: As a sponsor, you must demonstrate the financial ability to provide the basic needs for your spouse or partner. This includes food, clothing, shelter, and other essentials for everyday living, as well as health care needs not covered by public health services.

Criteria for the Sponsored Spouse:

  1. Marital Status: The sponsored person must be legally married to the sponsor or have been living with the sponsor in a common-law relationship for at least one continuous year.
  2. Authenticity of the Relationship: The relationship must be genuine and not primarily for the purpose of gaining entry into Canada. Immigration officers will assess this by examining your shared life, such as joint bank accounts, correspondence, shared residence, and other factors indicative of a genuine long-term relationship.

Financial Requirements and Obligations:

  • No Minimum Income Requirement: Unlike some other sponsorship programs, there is generally no minimum income requirement to sponsor a spouse, unless the spouse has dependent children that have their own dependent children.
  • Length of Undertaking: The sponsor must sign an undertaking to provide financial support for the sponsored spouse for three years from the spouse’s date of becoming a permanent resident.

Inadmissibility Factors:

  • Criminality: Individuals with certain criminal records may be deemed inadmissible to Canada. This includes crimes involving violence, drugs, or breaches of human rights.
  • Serious Health Issues: Health conditions that might cause excessive demand on Canada’s health or social services (beyond the provisions of public health care) can also be a factor for inadmissibility.
  • Financial Reasons: If the sponsor has failed to meet the financial obligations of a previous sponsorship agreement, defaulted on a court-ordered alimony or child support, or has received government financial assistance for reasons other than disability, this could impact their eligibility to sponsor.


Gather Necessary Documents

Here’s what you need to collect:

Identification and Status Documents:

  1. Passports: Full copies of the pages showing your passport number, date of issue, expiry date, your photo, name, date, and place of birth for both the sponsor and the sponsored spouse.
  2. Birth Certificates: Official certificates for both you and your spouse, confirming your identities and places of birth.
  3. Proof of Status in Canada: If you are a permanent resident, include a copy of both sides of your permanent resident card. If you are a Canadian citizen, include a copy of your citizenship certificate. Also, include any previous immigration documents, if applicable.

Proof of Relationship:

  1. Marriage Certificate: An essential document if you are married, proving the legality of your marriage.
  2. Photos: Provide photographs that show you and your spouse together at different times and events, which helps to establish the genuineness of your relationship.
  3. Communication Records: Logs of text messages, emails, phone call histories, and social media interactions that demonstrate ongoing communication.
  4. Joint Agreements: Copies of joint leases, bank account statements, or utility bills can further prove the authenticity of your relationship.

Financial Documents:

  1. Tax Returns: The most recent Notice of Assessment (NOA) or Option C printout from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to prove your financial stability and income.
  2. Employment Letters: A current letter from your employer detailing your job title, salary, employment status, and the length of your employment.
  3. Other Financial Statements: Bank statements or other financial investments that provide a snapshot of your financial health.

Police Clearance Certificates and Medical Exams:

  1. Police Certificates: These are required from every country you or your spouse have lived in for six consecutive months or longer since the age of 18. They serve to prove that you have no criminal record.
  2. Medical Exams: A complete medical examination report for the sponsored spouse, which needs to be performed by a physician approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). This report confirms that the sponsored individual does not have any medical conditions that would make them inadmissible to Canada under public health or safety grounds.

Complete the Application Forms

Here’s a guide on the forms you will need and how to complete them properly.

Overview of Required Forms:

  1. IMM 1344, Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking: This form is filled out by the sponsor to agree to the sponsorship conditions.
  2. IMM 5289, Application Guide for the Sponsored Person: This comprehensive guide helps the sponsored spouse understand how to fill out their portion of the application.
  3. IMM 5669, Schedule A – Background/Declaration: Filled out by the sponsored spouse, this form includes detailed personal history and background information.
  4. Additional Forms: Depending on circumstances, other forms such as IMM 5406 (Additional Family Information) and IMM 5476 (Use of a Representative) may be required.

Detailed Instructions for Each Form:

  • IMM 1344:
    • Part 1 (Sponsor): Complete all personal details accurately, declare your income, and agree to the terms of the sponsorship.
    • Part 2 (Agreement): Read and understand the undertaking to provide for the basic requirements of the sponsored person.
    • Signatures: Ensure both the sponsor and the sponsored spouse sign where required.
  • IMM 5289:
    • Carefully follow the instructions provided in the guide to ensure that all necessary documents and supplementary forms are correctly completed and submitted.
  • IMM 5669:
    • Provide a full personal history, including education, employment, travel, and residency details for the past 10 years or since the age of 18.
    • Answer all security and background questions truthfully to avoid issues with misrepresentation.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Filling Out Forms:

  1. Inaccurate Information: Ensure all dates, names, addresses, and other details match those on your supporting documents. Discrepancies can lead to delays or rejections.
  2. Leaving Sections Blank: If a section does not apply, write ‘N/A’ (not applicable) instead of leaving it blank. This indicates you did not overlook the section.
  3. Unsigned Forms: Missing signatures are a common reason for the return or rejection of applications. Check that all required signatures are in place before submission.
  4. Outdated Forms: Always use the latest versions of the forms from the IRCC website, as they frequently update their documents and requirements.
  5. Failure to Include All Required Documents: Double-check that all requested supporting documents are included. Missing documents can result in significant processing delays.


