The Spousal Sponsorship program is a subsection of the Family Class immigration category. Under this program, a Canadian or permanent resident may sponsor his or her spouse/common-law partner for permanent resident status in Canada. Both the Canadian citizen or permanent resident (the sponsor) and the foreign national (the sponsored person) must be approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC, formerly CIC) in order for the sponsored person to receive a visa.
There are two parts to the spousal sponsorship application:
The Outland sponsorship route is generally chosen when the sponsored person is living outside Canada. However, it is possible for a spouse/common-law partner living in Canada to apply through the Outland program. This option may permit the sponsored person to travel in and out of Canada throughout the application process. However, it is at the discretion of Canadian immigration authorities as to whether the sponsored person may re-enter Canada during the process.
Outland applications are processed through the visa office that serves the applicant’s country of origin, or where they have resided legally for at least one year. Processing times are listed by individual countries where the application is being made, which allows couples to make better informed decisions on which sponsorship route, Inland or Outland, they should pursue.
In cases of spousal and common-law partner sponsorships, IRCC is committed to issuing visas as quickly as possible in order to rapidly reunite families. IRCC aims to process applications submitted through this program within 12 months.
Regardless of the sponsorship path chosen, both the sponsor and the sponsored person must meet a number of specific requirements in order to be considered eligible.