Spousal sponsorship is a pathway through which Canadian citizens or permanent residents can sponsor their spouse or common-law partner to become a permanent resident of Canada. This process is popular, but it can also be lengthy and, at times, emotionally taxing due to the waiting and uncertainty.
1. Pre-Application Preparation:
- Document Collection: Before you even apply, gather all the necessary documents. This includes marriage certificates, proof of relationship (photos, letters, communication logs), police clearances, medical exams, financial proof, etc. This stage can vary in duration, but it’s wise to take a couple of months to ensure you have everything.
- Medical Examination: The foreign spouse should get a medical examination by an IRCC-approved panel physician. The results are typically valid for one year.
2. Submission of Application:
Once you have all the required documents and forms completed, you submit the application. Ensure all forms are correctly filled out to avoid return or refusal of the application.
3. Application Processing – A General Breakdown:
- Acknowledgment of Receipt (AOR): 1-2 months after submission
- You’ll receive an AOR, a letter confirming that your application has been received.
- Sponsor Approval: 3-5 months after submission
- IRCC first assesses the eligibility of the sponsor. If approved, the application moves forward. If not, the application is returned or refused.
- Processing of Sponsored Spouse: 8-12 months (or longer, depending on the visa office)
- This phase varies significantly depending on the country from which the spouse is being sponsored. Some visa offices process applications faster than others.
- During this stage, the genuineness of the relationship is assessed, and background checks are conducted.
- Request for Passport & Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF) Payment: Approximately 10-14 months after submission
- If everything is in order, IRCC will request the passport of the sponsored spouse to stamp the immigrant visa. Around this time, you’ll also be asked to pay the RPRF.
- Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) & Immigrant Visa Issuance: 11-16 months after submission
- After the sponsored spouse’s passport is returned, it will have an immigrant visa attached, and they’ll receive the COPR document.
4. Landing in Canada:
With the COPR and immigrant visa, the sponsored spouse can now travel to Canada. They must land in Canada before the expiry date on the visa, which is typically set as one year from the date of the medical exam.
Tips & Considerations:
- Application Type Matters: The timeline can vary depending on whether you apply through the ‘Inland Spousal Sponsorship‘ (both partners are inside Canada) or ‘Outland Spousal Sponsorship‘ (foreign spouse is outside Canada) route. Inland might allow the foreign spouse to stay in Canada during processing but can be riskier if refused, while Outland can be processed when the spouse is in Canada or abroad.
- Stay Updated: Always keep an eye on the official IRCC website or your online account for updates on your application. Delays can occur if IRCC requests additional documents or information.
- Be Prepared for Delays: Various factors can delay processing times: incomplete applications, the need for an interview, security or background check issues, or high volumes of applications.
- Consider Legal Help: If your situation is complex or if you’re unsure about the process, it might be beneficial to consult with an immigration lawyer or consultant.
The waiting game with spousal sponsorship can be challenging, as it requires patience and understanding. Always ensure that your documentation is thorough and genuine to ensure the smoothest possible process.