Spouse Sponsorship in Canada

The family sponsorship program allows you (as a Canadian citizen or permanent resident) to sponsor a family member as long as certain conditions are meant. This can be a spouse, a parent, grandparent, a nephew, niece, aunt, uncle etc.

18 Nov 2021, 10:29 am


min read

Diana Dea Lodge, Sainte-Anne, Réunion

Live Update: Canada to speed up spousal sponsorship application processing

Canada certainly has a flexible and convenient family sponsorship program, but the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has taken several initiatives to further facilitate the process for immigrants.

IRCC has announced an increase in the number of staff responsible for reviewing spousal sponsorship applications by 66 percent. This will significantly reduce the long wait times, and the applications can be processed at a much greater speed. Canada is currently prepared to process and finalize around 6,000 spouse sponsorship applications before the end of the year.

You may also check your eligibility onilne:

Another great update by IRCC is the introduction of a new technology to digitize paper applications, making it possible to process applications even when working remotely. IRCC also plans to implement a facilitative biometrics measures. 

In the near future, a pilot technology will also be used to remotely conduct interviews of all the applicants. All of these measures will come together to accelerate spousal sponsorship, and almost 49,000 applications are expected to receive decisions by the end of the year.

This makes up for the confusion and ambiguity regarding spouse sponsorship applications due to the pandemic. Our partners at Great North Visa are more than ready to help you process your application via a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant. Book a consultation today!

You leave your country at the age of twenty to pursue higher studies in Canada. You leave behind your family, friends, the love of your life. You spend the next four years diligently studying, maybe going back for a quick visit here and there. You graduate. You get a job.”

You become a permanent resident or citizen of Canada. You go back home, marry the love of your life and sadly have to leave them behind all over again because while you are a citizen or a resident of Canada, they are not.

Unfortunately, this is a reality for hundreds and thousands of people who live in Canada.

Sometimes in search of a better life, one spouse comes to Canada leaving behind their husband or wife and their children (if they have any). It’s not an easy situation to deal with by any means. 

Keeping in mind how difficult life can be without family, Canada has an amazing family sponsorship program, making it easier than ever to bring your family to Canada. 

How to Sponsor Your Spouse to Canada?

The family sponsorship program allows you (as a Canadian citizen or permanent resident) to sponsor a family member as long as certain conditions are meant. This can be a spouse, a parent, grandparent, a nephew, niece, aunt, uncle etc. 

So if you recently got married or you are in a common-law relationship and you want to sponsor your spouse or common-law partner to Canada, you can do so under the spouse sponsorship application, which falls within the category of family sponsorship. This program makes spouse immigration to Canada an easy and straightforward process.

This is great news and means living without your spouse does not have to be a long term or permanent sacrifice! 

Who is Considered a Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada?

Since here we are talking about both, it could be better to clarify: in Canada common law partner is defined as someone you are living with in a conjugal relationship for one year or more while spouse is defined as someone you are married to legally.

Spousal Sponsorship Inside Canada

The Spousal or common-law partner in Canada class has two types of sponsorship: the spousal sponsorship inside Canada and the spousal sponsorship outside Canada.

The spousal sponsorship inside Canada was created for spouse immigration or to allow families in Canada to remain united. Basically, what it means is that if you are a permanent resident or Canadian citizen and your spouse (who is not one) is living with you in Canada, they can be sponsored to have legal temporary resident status. Your spouse must be:  

  • 18 years of age or older 
  • Undergo a medical and criminal background check 

As part of your application, you will have to provide proof you are in a real relationship with your spouse. In most cases, spousal sponsorship visa also enables the spouse to work while they wait for their papers to come through. If that’s of interest to you, make sure to complete the work permit application along with your spouse sponsorship application. 

If any dependents are in the picture, they would also need to be included in the application, unless they were born in Canada, in which case they are Canadian citizens by birth. 

There is a lot of information out there to process and some parts of the application process can seem confusing or frustrating, rather than making mistakes and having your application delayed, consult a RCIC to save yourself some time and headaches. 

Spousal Sponsorship Outside Canada

The spousal sponsorship outside Canada was created to enable one to sponsor a spouse who is living outside of Canada. They need to be at least 18 or older and will also need to have a background check. 

After you apply to be a sponsor through a spousal sponsorship outside Canada program, then you will need to complete an application form and pay a fee. The application can be submitted either online (which is highly recommended!) or via mail.

What is the Processing Time of the Spouse Visa Application?

The average processing time for the spouse visa application is approximately 12 months but there are some factors, which can affect how long it will take are.

Here are the factors that may affect the Spouse visa processing time:
  • Your spouse’s national country. Not surprisingly, applications from developing or third-world countries may take longer to process than the United Kingdom or the United States for instance. 
  • Is anything missing from the application? It is not only about meeting the spouse visa requirements – incomplete application or missing information will require more back and forth for both you and the agent reviewing your sponsorship application. So comb through it carefully, create a document checklist and make sure to include everything they ask for. 
  • How many applications are received? The volume of applications plays a significant role in how quickly your application will be processed. 

When you submit your application online, you can track the process through your online account and see what step its at. If at any point you have questions or need help, you can contact the Client Support Centre Services

How Much Does It Cost to Sponsor a Spouse to Canada?

