How Canada is modernizing the submission system for spouse and common-law partner sponsorship programs

IRCC is transitioning to 100% online applications for most permanent immigration programs, including both inland and outbound spouses and common law partner sponsorship. Read more about these changes below.

To improve customer service, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is fully digitizing the application submission process for Canada’s inland and outbound spouse and common-law partner sponsorship programs.

As of September 23, 2022, the IRCC previously allowed the submission of online applications for permanent immigration programs such as spousal sponsorships, but also gave applicants other ways to apply for these programs. Now, inland and outbound spouse and common-law partner sponsorship applications will be accepted online only.

According to IRCC, turning to a completely online system “gives customers more flexibility to apply from their devices and allows them to receive instant confirmation that they have successfully submitted their application.” will be facilitated through the active permanent residency portal, which has already allowed some immigrants to submit their applications online for other programs from March 31, 2021.

Note: Applicants who require accommodation and are unable to access the online system may contact IRCC to request an alternate submission format. If there is no such request, any application that has not been submitted online after the transition dates (more on that below) will be returned to applicants.

Eligibility for Spousal and Common-Law Partner Sponsorship Programs

To be eligible as a sponsor under the Outland or Inland Spousal and Common-Law Partner Sponsorship Program, you must:

  • be 18 years of age or older
  • Be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of Canada, or a person registered under the Canadian Indian Act
  • Live in Canada or are planning to return to the country
  • not receiving social assistance for reasons other than disability
  • be able to meet their basic needs, that of their spouse or partner and, if applicable, of dependent children
  • Be able to support your spouse/partner financially
  • Make sure your spouse will not need social assistance from the government

Additionally, a person arriving in Canada through a sponsor must be at least 18 years of age and pass all required background, medical and security checks.

Application Process for Spousal and Common-Law Partner Sponsorship Programs

Before applying for spousal or common-law partner sponsorship, ensure that both parties involved in the application (the sponsor and dependent applicants) meet all eligibility criteria.

Also, keep in mind that applying for spousal and common-law partner sponsorship requires the submission of two applications at the same time: one from a Canadian sponsor, actually along with their spouse/partner. To sponsor the dependent’s permanent residency application.

Now, you are ready to start the four-step application process. Applying to sponsor a spouse is a four-step process:

  1. Visit the Government of Canada website online to find the application package, which includes detailed instructions on how to properly complete the application
  2. Pay the application fee online, which includes:
    1. A processing fee for all persons involved in the application
    2. A “right of permanent residence” fee
    3. biometrics fee
    4. Other third-party fees, if applicable
  1. Submit your application through the Canada Permanent Residence Portal by following the submission instructions in the guide you downloaded
  2. Submit required supporting documents when prompted

So that includes spousal and common-law partner sponsorship. Now, what about other permanent residence-based immigration programs?

The IRCC has provided the following schedule for when each Canadian Permanent Immigration Program/category will be compliant with spousal sponsorship by transitioning to an online-only application system.

September 23, 2022: Provincial Nominee Program (Non-Express Entry); Quebec-selected skilled workers; Sponsoring a spouse or partner; sponsoring a dependent child; sponsoring a qualified relative; sponsoring an orphaned brother, niece or nephew, or grandson; adopting a child through the immigration process; Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot

October 7, 2022: Quebec-selected investors; Quebec-Selected Entrepreneurs; Self Employed People (Quebec)

14 October 2022: Agri-Food Pilot; start-up visa; Temporary resident permit holder applying for permanent residence

October 21, 2022: Home Support Worker Pilot; Home Child Care Provider Pilot (reopens new applications January 1, 2023); humanitarian and compassionate grounds; Self-Employed People (Federal)

October 28, 2022: Atlantic Immigration Program

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