So, your partner is living in the U.S. and you want to sponsor them for Canadian immigration.
The first step for Canadians who want to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner is to make sure you are eligible. You have to be a Canadian citizen, First Nation, or permanent resident over the age of 18. You will also have to show Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that you can provide for yourself as well as the person you are sponsoring and any dependent children. The requirements to prove this will be different depending on if you are planning to live together in Quebec, or a different Canadian province.
There are also some other factors that could render you ineligible to sponsor. If you committed a violent crime, for example, you may be barred from sponsorship. Or, if you are still financially responsible for a previous spouse or common-law partner, and are still bound by the three-year undertaking. Another example could be if you declared bankruptcy and have not been discharged. These among other circumstances.
At the same time, your partner also has to be eligible to be sponsored. They too must be over the age of 18, and pass background, security, and medical checks.
If your spouse or common-law partner is living in the U.S. while you complete the application, you will be processed as outland applicants. This means that your files will eventually be transferred to a visa office in the U.S. You may live with your partner in the U.S., but you have to demonstrate that you will both move to Canada when the permanent residency application is approved. If you both decide to do the process in Canada, then you are processed under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in-Canada class and your foreign national spouse or partner has the chance to get an Open Work Permit.
Canada provides an application guide online, as well as a document checklist for people going through the process. These guidelines change regularly, and they will be different depending on your spouse’s residency status in the U.S. and where they are applying from. For example, if your spouse is a U.S. citizen coming from the U.S., they currently do not need to submit any extra forms or follow other special instructions. This may change if they have to submit official documents that were issued outside the U.S. because IRCC has different requirements on certain foreign documents.
Once you have all of your documents together and filled out, you can submit your application. IRCC will examine your application to see that you are in a genuine relationship that is not just based on getting Canadian permanent residence.
If the government determines that your application is incomplete, they will return it. Processing does not begin until the immigration department receives your completed application.
IRCC takes about 12 months to process spousal sponsorship applications, including a two or three month wait period while they ensure that the application is complete.
During the processing period, IRCC may ask the person who is applying for permanent residence to submit their biometrics. They will have 30 days to send them in. They may also ask for more information, or an in-person interview at any time. Those being sponsored will also be given 30 days to have a medical exam.
IRCC allows you to track and update your application status online.
When the immigration department makes a decision on your application, they will send you instructions about the final steps your spouse or common-law partner needs to take to become a permanent resident. They will have to go to a port of entry to meet an immigration officer for a landing interview. IRCC will send them instructions on what documents they need to bring, as well as the time and place of their interview.
Once the landing process is done, your spouse or common-law partner is officially a permanent resident. Then you just wait for the permanent resident card to come in the mail.
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