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Marriage to a Foreigner FAQ

Canadian citizens and permanent residents may be eligible to sponsor their foreign spouse, common-law partner, same –sex partner, conjugal partner or fiancée to live as a permanent resident in Canada through the Family Sponsorship Program. More information can be found at the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.

How can I bring my foreign spouse to live with me in Canada?

You must sponsor your spouse under the Family Class of sponsorship. You can do this if she lives in another country or if she lives with you in Canada, even if her status is not legal here. As a sponsor you have to agree to support them financially for 3 years, whether they remain with you or not. At the same time your spouse must apply for permanent residence in Canada.

Can my partner just apply for permanent residence in Canada without me having to make a sponsorship agreement?

Yes. Your partner can apply independently to live in Canada under one of the other immigration categories e.g. as a Skilled Worker, however they must prove their eligibility under that class. The immigration process may be slower than had you sponsored them to live with you.

I want to sponsor my spouse to live with me in Canada. Should I apply from Canada or from the country where she is a citizen?

It is faster to sponsor your spouse from the country where she currently lives. You can reside in Canada or in the country where she lives whilst undergoing the sponsorship process. If you reside outside of Canada during this process, you can enter and exit Canada as often as you want.

How long will it take to sponsor my foreign wife to come and live with me in Canada?

If you apply to sponsor her from within Canada the process will take 12 to 18 months. If you start the sponsorship process from the country where she is legally resident it will take 6 to 12 months.

I am a permanent resident of Canada. Do I have to be a Canadian citizen to sponsor my husband to come and live with me in Canada?

You can sponsor your spouse to live in Canada if you are a permanent resident or a Canadian citizen aged 18 years of age or over.

My foreign girlfriend and I are not married, but we have lived together in Brazil for the last 2 years. I am a Canadian citizen. Does she have to apply for a visa to move to Canada with me?

As your common-law partner, you can sponsor your girlfriend under the Family Class to live in Canada as a permanent resident. As long as you have lived together continuously for one year and can prove that you are in a valid relationship your application will qualify under the Common Law sponsorship agreement.

How do I prove that my relationship with my common law spouse is valid and qualifies for family sponsorship?

You must have lived with your partner continuously for 12 months; absences for business and family visits are permitted. You need to prove that you have lived under the same roof for this period by providing property ownership details or rental agreements and rent slips in names, joint-name utility bills and mail addressed to both of you. Any documentation that proves that your affairs are combined such as joint bank account statements will also help prove your case.

How do I qualify as a sponsor?

You must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident aged 18 or over and you must be prepared and financially able to provide financially for your partner for 3 years. If you have defaulted on a sponsorship agreement in the past you will not be able to become a sponsor. There are also a number of other reasons for ineligibility:
  • You were convicted of a violent or sexual offence and have not received a pardon
  • You defaulted on alimony or child support payments
  • You defaulted on an immigration loan
  • You are in prison
  • You are declared bankrupt
My wife has children from another marriage. Can she bring them to live in Canada with her?

When you apply to sponsor your wife, you can also sponsor her children providing they are under 22 years of age and not married or in a common-law relationship. You must agree to provide for them financially for 10 years or until they are 25 years of age (whichever comes first).

If my spouse leaves me after two years in Canada am I still responsible financially for her and her children?

Yes. Even though your spouse no longer resides with you, you must continue to provide for her financially until the 3 year sponsorship agreement period is up. Even once this period is up you must continue to provide for her children until the 10 year sponsorship period is over or until they reach 25 years of age – whichever comes first.

How much does it cost to sponsor my British husband to live in Canada with me?

It costs $75 for each sponsorship application, a further $475 to sponsor your spouse. Your spouse must pay exactly the same fees to apply for his permanent residence in Canada.

If your spouse has any dependent children that you wish to include in the sponsorship agreement, you must add $150 for each child. On top of this you must agree to provide financial support for your spouse for 3 years. The period of financial support for dependent children is a lot longer.

