Are you thinking of sponsoring a significant other? In other words, are you in a stable relationship with a foreign national that you wish to sponsor to come to Canada and obtain permanent resident status? Although you will use the same application form to sponsor your partner or spouse, the steps you have to take to will be somewhat different depending on what type of relationship you have with the person you wish to sponsor.

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The first thing you should realize is that there are 3 categories of partners under Canadian immigration law:


Meaning of "Spouse" for the purpose of Immigrating to Canada

  • A person legally married to you.
  • The marriage must be legally recognized both:
    • In the country where it took place, as well as
    • In Canada.
  • A person who is also at least 18 years old.
  • A spouse can also be of either sex.

Please note. IRCC NO LONGER recognizes the following marriages:

  • Marriages where one or both persons were not present, for example
  • Marriages by phone, fax, internet, or proxy.

In other words, both persons must be physically present at the marriage ceremony.

Also, please note that you do not have to register the marriage in Canada for your marriage to be recognized in Canada.


Meaning of "Common Law" Partner for Sponsorship or Immigration Purposes

  • A person who is NOT legally married to you.
  • A person who is also at least 18 years old.
  • A common-law partner can be of either sex.
  • A person who has been living continuously with you for at least 1 year (12 consecutive months) in a marriage-like relationship and with whom any period apart has been brief and temporary.

Please note that your common-law partner must have legal status in Canada even if they are living abroad. In other words, any inadmissibility issues must be cleared up before you apply to sponsor them to come to Canada.

If your common-law partner is already living in Canada and has to travel abroad, for example for a family emergency, make sure they apply for an extension of their study or work permit in case it expires while they are visiting abroad.


Meaning of "Conjugal Partner" for the purposes of Sponsoring your Partner to Canada

  • A person NOT legally married NOR in a common-law relationship with you.
  • A person who lives OUTSIDE of Canada. (You CANNOT claim a conjugal relationship if your partner is living in Canada.)
  • A person who is at least 18 years old.
  • A person who CAN’T live with you nor marry you in their country of residence because of legal and/or immigration restrictions such as:
    • Marital status – divorce is not permitted despite being separated, for example;
    • Sexual orientation – same-sex relationships are prohibited, for example;
    • Persecution – marriage between differing religious groups is prohibited, for example.
  • The relationship must be more than just physical. It has to be genuine and mutually interdependent and one that has been prevented from becoming a marriage for reasons such as the ones listed directly above.

Each of these types of sponsorship have slightly different requirements though the overall process is the same. Let’s dig a little deeper and see what the different requirements are.


What Sponsorship Class do I choose?

This is one of the first things you’ll have to decide when filling out your sponsorship application form, and it will depend on what type your spouse/partner is. When sponsoring your spouse/partner you have two classes to choose from:


Family Sponsorship Class (Outland)

  • If you are sponsoring a conjugal partner you must choose this class.
  • If your spouse/partner lives outside of Canada, you must choose this class.
  • If your spouse/partner will not be in Canada during the application process (they have to return to their home country for some reason, for example), you must choose this class.
  • If you plan to file an appeal should your application be unsuccessful, choose this class.


Spouse or Common-law Partner in Canada Class (Inland)

  • If your spouse/common-law partner lives with you in Canada, choose this class.
  • Your spouse must have valid immigration status in Canada - generally, they have a work or study permit or a visitor visa or some other temporary resident status - if you choose this class.
  • If your spouse/common-law partner wants to apply for an open work permit while the sponsorship application is being processed, choose this class.

As you can see, if your sponsorship is for a conjugal partner you must choose the Family Class while if it is for a spouse or common-law partner which class you choose depends on whether they are living with you in Canada at the time of the application.


Do I have to provide proof of my relationship?

Yes, you do. Here are some of the suggested ways of proving your relationship with your spouse/partner:

  • Spouse: here the proof is straightforward and involves submitting a copy of your marriage certificate (or whatever legal document is provided in the country where you were married).
  • Common-law partner: the following can be used as proof:
    • Documents showed shared ownership of a residential property
    • Copies of joint leases or rental agreements
    • Copies of bills for shared utility accounts
    • Copies of driver’s licenses or insurance policies that show a shared address for both you and your partner
    • Identification documents that show a shared address for example.
  • Conjugal partner: in this case you need to give proof that you were unable to marry or live together in your conjugal partner’s country, in addition to proving you are in a relationship.


⚠️The list of supporting documentation to prove your relationship will be longer, but your representative at Immigroup can help you navigate this part. If you have any question please give us a call at 1-866-760-2623.

Who do I begin to sponsor my partner?

Here is a brief overview of the application forms you will need for your Sponsorship Application:

Required Forms for Sponsorship:


  • Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking (IMM 1344) - Sponsor & Applicant fills out
  • Sponsorship Evaluation and Relationship Questionnaire (IMM 5532) - Sponsor & Applicant fills out
  • Generic Application Form for Canada (IMM 0008) - application to be completed by the sponsored spouse or partner
  • Sponsored Spouse / Partner Questionnaire (IMM 5490) - questionnaire to be completed by the sponsored spouse or partner
  • Schedule A - Background Declaration (IMM 5669) - sponsored spouse's background declaration for admissibility to Canada
  • Additional Family Information (IMM 5406) - information about sponsored spouse's family
  • Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union (IMM 5409) - a legal declaration necessary when sponsoring your common-law spouse only
  • Document Checklist (IMM 5533) - the list of all IMM application forms you may need to submit for this application
  • Use of Representative (IMM 5476) - Allows an Immigration professional to act and speak on your behalf with the Government of Canada(IRCC).

Possible Required Forms for Sponsorship 

  • Sponsorship Evaluation (IMM 5481) - a supplementary document regarding your eligibility to sponsor where a dependent child is involved. 
  • Financial Evaluation (IMM 1283) - may be required where a dependent child with children is involved. 
  • Additional Dependants (IMM 0008DEP) - a supplementary form for any dependants the sponsored spouse may have when more than 5 dependants on the application
  • Forms specific to certain countries. 

Have questions? Need some support with your Sponsorship Application? Check out our services! We use our years of expertise to help you prepare for the sponsorship process. We even review your documents before sending them to the government so that you avoid delays in processing. Call Immigroup today at 1-866-760-2623 or send us an email at [email protected] 


III: How do I start the process?

  • Go here to see our detailed blog on Family Class Sponsorships, with a link at the bottom of the page to access our expert consultants. 
  • Go here to get a heads up on how to avoid some key mistakes on a sponsorship application.

Start Immigroup's Free Sponsorship Course


Additional Resources:

Take your time and read some of the research articles about your Sponsorship topic:


Must Read

Common mistakes that could cause your spousal sponsorship application to be returned

Family sponsorship application document checklist

Spousal Sponsorship Letter – How to ace it

The Basics

When to do overseas vs. inland spousal sponsorship application

Common law partner vs. conjugal partner

Income requirement for Canadian spousal (and other family) sponsorship applications

Sponsoring a spouse with dependent child FAQs

How to prove a common law relationship

Sponsoring a spouse to Canada

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