It’s a fact that you can do any immigration application yourself and send it to IRCC (formerly CIC) – it is not required that you hire an immigration consultant or lawyer. But, there are many pitfalls to submitting your application on your own without even having a professional review it for mistakes which could cause unnecessary delays in processing.
In this series of articles we will examine common mistakes people make when completing applications on their own. At Immigroup we have had too many clients to count who have made serious errors on their applications which could have been avoided if they had gotten professional help from the beginning. This week we will discuss common mistakes in spousal sponsorship applications.
1. Using the wrong version of the application forms
All of IRCC’s application forms are available online at www.cic.gc.ca. However, these forms are updated frequently and without warning. Sometimes they are even updated several times within a year. If you submit your sponsorship application using an older version of the forms, IRCC could return the application to you without processing and ask that you complete the application again using the current forms.
This does not always happen, and sometimes it depends on how old the forms that you used are. For example, if the current forms are from July 2016, and you submitted forms from January 2016, the likelihood of your application being returned is less than if you submitted the forms from June 2013. You can tell what version of the forms you are using by checking the bottom left corner of the page for the form number such as IMM 5555 and a month and year such as (09-2016).
The reason IRCC updates the forms is because they ask for new or additional information than they had previously. The best way to avoid this problem is simply to ensure that you have the newest forms.
2. Answering questions incorrectly on the application forms
The most common mistake people make when applying to sponsor their spouse is not asking for help if they do not understand what a question means on the application. Frequently people mistake the meaning of a question and answer it with irrelevant or incorrect information.
One example is misunderstanding who can be listed as a dependant or a family member for the purposes of a sponsorship application. Just because someone is a relative who is financially dependent on you, does not mean that they can be counted as a dependant on your sponsorship application. For more information on who can be listed as a dependant on a sponsorship application, click here.
If you are not sure of the meaning of a question, you can call IRCC’s call centre or you can talk to a professional such as an immigration consultant or lawyer.
3. Leaving questions blank on the application forms
It’s very important to answer all questions on the application forms. Leaving a question blank not only omits important information, but it also looks suspicious to IRCC. If the information on a question does not apply to you, always write “N/A” or “Not Applicable” in the answer space.
Leaving questions blank is a sure-fire way to have your application returned to you.
4. Misunderstanding who is the Sponsor and who is the Applicant
IRCC, like all government offices, uses many terms that are specific to their field. It is easy to get confused by all of the legal jargon which means one thing in everyday language but something totally different in terms of an application with IRCC.
For a spousal sponsorship application, the Sponsor and the Applicant have to fill out separate forms. The “Sponsor” is the person who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who is bringing their loved one to live in Canada; the “Applicant” is the person who is applying to come and live in Canada as a permanent resident.
Make sure that each person fills out the appropriate form to send to IRCC. If the forms are completed by the wrong person, the application will be returned to you.
5. Incomplete or inadequate supporting documents
Every sponsorship application contains documents in addition to the application forms as proof that your relationship is real and genuine. The kinds of documents that are typically submitted include:
- Photos of the couple
- Greeting cards exchanged between the couple
- Receipts for money sent from the Sponsor to the Applicant
- Text messages, emails, and letters exchanged between the couple
- Phone records showing calls between the Sponsor and Applicant
- Facebook status showing the Sponsor and Applicant are married or in a relationship
If you do not submit enough of these documents, or if you don’t include any at all with your application, IRCC may return the application to you unprocessed or they could even refuse the application because of lack of proof that the relationship is real.
IRCC asks for such as financial documentation, identification documents, and references. Everything you provide must include the information IRCC is looking for – if you provide a document but it does not have the important information, it is the same as if you did not have the document at all.
6. Fingerprints done incorrectly
All applicants for permanent residency in Canada must provide fingerprints to IRCC, including those applying under the family class or spousal sponsorship category. Make sure that fingerprints are done by the RCMP in Canada (or one of their recognized agents), or the local police in the applicant’s home country. Applicants from the USA must provide fingerprints from the FBI as well as every state they have lived in for 6 months or more.
It is not acceptable to simply put your fingers on a stamp pad and put them on a piece of paper included with the application. You may laugh, but this has actually been done!
7. Medical examination done by non-designated doctor
Just as applicants have to provide fingerprints to become permanent residents of Canada, they must also have a medical examination to ensure that they are not carrying diseases that could be a threat to public health such as tuberculosis (TB), and that they will not be a burden on the government healthcare system.
There is a list of doctors inside Canada as well as in other countries around the world who are allowed to conduct medical tests for the purposes of immigration to Canada. The applicant must see one of these doctors only for their tests. Any tests performed by a doctor who is not on the list will be rejected and the applicant will have to provide another test done by an acceptable doctor.
8. Submitting the application under the wrong category
Spousal Sponsorship applications are a part of the family class stream to become a permanent resident in Canada. If this is your goal, you should not apply for immigration under any other class or category.
9. Miscellaneous DON’Ts
- Do not submit an application for spousal sponsorship that contains untruthful information or is otherwise fraudulent – this is a federal crime.
- Do not include inappropriate pictures as part of the photo evidence of your relationship.
- Do not hire a lawyer or consultant to help with your spousal sponsorship application when you have not yet met the person you are going to marry – there are unscrupulous representatives out there who will still take your money!
- Do not apply to sponsor a spouse if you have not yet divorced from your previous spouse
Keep in mind that IRCC cannot return or refuse your spousal sponsorship application without a good reason. They must have medical or criminal grounds to refuse a sponsorship application, or believe that the relationship is not genuine. The best way to maximize your chances of approval is to be honest and don't deviate from the instructions of the application. And if you are unsure of anything, consult a professional or contact IRCC.
Also remember, if you do an overseas spousal sponsorship you have the option to appeal if the application is refused, but not if you do an inland sponsorship application. Click here for more information.
Mistakes on a Sponsorship Application