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Spousal sponsorship is an immigration program that allows spouses, common-law and conjugal partners to reunite in Canada. Your spouse can obtain their permanent residence in Canada  through one of two streams: Family Class or Spouse, Common-law in Canada Class (see which program to apply under).

How Does Spousal Sponsorship Work?

The sponsor files an application with the Canadian government declaring that s/he is ready to provide for the basic needs of the sponsored spouse for 3 years after the permanent status has been granted.

If the sponsor meets all eligibility requirements, the Canadian government grants the sponsored partner their permanent residence status.

The sponsored spouse is given permanent residence either through a Permanent Residence Visa (for outland sponsorship applications) or through giving applicants their Permanent Resident Status (for inland sponsorship).

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What Is a Spouse Visa in Canada?

Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a Spouse Visa. What is generally referred to as the Canadian Spousal Visa, is nothing else than the Permanent Residence Visa under the Spousal Sponsorship Program.

Because it’s essentially a permanent residence application, the requirements for the sponsored partner are the same as for any applicant under the permanent residence program including having to pass a medical test and give biometrics.

Who is Eligible to Become a Sponsor in Canada?

You’re eligible to become a sponsor if you meet the following requirements:

  • You are at least 18 years of age
  • You’re a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or an Indian registered under the Canadian Indian Act
  • Live in Canada or will be living in Canada when your spouse/partner receives his/her permanent resident status.

In addition, you must also show that you will be able to cover the basic needs for yourself, your spouse/partner or their dependent children (as applicable).

Types of Spousal Sponsorship

Sponsoring a Spouse from Outside of Canada

This type of sponsorship is known as the ‘outland spousal sponsorship’, where the sponsor is living in Canada, while the spouse/partner is outside of Canada.

Sponsoring a Spouse from Inside Canada

This type of sponsorship is called ‘inland spousal sponsorship’ and refers to cases when your spouse/partner lives in Canada together with the sponsoring spouse or partner.

In addition to giving the sponsored spouse their permanent residence status, they can simultaneously hold a study permit / work permit or can apply for  an open work permit as needed.

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Outland Spousal Sponsorship vs. Inland Spousal Sponsorship

Type of SponsorshipOutland Spousal SponsorshipInland Spousal Sponsorship
Sponsorship Stream to Apply Under


Family Sponsorship Class


Spouse or Common-law Partner in Canada Class

Does the sponsored spouse reside in Canada?

No, the spouse/partner lives outside of Canada


The sponsored spouse doesn’t plan to stay in Canada while the application is being processed

Yes, the spouse/partner lives in Canada


The sponsored spouse is in Canada while the application is being reviewed

Right of appealCan appeal in case of rejectionCan’t appeal a rejected application, will need to re-apply
Right to work Will only be allowed to work once permanent status is issuedWould like to apply for and qualifies for an Open Work Permit
Resident Status in CanadaDoesn’t have a resident status in Canada or doesn’t reside in Canada while application is being processedHas a valid temporary resident status in Canada or is exempt from needing this status

Dual Intent Spouse Sponsorship

Dual Intent Sponsorship allows spouses to apply for a visitor visa while at the same time applying for Spousal Sponsorship.

The main advantage this gives is that under the dual intent sponsorship, you can come to Canada and live with your spouse while your application is being processed. This is a huge advantage considering that it takes from 6 months up to two years to process all the paperwork.

In addition, once you are in Canada, you can apply for inland sponsorship, which automatically opens an opportunity for you to work, and generate extra income for your household.

Dual intent applications require extra attention from the applicant since the temporary resident status has to be maintained as the law requires.

Leaving Canada as a temporary resident will automatically cancel your status as a student, visitor or worker.

If you leave the country and lose your temporary residence, you will be required to reapply under the outland sponsorship class.

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Is it Possible to Withdraw a Sponsorship Application?

Yes, you can withdraw your application before the final approval has been granted. To be able to withdraw your application, you will need to submit your cancellation request to IRCC in writing and once approval is granted, the undertaking will be cancelled.

Once your application has been processed and your financial undertaking has been approved, you will not be able to withdraw your undertaking and will have to sponsor your spouse for 3 years from the date permanent residence status has been granted.

Spousal Sponsorship Fees

The sponsorship fee consists of the following payments:

  1. Sponsorship Fee – $75
  2. Principal Applicant Processing Fee – $490
  3. Right of Permanent Residence Fee – $515

The total amount therefore comes down to CAD$1080.

The right of permanent residence fee (RPRF) is refundable and will be returned in case your application is rejected. To avoid delays in processing your application, it is recommended that RPRF is paid upfront.

Spousal Sponsorship Application Processing Times

Outland Spousal Sponsorship Processing Time (Spouse is outside of Canada) – 23 months.

Inland Spousal Sponsorship Processing Time (Spouse lives in Canada) – 15 months.

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How to File an Application for Spousal Sponsorship

There are two main ways to file a Spousal Sponsorship Application:

  1. File all paperwork on your own. If you choose to take care of all paperwork on your own, start by filling out this checklist (form IMM5533e) – it will help you to make sure you meet all the requirements.
  2. Use an authorised representative. Authorised representatives (immigration consultants, immigration lawyers) are persons who are officially authorised by the Canadian government to represent their clients. Livin Immigration is led by Justyna Dzioch, who is a regulated consultant, officially authorised to represent her clients on any immigration-related matters.

Common Terms And Definitions

Spouses – civil union of two individuals (same or opposite gender) which is officially recognized for immigration purposes. Can be performed in or outside of Canada (in the latter case must be legally recognized in the country where it took place and in Canada).

Common-law partners – a marriage-like union of two individuals (same or opposite gender) as long as they have been together for at least 12 months.

Conjugal Partners – partners (same or opposite gender) which have been together for at least one year and who have been separated as a couple due to reasons beyond their control (e.g. immigration barrier, religious reasons or sexual orientation).

Outland Sponsorship – type of sponsorship, where the principal applicant is sponsoring their spouse or partner who is outside of Canada at the time of filing the sponsorship application.

Inland Sponsorship – type of spousal sponsorship where the sponsor and the sponsored spouse/partner live in Canada at the time of filing the sponsorship application.

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