In December 2016, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced its commitment to process the most spousal sponsorship applications within a 12-month time frame. The aim was to bring down processing times significantly. Before the announcement, outside Canada, applications were taking an average of 18 months to the process, and inside Canada, applications took up to 24 months or more.
New Application forms
Along with this new processing commitment, the IRCC has also introduced a new updated application package. From now onwards, there will only be one application package for both inside and outside Canada spousal sponsorship applications. This means that the same forms will be required by all visa offices.
The forms themselves have also been updated. For example, the relationship questionnaire has fewer questions than the previous one. Also, the applicant’s background information form will now not be required to be submitted upfront, instead, it can either be uploaded online within 30 days of submitting an acknowledgment of receipt or submitted through the mail.
Another important addition worth note is the new simplified application guide, as well as one document checklist, depending on whether the individual is sponsoring their married spouse, conjugal partner, common-law partner, or dependent child.
These new checklists are more interactive as the applicant will have to answer questions and follow instructions depending on the responses.
Proving your relationship
The proof that must be provided by the applicant should demonstrate the genuineness of the relationship, whether you are married, common-law partners, or conjugal partners. For example, if you are married spouses who can demonstrate that you have a child together are married for the first time, are currently living together, and have been married for at least two years, you will not be required to submit additional evidence of your relationship.
On the other hand, if you are required to submit additional evidence of your relationship, there are no limitations on how many pages or pieces of supporting material you can submit. For example, you can submit a maximum of 20 photographs to support your relationship, which should be taken at different times and places. Similarly, you can submit a maximum of 10 pages of letters, text messages, emails, or social media conversations.
Medical exams no longer need to be submitted upfront, IRCC will send instructions when the medical exam results are needed. Likewise, the police certificate requirement has been streamlined, meaning you will need to submit them from the country where you are currently living in, and the country where you have spent most of your adult life since reaching the age of 18.
In spousal sponsorships, the legitimacy of the relationship is the key element to being accepted. The Spousal Sponsorship Program was designed in a way that it doesn’t matter where you get married as long as your marriage is legally recognized in that country and in Canada. In terms of marriage being recognized in Canada, it is not so much the location, but the age and consent of the parties getting married that must comply with Canadian laws as well. For example, polygamous marriages forced marriages, and/or under-age marriages even if it’s legal in another country, won’t be considered legal in Canada.
How you receive updates regarding your application has also changed. Once you have successfully uploaded and submitted your application, you will then receive an email notification if there are requests for further documents or messages from the IRCC, and you will be able to read real-time status updates for your applications. You can also request to receive the different updates from the IRCC through text message when your application has been accepted into processing.
To learn more on how you can apply for the Family Sponsorship Visa, click here.