Spousal Sponsorship

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Family reunification, to see that families are reunited in Canada, is a primary objective under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Canadian citizens and permanent residents may sponsor certain family members. If you are sponsoring your conjugal partner or dependent child, you must submit an application under the Family Class. These applications are processed outside Canada. If you are sponsoring your spouse or common-law partner, you may sponsor them under the Family Class, or under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class.

Outside Canada Spousal Sponsorship under the Family Class:

You can apply outside of Canada if the person you want to sponsor lives outside Canada, the person you want to sponsor currently lives with you in Canada, but does not plan to stay in Canada while the application is being processed, or you are sponsoring your conjugal partner or dependent child. A benefit of sponsoring this way is that in the case of a refusal the sponsor has a right to appeal.

Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class:

You can apply inside of Canada if your spouse or common-law partner lives with you in Canada, has valid immigration status in Canada, and would like to apply for, and qualifies for an Open Work Permit so that they can work while the application is being processed. 

Definitions of Spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner

Spouse: A legal marriage (both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships).


Common-law: A person who has been living with another person in a conjugal relationship for at least one year (both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships).


Conjugal Partner: A person outside Canada who has had a binding relationship with a sponsor for at least one year but could not live with their partner (both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships). A foreign national residing inside Canada cannot be sponsored as a conjugal partner.

Who can Sponsor, be sponsored, length of undertaking and obligations

Who you can sponsor:

You can sponsor your spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner who is at least 18 years old, or your dependent child . The person you are sponsoring and their family members must pass background, security and medical checks. Your relationship is genuine (real) and was not entered into just to get permanent resident status in Canada.


To be eligible to sponsor:

  • You must be a Canadian citizen, or a permanent resident
  • at least 18 years old
  • living in Canada

*if you are a Canadian citizen living outside Canada, you must show that you plan to live in Canada when your sponsored relative becomes a permanent resident.  If you are a permanent resident living outside of Canada you cannot sponsor someone.


You must also be able to show that you can provide basic needs for: yourself, your spouse or partner, your spouse or partner’s dependent child(ren) (if applicable), your dependent child(ren) (if you’re sponsoring only your dependent child).


Note: In most cases, there is no low-income-cut-off (LICO) for spouse, partner or dependent child sponsorships. However, if either a spouse or partner you’re sponsoring has as dependent child who has dependent children of their own, or a dependent child you are sponsoring has a dependent child of their own, you must meet a minimum LICO score, which is determined by the Canadian government each year.


You may not be able to sponsor if certain situations apply to you. Such examples can include if you have been convicted of a violent crime, have declared bankruptcy which has not been discharged, or did not pay court-ordered alimony or child support. In addition to those mentioned, there are other situations which can make you ineligible. Contact us to find out if you may be ineligible to sponsor. 


Length of undertaking:

The length of undertaking, is the length of time that you are financially responsible for the person you sponsor. It begins the first day the person you sponsor becomes a permanent resident.


  • 3 years - for a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner
  • 10 years - Child under 13 years of age
  • 10 years, or until age 25, whichever comes first- Child 13 to 21 years old
  • 3 years - Child 22 years of age or older

*The length for undertaking in Quebec is different.


Your obligations as a sponsor:

When you agree to be a sponsor, you must sign an undertaking, promising to give financial support for the basic needs of your spouse or partner and their dependent children. Basic needs are: food, clothing, shelter and other needs for everyday living, dental care, eye care and other health needs that aren’t covered by public health services.


Before signing the undertaking agreement, you must make sure the people you sponsor won’t need to ask the government for financial help. If they receive social assistance, you’ll have to pay back what they received during the time you are legally responsible for them. You won’t be able to sponsor anyone else until you’ve repaid the amount.