Pay the Application Fees

Paying the correct application fees is a mandatory step in the spousal sponsorship process. Here’s a breakdown of the fees and payment methods:

Breakdown of Required Fees:

  1. Sponsorship Fee: This fee covers the cost of processing the sponsorship application. The current fee is CAD $75.
  2. Principal Applicant Processing Fee: This is the fee for processing the sponsored spouse’s application. The cost is CAD $475.
  3. Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF): This fee is CAD $500 and is paid by the person being sponsored. It is payable only if the application is approved. This fee confirms the sponsored spouse’s status as a permanent resident.

Total Fees:

  • The combined total for the application (not including the RPRF) is CAD $550. If including the RPRF, the total comes to CAD $1050.

Accepted Payment Methods:

  • Online Payment: IRCC accepts payments through their online payment system, which is the most recommended method. You can pay with a credit card, debit card, or a Canadian bank account (using Interac online).
  • Payment at a Financial Institution in Canada: For those who cannot pay online, it’s possible to make payments at certain banks in Canada, though this option may be limited and requires prior confirmation of acceptance by the bank.

Fee Waiver Options:

  • Generally, IRCC does not offer fee waivers for spousal sponsorship applications. All applicants are expected to pay the full fees as stated unless specific diplomatic exceptions apply (e.g., for refugees or protected persons).
  • In very rare cases, if an applicant is experiencing exceptional circumstances and can demonstrate financial hardship, they might contact IRCC to discuss their situation. However, approval of fee waivers is not common and requires substantial proof of hardship.

Additional Tips:

  • Receipts: Always keep a copy of your payment receipts as proof of payment. You will need to include these receipts in your application package.
  • Timing: Pay the fees at the time of application submission to avoid delays. The Right of Permanent Residence Fee can be paid later but must be settled before the finalization of the permanent residency status.

Submit Your Application

Proper submission of your spousal sponsorship application is crucial for a timely and successful review by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Here’s how to organize, package, and mail your application, along with a checklist to ensure its completeness.

How to Organize and Package Your Application:

  1. Organization: Arrange your documents in the order specified in the checklist provided by IRCC in the application package. This typically involves placing forms at the front, followed by identification documents, proof of relationship, financial documents, and any additional supporting documents.
  2. Packaging: Use a durable envelope or package that is large enough to fit all documents without needing to fold them, except where folding is unavoidable (like for larger certificates). Ensure that everything is securely fastened, but avoid using staples or anything that could make it difficult for officers to handle the documents.
  3. Labelling: Clearly label any sections or categories of documents with tabs or separators that make it easy for the reviewing officer to find specific information.

Mailing Instructions and Addresses:

Inside Canada: If both the sponsor and the sponsored person are in Canada, mail your application to the Case Processing Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. The exact address is:

CPC-M (Case Processing Center – Mississauga), 2 Robert Speck Parkway, Suite 300, Mississauga, Ontario, L4Z 1H8


Outside Canada: If the sponsored spouse is outside Canada, you will need to send the application to the appropriate Canadian visa office in the sponsored spouse’s country or region. Addresses for these offices can be found on the IRCC website.


Checklist to Ensure Completeness of Your Application:

  • Forms: Ensure all required forms (e.g., IMM 1344, IMM 5289, IMM 5669) are completely filled out and signed.
  • Fees: Include receipts of paid fees (sponsorship fee, principal applicant processing fee, and if already paid, the Right of Permanent Residence Fee).
  • Documents:
    • Photocopies of identification and status documents for both sponsor and spouse.
    • Proof of relationship (marriage certificate, photos, joint agreements).
    • Financial documents (tax returns, employment letters).
    • Police clearance certificates and medical exam results.
  • Translations: Include certified translations for any documents not in English or French.
  • Cover Letter: Although not mandatory, a cover letter summarizing your application can be helpful for the reviewing officer.
  • Double-check: Go through the IRCC checklist again before sending your package to ensure no document is missing.


Wait for Processing

Here is what to expect during this phase, how to track your application, and an understanding of the different stages of processing.

Processing Times and What to Expect:

  • Typical Processing Times: As of recent updates, the average processing time for spousal sponsorship applications can range from 12 to 18 months. However, times can vary significantly depending on the complexity of your case, the completeness of your application, and the workload at the processing center.
  • Factors Influencing Processing Times: Delays might occur due to the need for additional documents, the requirement of an interview, or administrative backlogs, especially during peak times or due to global events impacting immigration services.