Is there anything else I need to do once I file a sponsorship application for my foreign spouse?

Yes. Your spouse must file a permanent residence application for herself and for any dependent children you have agreed to sponsor. She must file her application(s) at the same time as you submit your application for sponsorship – both applications must be sent together along with the appropriate fees and documentation. Once your sponsorship application is approved her permanent resident application(s) will be sent to the relevant Canadian visa office. She must also attend a medical and obtain a police check from her country of residence.

My girlfriend has been living with me in Canada on a temporary work visa, which has now expired. Can she apply for permanent residence even though she is not legally resident here?

Yes. Citizenship and Immigration have made an exception for spouses and common-law partners who are not legally resident in Canada but who are legally married to a Canadian citizen or permanent resident (or who can prove that they have been living in a common law marriage for at least one year). Your partner will not be able to leave Canada whilst the sponsorship and permanent resident applications are being processed because she may not be allowed back into the country if she leaves.

My Filipina fiancée and I wish to get married and for her to come and live with me in Canada. Do we have to have our wedding in Canada or can we marry in the Philippines?

It doesn’t matter where you get married as long as the marriage is legal. If you marry in the Philippines you must follow Filipino laws to obtain a marriage license and register the marriage. A wedding ceremony without the legal paperwork will not count as valid. If you marry in Canada you must apply for a marriage license at the city hall and register the marriage once it has taken place.

I am a Canadian citizen and am planning on marrying my Chinese girlfriend this year. Once we are married will she automatically qualify for Canadian citizenship?

No. Marriage to a Canadian citizen does not automatically qualify for Canadian citizenship. You must first sponsor your partner to live in Canada and at the same time your partner must apply for permanent residence. This can be done from Canada or from the country where she is a permanent resident. Once you spouse has been a permanently resident in Canada for 3 years or 1,095 days in a 4 year period, she can apply for Canadian citizenship.

I met my Thai girlfriend on the internet and have visited her twice since we first met. Later this year we are planning to get married and for her to come and live in Canada. What do I need to prove my marriage to her is genuine?

You must prove that the relationship is genuine by providing evidence such as photos of the two of you together at different time periods e.g. some on your first visit, some on your second, proof of your trips to Thailand e.g. boarding passes, phone records showing her phone number and proving regular contact, emails or letters showing regular correspondence. If you have evidence of joint affairs, such as a joint bank account or property owned together, or if you send money on a regular basis to her this will also help prove your case.

When my husband comes to Canada can he work legally here?

If you successfully sponsor your husband and he obtains permanent residence status in Canada he will be able to legally work or study here. If he does not have legal residence status or a valid work visa he will risk deportation.

My girlfriend lives in Cuba with her ageing mother. When we marry we want to move to Canada and bring her mother with us. Is it possible for me to sponsor my girlfriend and her mother?

Your girlfriend’s mother does not qualify for sponsorship under the spousal sponsorship program. Once you are married, you must first sponsor your girlfriend and she must apply for permanent resident status in Canada. Once she is a permanent resident she can apply to sponsor her mother.

I live in Quebec and want to bring my foreign wife to live in Canada, but I have heard that there is a different procedure for Quebec. What must I do?

Quebec does have a different sponsorship procedure to the rest of the country. You must first apply to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) for sponsorship and your spouse must file a permanent resident application. Once you have filed your application for sponsorship you will receive a letter from the Government of Quebec informing you what to do next. The province of Quebec is the only Canadian province allowed to determine the eligibility of its sponsors. If you are approved by the Immigration ministry in Quebec you will receive an ‘Engagement and Certificat de sélection du Québec’. The immigration office will send this certificate and all other relevant documents to the Canadian visa office in your wife’s country of residence.

Will my wife and I have to have an interview before she is allowed to come to Canada?

It is unlikely that you will have to have an interview with Citizenship and Immigration. However if there is any doubt about the authenticity of your relationship you may be required to attend and interview and provide further evidence that your relationship is genuine.

