Moving to a new country can be exciting and life-changing. Yet it is common for many immigration candidates to struggle to bring their families to their immigration destination of choice. Fortunately, this is different for Canada. With its diverse culture, strong economy, and welcoming environment, this land of maple leaves is popular with couples looking to start a new chapter. Some pathways allow you to move to Canada simultaneously, even if you achieve Canadian permanent residency at different times. This blog looks at how you can immigrate to Canada as a couple.
Canadian Spousal Sponsorship
One of the quickest ways to get your partner to Canada is through the Canadian Spousal Sponsorship Category (part of Family Class immigration). This is the best option if you already have a spouse living in Canada or are married to a Canadian who can sponsor you for Canadian permanent residency.
If you are applying as a couple, the Sponsor must establish permanent residence in Canada through one of the many immigration programs available. Only once the Sponsor has achieved permanent residence can an application be made for sponsorship of a spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner. Immigrating with your partner as a dependent means you can both apply for permanent residency together.
Let’s clarify the different relationships eligible for spousal sponsorship:
- In this case, the Sponsor and the Sponsored person are legally married. For marriage in Canada, a marriage certificate is required from the province where the marriage occurred. Marriage outside Canada must be lawful in the country where it occurred and in Canada. A same-sex marriage outside Canada can not be considered under this category, but an application can be made under the other two.
- Common-Law Partner
- In this category, the Sponsor and Sponsored person must cohabit consistently for at least one year.
- Conjugal Partner
- This category is for applicants who do not qualify under the other two categories for exceptional circumstances, such as same-sex marriage restrictions in their country of origin or other immigration barriers. The Sponsor and Sponsored person must demonstrate a level of commitment (financial ties/emotional ties/joint assets) that spans at least one year.
Sponsor Applicant Requirements
As a potential sponsor, you must tick several boxes to provide spousal sponsorship. You must:
- At least 18 years of age
- Be a Canadian permanent resident living in Canada/Canadian citizen
- Have no criminal history
- Not have been sponsored as a spouse within the last five years
Sponsored Applicant Requirements
The person you plan to sponsor will have to meet several eligibility requirements. They must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Submit all requested forms and documents
- Provide any further information required while processing occurs
- Undergo medical exams
- Have biometrics done
- Be a law-abiding citizen and not have a criminal record
Express Entry is a system that controls the federal government’s three main immigration programs, the Federal Skilled Workers Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canadian Experience Class.
If you wish to apply for Canadian permanent residency as a couple via the Express Entry system, you can follow one of two pathways:
- Either the main applicant lists the spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner as a dependent or
- They can be named as a secondary-applicant
You must consider that couples listing dependents can only apply to the Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Skilled Trades Programs because the Canadian Experience Class does not allow dependents and is more suited to single, young professionals.
Applying with a Main & Secondary Applicant
This method still requires applicants to provide proof of funds through the Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Skilled Trades Programs. Still, it works differently because your partner is seen as a contributor to the program. This means that when you create your profile through one of these programs under Express Entry, you have a maximum of 1,200 points possible, out of which only 40 are determined by your partner’s profile. This may not seem like a lot, but considering that the average successful CRS score over the last six months has been 485 to 490, it can make a real difference.
CRS Factors Your Spouse Adds/Subtracts
|Measured by the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB), which evaluates reading, writing, listening, and speaking ability in French and English.
|Level of Education
|Measures post-secondary education in or outside of Canada. Maximum points are awarded for Canadian education and degrees equivalent to a Master’s or higher.
|The highest points are awarded to individuals between the ages of 20 and 29, while no points are awarded to individuals past the age of 47.
|Canadian Work Experience
|To score higher, account for work experience obtained in Canada, preferably at least two years.
NOTE: It is essential to consider which partner has the strongest profile before applying to name that person as the main applicant. If your partner scores highly in the above categories, it’s worth listing them as a secondary applicant, but if they would score poorly, consider listing them as a dependent instead.
Applying with Dependents
Listing a partner as a dependent requires the main applicant to provide proof of sufficient funds to settle in Canada if you have dependents but does not consider your partner’s profile when calculating the CRS score.
When you immigrate to Canada, the money you’ll need to support your dependents will be based on the number of family members joining you. When calculating your family size for your move to Canada. You should include:
- Your spouse or common-law partner
- And then any dependent children
Take a look at the minimum amount of funds needed to immigrate to Canada as updated by the Canadian Government on April 25, 2023:
|Number of Family Members
|Funds Needed (in CAD)
|More than 7
|3,706 per family member
Provincial Nominee Program
Another ideal option for moving to Canada as a couple is the Provincial Nominee Program. The key here is for the partner with the strongest skill set, education, etc., to apply as the main immigration candidate. So if this is you, your spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner will be listed as a dependent on the application. As the main applicant, you must provide evidence of sufficient funds to settle in Canada, with the figure being determined by the number of dependents listed.
Alternatively, if both applicants are eligible, you can apply separately to respective immigration programs and withdraw from one when a successful Invitation to Apply (ITA) is issued with another. You should, however, note that this can be expensive if both applications are processed successfully, as there are double the fees attached.
Provinces Offering PNPs
You can apply for a provincial nomination in one of these 11 Canadian provinces:
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland & Labrador
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
- Northwest Territories
How to Apply to Immigrate to Canada as a Couple
Check Your Eligibility
Making a change like the move to Canada is a big step. So before you apply, ensure you and your spouse or partner are eligible. You’ll be required to answer some Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) questions on:
- Your nationality
- Your age
- Your language ability
- Your family members
- Your education
- Your overall work experience
- Your income and possession of settlement funds
- Employment offer information
Choose Your Ideal Immigration Program
While we have discussed three options you could consider to immigrate to Canada as a couple, there are over 80 different immigration streams, programs, and categories to explore for Canadian permanent residency. So spend enough time reviewing them to find the best fit for your profile and needs when considering how you will move to Canada.
Gather the Required Documents
Once you know which Canadian immigration program you and your spouse or partner will apply to, go through the checklist provided by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and make sure you have all the required documents. Applying without the documents needed will only lead to delays or an unsuccessful application. This would include:
- Valid passports
- A marriage certificate
- The evidence of a common-law union and cohabitation
- A medical report
- A police clearance certificate
You must apply online, regardless of the Canadian immigration program you choose. You can apply or manage your application on the IRCC site. You’ll only be able to submit a paper application if:
- You have a disability preventing you from applying online
- There is a problem with the online portal
My Spouse Would Like to Study in Canada. Is This Allowed?
If your spouse or common-law partner already has a work or study permit, they can continue to do so until their work or study permit expires. Remember, though, that it’s illegal to work or study without permission from IRCC.
If my Spouse and I Apply to the Provincial Nominee Program, How do we Get an Invitation to Apply?
The IRCC will send invitations to apply should your score be one of the highest in the pool you are put in.