How to Track Your Application Status Online:

  1. Create an Account on the IRCC Website: If you haven’t already, set up an online account on the official Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.
  2. Link Your Paper Application to Your Online Account: Using the application number provided in your Acknowledgement of Receipt, you can link your paper application to your online account.
  3. Regularly Check for Updates: Log in regularly to check for any status changes or requests for additional information. Keeping an eye on your account can help you respond promptly to any actions you may need to take.

Understanding Different Stages of Processing:

  1. Acknowledgement of Receipt (AOR): This is the first notification you will receive after your application has been received by IRCC. It confirms that your file has been opened and includes an application number.
  2. Sponsor Approval: At this stage, IRCC reviews the eligibility of the sponsor. You will be notified if the sponsor has been approved or if there are any issues that need to be addressed. If approved, the application then moves to the next phase of processing the sponsored spouse’s application.
  3. Assessment of the Sponsored Spouse: This stage involves a detailed assessment of the sponsored spouse, including background checks and verification of all provided documents and information.
  4. Decision Made: This is the final stage where a decision on the permanent residency application is made. If approved, the sponsored spouse will receive a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and, if necessary, a visa to enter Canada.
  5. Preparation for Arrival in Canada: Once the COPR is issued, the sponsored spouse can prepare to move to Canada. The sponsor and sponsored spouse should now make travel arrangements and prepare for their life in Canada.


Respond to Additional Requests

Here are common requests you might encounter, how to handle them, and tips for preparing for a potential interview.

Common Requests for Additional Information or Documents:

  1. Additional Proof of Relationship: IRCC may ask for more evidence to demonstrate the genuineness of your relationship. This can include more detailed joint bank account statements, property ownership documents, or additional photos and correspondence over time.
  2. Updated Documents: If some of your documents have expired (such as passports or medical exams), you may be asked to submit updated versions.
  3. Clarification on Application Details: Sometimes, IRCC may need clarification on certain aspects of your application, such as travel history, family information, or past immigration history.
  4. Police Certificates: If you lived in another country since you submitted your application, you might be asked to provide a new police certificate from that country.
  5. Medical Examination: If the initial medical examination has expired (they are typically valid for one year), you may be asked to undergo another exam.

How to Respond to Requests Promptly and Accurately:

  • Read Carefully: Make sure you understand exactly what is being requested. If you are unsure, it’s better to ask for clarification rather than risk submitting incorrect or incomplete information.
  • Gather Documents Quickly: As soon as you receive a request, begin gathering the required documents or information. Delay in responding can lead to delays in your application processing.
  • Follow Instructions: Submit exactly what is asked for, following any specific instructions regarding the format or method of submission.
  • Use Secure Methods: When sending documents, use secure methods recommended by IRCC to ensure they receive them safely and promptly.

Tips for Preparing for a Potential Interview:

  1. Review Your Application: Familiarize yourself with the details of your application, especially dates and events that prove the length and genuineness of your relationship.
  2. Practice Potential Questions: Consider what questions might be asked about your relationship, your spouse’s background, and your plans in Canada. Practice clear and concise answers.
  3. Prepare Documents: Bring a copy of your entire application package, including all supporting documents, to the interview.
  4. Professional Attitude: Approach the interview seriously and with respect. Dress appropriately as you would for a formal meeting.
  5. Be Honest: Always provide truthful answers. Misrepresenting facts can lead to a refusal of your application or even legal consequences.


Prepare for the Outcome

If Your Application is Approved:

  1. Next Steps for Obtaining Permanent Resident Status:
    • Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and Entry Visa: Once approved, the sponsored spouse will receive a COPR and a visa (if applicable). These documents allow the spouse to confirm their status upon arrival in Canada.
    • Preparing to Move: Arrange for travel to Canada before the COPR expires. It’s important to plan your move, including shipping personal belongings, arranging accommodation in Canada, and understanding what you need to declare at the Canadian border.
    • Landing Process: Upon arrival in Canada, present your COPR and passport to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). They will finalize your permanent resident status.
  2. Rights and Responsibilities of the Sponsored Spouse:
    • Rights: As a permanent resident, the spouse will have the right to live, work, and study anywhere in Canada, and access to most social benefits, including healthcare.
    • Responsibilities: The spouse must obey Canadian laws and file taxes. They are also responsible for renewing their PR card every five years.

If Your Application is Denied:

  1. Understanding the Reasons for Denial:
    • The refusal letter from IRCC will detail why your application was denied. Common reasons include incomplete applications, failure to meet eligibility criteria, or doubts about the genuineness of the relationship.
    • Review the reasons carefully to understand any gaps or errors in your application.
  2. Options for Appeal or Reapplication:
    • Appeal: If you believe that the decision to deny your application was incorrect, you may have the option to appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board. There is a limited time (usually 30 days) to file an appeal after receiving the decision.
    • Reapplication: If appealing is not viable or your appeal is unsuccessful, you can address the issues noted in the refusal and reapply. It’s crucial to correct any deficiencies in your new application, such as providing additional documentation or more detailed information.