Understanding Inland Spousal Sponsorship for Canada
Canada has made it easier for citizens and residents already living in the country to sponsor their spouses to reside with them in Canada. The inland spousal sponsorship program enables Canadian citizens and residents to sponsor their spouses and be together permanently in Canada.
Individuals applying for the inland spousal sponsorship visa can remain living in Canada during the application process. Canada’s immigration department processes most inland spousal sponsorship applications within 12 months of them being made.
Who can apply for the inland spousal application?
The sponsorship program has been provided for permanent residents or Canadian citizens seeking to bring their spouse or common-law partner to Canada to reside permanently.
There are a few restrictions that applicants have when applying for spousal sponsorship.
Applicants can qualify for inland spousal sponsorship by:
- The spouse or partner already possessing temporary resident status through work, studying, or visiting Canada.
- Individuals must be eligible to apply for an open work permit. This allows the individual to work while waiting for a decision on their immigration status.
It is important to note that individuals who travel outside of Canada during the inland spousal sponsorship process and are denied re-entry will have their application canceled.
Inland Spousal Sponsorship processing time
The processing time for Inland Sponsorship applications has reduced significantly to 12 months from date of submission. Do allow an extra two months for any unforeseen circumstances such as accommodating requests for further information from the Department of Immigration.
Inland Spousal Sponsorship timeline
The majority of applications for In-Canada sponsorship receive a final decision after 6 – 10 months of processing. However, this is the processing time from submission. Because of the nature of documentation required some applicants can take up to a further 6-7 months to gather all their documentation, especially if this documentation needs to be requested from overseas and translated.
What are the inland spousal sponsorship requirements?
There are certain requirements that a permanent resident or Canadian citizens must meet to be eligible for spousal sponsorship. Requirements include:
- Individuals must be a Canadian citizen or permanent Canadian resident living in the country
- Applicants must a minimum of 18 years of age when submitting their application
- Individuals must not have received inland spousal sponsorship to Canada within the previous five years
- Applicants cannot be bankrupt, incarcerated, or charged with a serious criminal offense
- Permanent Canadian residents cannot be under a removal order
Spousal Sponsorship Minimum Necessary Income (MNI)
Canadian Nationals or Permanent Residents who sponsor only one spouse or partner with joint rights do not need to provide financial documentation or meet any of the minimum standards required by the Canadian Government for other types of sponsorship applications, such as required income.
Support for a parent, grandparent or other relative must be met by the Minimum Necessary Income, as must support for the child or spouse of that spouse. The sponsor must also provide all required income, as well as at least $5,000 per year for the parent and $2,500 for each child.
For families without financial means, it can be difficult to apply for spousal sponsorship in Canada, especially if the sponsorship is only on a temporary visitor visa, which prevents the visa holder from working legally in Canada.
To reduce the stress caused by the long processing time, applicants can apply for an open work permit for a spouse before submitting their sponsorship application. This will allow the applicant to work legally for an employer anywhere in Canada. In order for the recipient to obtain an “open work permit” for spouses, they must have a valid temporary visa and live in the same home as their spouse or partner.
Quebec inland spousal sponsorship
Quebec has different requirements for immigration compared to other provinces in Canada. Applicants may have additional requirements to meet to qualify for the inland spousal visa in Quebec. Quebec requires applicants to possess valid temporary status in Canada as a student, worker, or visitor.
In addition, applicants must:
- Not be a blood relative of the sponsor
- Be a minimum of 18-years-old
Inland Spousal Sponsorship Open Work Permit
Working in Canada without a proper work permit is illegal and can jeopardize future immigration applications. However, Foreign Nationals who are going through the process of being Sponsored by a Spouse or Partner for Permanent Residence may be eligible to apply for an open work permit. This open permit is like a bridging visa in that it allows the holder to work in Canada (unrestricted) until a final decision is made about their Inland Sponsorship application.
Criteria for Open Work Permit
- the foreign national must be applying for spousal sponsorship from inside of Canada through the inland spousal sponsorship process.
- applicants must meet the full eligibility criteria required for the program.
If an applicant is successful in their work permit application they will be issued an open work permit authorizing them to work in any location in Canada while their permanent residency application is processing.
The application procedure for the spousal sponsorship open work permit varies depending on the applicant’s status in Canada and the stage of their permanent residency application.
How to apply for an Open Work Permit
If a sponsorship application has not been submitted then the sponsorship, permanent residence, and open work permit applications may all be submitted together in a single envelope in hard copy.
If a permanent residence application has been submitted but has not yet received approval in principle then the open work permit application may be submitted in hard copy to the Case Processing Center in Edmonton.
Should a Permanent Residence application have already been approved in principle then the open work permit application may be submitted online to the center in Edmonton.
What must you prove for the inland spousal sponsorship?
Applicants must prove certain criteria is met when applying for the inland spousal visa. A sponsor must prove their relationship to the sponsored individual. The sponsor must prove that they are legally married or are in a common-law relationship with the sponsored person. The relationship must be recognized by the IRCC.
The marriage must be proven to be legally valid. To meet this requirement, the marriage will need to have been performed in Canada or outside the country where it is legally recognized by both Canada and the country it was performed in.
Same sex marriages must be conducted in Canada or in a country that recognizes same sex marriages as legal. If a marriage was not valid in the country where it was performed, the inland spouse sponsorship application can still be made. However, it must be proven the couple is in a common-law relationship.