Canada Spousal Sponsorship Programs for 2023

February 1, 2023


  • Sinethemba Phongolo

You've landed your dream job in Canada, are excited for your new beginning and can't wait to be all settled. But somehow things feel incomplete. You have not quite figured out how you'll survive without your significant other.

Carving out a life for yourself on a new continent, in a new country is no easy feat. It's even more difficult when your mission to a new frontier has to be a solo one. There are, however, several options for you and your partner to immigrate to Canada as a couple.

Your partner will be able to join you via the Canada Spousal Sponsorship program or as a dependent. Relationships that qualify for immigration sponsorship to Canada include common-law, spousal, conjugal and same-sex partners.

What are the Canada Spousal Sponsorship Programs?

Canada Spousal Sponsorship Programs are immigration programs created to ensure that life partners(spousal, common-law or conjugal) are able to live together in their new country of choice. If your husband or wife is a Canadian citizen or has permanent residency, they'll be able to sponsor your application.

In order to meet the criteria that enables you to sponsor your life-partner, you will need to be:

  • A Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • An adult aged 18 years +
  • Financially stable and able to support your partner
  • Cleared and not in possession of have a criminal record

How to Apply for a Spousal Sponsorship Program?

To start the spousal sponsorship process, two applications must be made. Firstly, you will have to apply to become a sponsor. Then your spouse or partner will have to apply for permanent residency. These applications will have to be submitted together. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is currently testing a new online immigration application for spousal sponsorship.

Below are the four stages to the process.

Step 1: Download Your Application Package

This application package consists of a document checklist for you and your partner, along with a guide to ensure that everything is filled in correctly.

For your application: Make sure you follow instructions provided in the guide. Application fees are non-refundable

  • Be sure that you're eligible to become a sponsor.
  • Ensure that the application is completed truthfully
  • Submit a complete application form

Step 2: Pay all Application Fees

Fees are likely to include all processing costs. This includes the application for permanent residency and biometric fees, which will have to be paid online once your application has been submitted to avoid delays. The biometric fees will cover the fingerprint and photo process, as well as the collection of these. You may also have to pay third party fees for a medical screening and police clearance document. Read the instruction guide to find out which fees you will need to pay.

Step 3: Submit The Forms

Once your application forms are complete, they can be submitted to be processed. Include a copy of the checklist at the top of your documents to ensure a speedy application process, once documents are received.

If you have applied for the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada program, and your partner has also applied for an open work permit, you will need to include the relevant work permit documents, along with the receipt of the work permit application fee. You can send documents by mail or courier, to the address provided.

Note: Documents will be returned if they are incomplete or fees haven’t been paid. Tip: Make photocopies of your forms, just to be safe and in case you need to refer to them at some stage in the process.

Step 4: Send Additional Information

Your partner will need to provide documentation of their medical evaluation and police clearance. Because documents are only valid for a year, you may be asked to send new ones, should the process take longer. Your spouse or partner will also be asked for their biometrics.

Step 5: Wait for Application Decision

You will be notified of the result of your application. Whatever the outcome, instructions for your next step will be provided.

Inland Sponsorship and Outland Sponsorship

A highlight on some of the differences between Inland and Outland Sponsorship

Outland Sponsorship

Canada Outland spousal sponsorship is for permanent residency applications for your partner via a visa office outside of Canada.

Inland Sponsorship

The Canada Inland spousal sponsorship route can be taken when both partners are in Canada, and the sponsor submits an application for the partner to remain in the country as a permanent resident.

The following information presents a broader perspective on some of the alternative sponsorship application streams you can use besides Canada Spousal Sponsorship Programs.

Express Entry

Couples who decide not to go the Spousal Sponsorship way, can opt for the Express Entry System instead. This system consists of three main immigration options: the Federal Skilled Workers Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canadian Experience Class.

If you choose this option, you would, as the main applicant, list your partner as a dependent or a secondary-applicant. You’d also need to provide evidence of funds. It should be noted that the Canadian Experience Class doesn’t allow for dependents.

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP)

If you are the more skilled partner, you can apply for Provincial Nominee Programs. Your spouse or partner will then be classified as a dependent. You'll be required to provide bank statements to prove that you meet the immigration sponsorship income requirements to settle in Canada. List of PNPs as per each province:

Alberta PNP
British Columbia PNP
Manitoba PNP
New Brunswick PNP
Nova Scotia PNP
Northwest Territories PNP
Newfoundland and Labrador PNP
Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program
Prince Edward Island PNP
Quebec Immigration Programs
Saskatchewan PNP (SINP)
Yukon PNP

What's the Difference Between a Spouse, Common-Law and Conjugal Partner?


A spouse would be defined as someone who you are legally married to. You would have to provide a marriage certificate from the country you got married in to confirm the union. According to the IRCC, a same-sex marriage that was registered outside of Canada will not fall within this category. You will, however, be able to apply under the other categories.

Common-Law Partner

A common-law partner, in the context of immigration, means that you and your partner would have lived together in a marriage-like relationship for a minimum period of a year. You would have to be able to provide evidence you’ve been living together for 12 months in a row, without time apart. Evidence can include a lease, bill or any other official document with both of your names and address on it.

Conjugal Partner

A conjugal partner, in the context of immigration, is someone you live with and/or are in a state of cohabitation with but is neither your spouse or common-law partner and to whom you have no intentions to marry. Should you sever your relationship with a conjugal partner, it will be left to your discretion whether or not you want to proceed with sponsoring your ex-partner for permanent residency status.

How can we Help you to Apply?

Immigration is a daunting process, with lots of procedures and regulations to adhere to. Use our accredited Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) for your best chance of success with Canada Spousal Sponsorship.

Our qualified RCICs are registered with the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC) and are here to assist with your visa evaluation. MDC will liaise on your behalf with all these trusted RCICs who invest your application with the attention it deserves to ensure that not even one requisite item is out of order or missing and avoid hindering the expedient processing of your application documents.


How Much Money Will I Need to Sponsor My Spouse in Canada?

If you decide to apply for a spousal sponsorship for your spouse or partner, you'll be financially responsible for them. You'll need to take care of all their basic needs for the first few years of their permanent residency. While there's no particular income figure required, you would have to prove that you are by the means to support them.

What is the Timeline for Spousal Sponsorship Applications?

While the application process tends to vary from case to case, it can take up to a year for both inland spousal sponsorship or outland spousal sponsorship.

Will I be Allowed to Remain in Canada While I Wait for Spousal Sponsorship Approval?

Yes, it's possible. The country has both inland and outland spousal sponsorship options, so you can apply to sponsor your loved one whether you're in Canada or abroad.

Should you and your spouse or partner be in Canada during the application process, you'll have to make sure that your status is legal. If you are applying while in Canada, you are allowed to stay in Canada while waiting for permanent residence. If you're on a temporary visa, you'll have to renew your permit before it expires.