Can I bring my same-sex partner to live with me in Canada?

Yes. You can sponsor a same sex partner in the same way that heterosexual couples can sponsor their partners. If you live together in a common-law marriage you need to prove that you have lived together for at least a year. If you are legally married you must ensure that your marriage took place in a country or province that legally recognizes same sex marriages.

I am recently divorced and now want to bring my Peruvian girlfriend to Canada to live. Am I eligible?

As long as you have a legal document proving your divorced status and you meet the eligibility requirements as a sponsor, you may apply to bring your girlfriend to Canada.

Does my spouse have to pass a medical exam before applying for permanent residence?

Yes. Your spouse and any dependents must pass a medical examination by an approved doctor. Your spouse will not be approved for permanent residence if they do not attend a medical exam and submit the results to the appropriate visa office. Your spouse will not pass a medical exam if the authorized medical practitioner determines that their health is a danger to public health and safety in Canada or if their medical condition will cause an excessive demand on Canada’s health system.

My husband and his son want to move to Canada to live with me, but he has a criminal record in Mexico. Will this affect his application?

Every applicant aged 18 and over must submit a police certificate when applying for permanent residence. Your husband must provide a police certificate from all countries where he has lived for 6 months and over since he was 18 years of age. Once your spouse has submitted his police certificate, the Canadian visa office will determine whether he will pose a security risk to Canada based on the nature of his conviction and the length of time that has passed since the crime occurred.

I want to bring my partner to live with me in Canada. Where can I find the sponsorship application forms?

You can find the sponsorship application forms on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.

What happens if my Brazilian wife’s application is refused?

If your spouse’s application is refused, you can appeal the decision. The visa office must inform your spouse of the reason relating to their refusal. If your application as a sponsor is refused you will not be able to appeal the decision and your spouse will not be able to proceed with her application under the Family Class.

Can I my Russian girlfriend come to live with me in Canada without us having to get married?

The only way you can sponsor your Russian girlfriend to live in Canada is if you have lived with her for at least a year and have documented proof of this - e.g. joint bank accounts, rental slips, jointly owned property etc. If you haven’t lived together for a year, you may still be able to sponsor her if you can prove that you have a conjugal relationship. This means that circumstances beyond your control prevented you from living together in a common law marriage e.g. if you were refused long term visas for her country of residence. If you decided not to live with her because you didn’t want to give up your job in Canada or did not want to leave Canada you will not qualify under this category of spousal sponsorship and she will have to apply and meet the requirements of a different immigration category.

My marriage certificate is written in Vietnamese. Is it still valid in Canada?

As long as your marriage is legal in Vietnam and was performed according to the laws of this country it will be legal in Canada. You should however have the document translated into English or French by a registered translator before submitting it with your sponsorship documents. This applies to any documents, which are not written in the official languages of Canada.

I want to get married to my Greek boyfriend in Greece. What documents do I need to do this?

You must consult with the Greek embassy in Canada or the Canadian Embassy in Greece to determine what documentation is required for the marriage to be legal in both countries. You will have to obtain an Affidavit of Marital Status from Canada to prove that you are free to marry. You should also take any divorce decrees or a death certificate if you are widowed along with your Canadian birth certificate and a valid passport.

Can I get married at the Canadian Embassy in Manila?

No. In most countries the Canadian Embassy does not perform or arrange marriage ceremonies although you can consult with the Embassy about the marriage laws in the country. In order for your marriage to be legal and recognized in both Canada and the Philippines you must obtain the necessary legal documentation required to register the marriage in the Philippines. A simple wedding ceremony does not count as a legal marriage.

How to bring your Cuban Spouse to Canada How to bring your chinese spouse to Canada How to bring your Brazil spouse to Canada
How to sponsor a refugee to Canada How to sponsor a child into Canada How to bring your partner to Canada

For paid assistance with Canadian sponsorship

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Marriage to a Foreigner
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