It costs $1135 to sponsor a spouse (common-law partner or conjugal partner) to Canada.

This amount includes:

  • Sponsorship fee – $75
  • Processing fee – $475
  • Right of permanent residence fee – $500
  • Biometrics – $85

However, in certain circumstances, additional payments could be required.

Is There a Work Permit for a Spouse?

Yes, a spouse can get a work permit. The work permit must be approved before your spouse can legally work while waiting for a decision on the sponsorship. 

Your spouse may have completed their studies in Canada and they are anxious to begin their career or they may need to work for financial reasons or perhaps they already have a job (this may be especially pertinent for an individual on a student visa) which they want to continue doing. Whatever the case may be, you and your spouse may need or want the option of being able to work. If this is the case, make sure to apply for an open work permit. It takes a few months (4 to 5) to process, during this time your spouse must have a valid residency status, either as a student, a visitor or worker. 

What are the Requirements to Sponsor a Spouse to Canada?

Wanting to sponsor your spouse to Canada does not necessarily mean you will be allowed to.

There are special requirements for spouse visa sponsorship:
  • Need to be over eighteen years of age;
  • Meet certain financial expectations, i.e. cannot be bankrupt; 
  • Are either a: 
    • Permanent resident who is not under any removal orders; 
    • A Canadian Citizen; 
    • Or registered as an Indian under the Indian Act; 
  • Be physically residing in Canada; 
  • Have a clean criminal record free of any serious offenses; 

Please note, meeting the spouse visa requirements does not guarantee a successful spouse immigration process. Other factors can play a role in the decision-making and result in your sponsorship application getting rejected.

These factors can include:
  • If you have outstanding debts with the Canadian government; 
  • Are in receipt of welfare or social assistance (not related to a disability); 
  • Sponsored someone previously and failed to provide for them; 
  • Are in jail. 
What Is the Minimum Necessary Income to Sponsor a Spouse in Сanada?
As it is stated on the official website of the Canadian government: “In most cases, there isn’t an income requirement to sponsor your spouse or partner or dependent child. You only need to show that you have enough money to meet the income requirements if:
  • you’re sponsoring a dependent child that has 1 or more dependent children of their own, or
  • you’re sponsoring a spouse or partner that has a dependent child, and their dependent child has 1 or more children of their own.”
Are you eligible for a Canadian Visa?

Sponsorship Ban: 

Keep in mind that if someone entered Canada as a spouse who was sponsored, they are not eligible to sponsor a new partner for a period of five years. The same ban applies for the individual doing the sponsoring. 

For example, let’s say a man named Mikhail who is a Canadian Citizen sponsors his wife Lyla. She arrives in Canada in 2015 as a permanent resident. Unfortunately, the marriage does not work out and Mikhail and Lyla end up getting a divorce within a year.

Mikhail is still financially responsible for Lyla for a period of three years starting from the day she become a permanent resident. Let’s say they both meet someone else and get married again. Mikhail would not be allowed to sponsor his new wife during the three-year financial undertaking, while Lyla would not be permitted to sponsor her new husband for five years. 

If in this scenario, Lyla was receiving social assistance or welfare, Mikhail would need to repay the full amount before he can sponsor someone else again. 

These regulations help to prevent spouse sponsorship abuse where people get married and divorced simply for the sake of immigration to Canada. 


The Canadian government is a firm believer in keeping families united and the policies and processes they have in place are geared towards uniting families. If you have a spouse or common-law partner who lives with you or lives back home and you want them to live with you permanently, start the spouse immigration process, complete and submit an application today! 

There is a lot of information online and it can feel overwhelming and confusing, so consider contacting an RCIC approved consultant to go over everything with you. 

Get started on the Road to Permanent Residence
Sign up to our newsletter to receive our PR Roadmap delivered straight to your inbox, along with the latest immigration news!

The child of immigrant parents, I came to Canada when I was just five years old. I used to volunteer at an immigration resource centre and now work for the Canadian Federal Government. Writing is my passion and I hope my words can provide some help to a new immigrant or someone considering a move to Canada.

You may also like

Applicants who fulfill the Manitoba PNP eligibility requirements and are nominated by the province can enjoy an easy and straightforward immigration process. This article offers a wealth of information about the MPNP to help applicants prepare their applications and examine their options.


The family sponsorship program allows you (as a Canadian citizen or permanent resident) to sponsor a family member as long as certain conditions are meant. This can be a spouse, a parent, grandparent, a nephew, niece, aunt, uncle etc.


If you are living in Canda and dreaming of getting reunited with your family, do not hesitate! From Sponsorship Visa to Super Visa, your family is welcomed in Canada.


We have created a society where individual rights and freedoms, compassion and diversity are core to our citizenship. But underlying that idea of Canada is the promise that we all have a chance to build a better life for ourselves and our children.

Editor’s Note

You can trust the integrity of our balanced, independent immigration advice. We may, however, receive compensation from the issuers of some products mentioned in this article. Opinions are the author's alone. This content has not been provided by, reviewed, approved or endorsed by any advertiser, unless otherwise noted below.

Need Help?

Moving to a new country is a massive, life-changing decision with high stakes. You can’t afford to have things go wrong when the future of your career and family depends on the success of your visa application