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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:
My wife has children from another marriage. Can she bring them to live in Canada
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
For paid assistance with Canadian sponsorship