Primary Applicant’s Supporting Documents for Sponsorship

Table of Contents

Now it’s time to focus on those supporting documents required from the Principal Applicant. As with the Sponsor’s documents, they are listed in form IMM 5533 – the document checklist.

Now let’s what supporting documents are required from the Principal Applicant:


Proof of Primary Applicant’s Legal Status

Specifically, a photocopy of the passport you used on your latest travels abroad from your country of residence. In our case, Carmen should photocopy the passport she used on her last trip to Canada to visit Horatio and his parents.

Only photocopy those pages in your passport that show:

  • Passport number
  • Date of issue and date of expiration
  • Photo
  • Name and Surname
  • Date and place of birth.

Because Carmen has travelled to Canada she also must include the pages in her passport with her entry and exit stamps and temporary visitor visa. The same thing would apply if this was an inland application and she was already living in Canada.

The other primary requirement is a birth or baptismal certificate, translated if necessary.

If the principal applicant resides in a country other than their country of citizenship (which is not the case with our example, Carmen) they must also include a photocopy of the page with their entry permit and residency permit, or green card in the case of USA.

This information has to be provided for each country the applicant has resided in during the last five years. Note: this not include trips, so it’s only countries where the sponsored spouse has had a permanent address.

Finally, if the principal applicant does not have a passport, they must provide one of the following for their country of principal citizenship/residence:

  • a travel document that was issued by the country of which the foreign national is a citizen or national;
  • an identity or travel document that was issued by a country to non-national residents, refugees or stateless persons who are unable to obtain a passport or other travel document from their country of citizenship or nationality or who have no country of citizenship or nationality;
  • a travel document that was issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland, to enable and facilitate emigration;
  • a passport or travel document that was issued by the Palestinian Authority;
  • an exit visa that was issued by the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to its citizens who were compelled to relinquish their Soviet nationality in order to emigrate from that country;
  • a passport issued by the United Kingdom to a British National (Overseas), as a person born, naturalized or registered in Hong Kong;
  • a passport issued by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China; or
  • a passport issued by the United Kingdom to a British Subject.

For some countries (not in the case of Brazil as we explained at the start of this chapter) the principal applicant must also provide photocopies of National Identity documents or what is called a Family Booklet. See the document checklist chapter for more information on additional identity document requirements.

Please note that the supporting document requirements for some countries may include the need to provide certified copies or even original documents. Check the document checklist chapter to see if this requirement applies to the country of residence and/or citizenship of the principal applicant.

Proof of Primary Applicant’s Status in Canada (if applicable)

If the principal applicant is living in Canada they must provide a copy of their temporary permit – visitor visa, study permit, work permit, temporary resident permit – or any out-of-status documentation if their status in Canada has expired.


PR Card Photos

You must submit 2 recent photographs of the principal applicant and 2 of each dependent, if any. Go here to see the specifications for Permanent Resident Card photos. You should print them and take them with you to the photographer.


Proof of Primary Applicant’s Dependents’ Status (if applicable)

If the principal applicant has any dependents, they must provide the passport information as given above for each principal dependent as well.

As with the primary applicant, birth or baptismal certificates are also required for any dependents.

For children 22 or older who are physically or emotionally unable to support themselves a detailed explanation is necessary with supporting documentation of their mental or physical condition.

Also, you must include a copy of adoption papers for adopted children.


Proof of Primary Applicant’s Legal Relationship to the Sponsor

Because the sponsor is not a Canadian, they have to prove their relationship to the sponsor, not vice versa. So we’ve included the marriage certificate in the list of sponsored spouse’s documents rather than sponsor’s, though all that matters is that it is provided.

For most countries, including Canada, a photocopy of the marriage certificate is acceptable.

A record of solemnization or a marriage license is NOT acceptable.

A copy of a Civil Union certificate/document IS acceptable.

Remember, whether it’s a marriage certificate of civil union document, the copy must be accompanied by a translation if it’s not in English or French.


Proof that Primary’s Applicant’s previous Marriages are Ended

If the sponsored spouse had a previous marriage, they must provide the folllowing:

  • A copy of the divorce certificate or registration if the principal applicant is divorced.
  • A copy of the annulment if the principal applicant had a previous marriage annulled.
  • A copy of the death certificate if the principal applicant is a widow.


Proof that Primary Applicants’ Dependents Can Travel to Canada

Form IMM 5604 must be included if the Sponsor is NOT the legal parent of any of the principal applicant’s minor (under 18) dependent children. A separate form IMM 5604 must be completed for each minor dependent that this applies to.

You must include one of the following forms of proof that the other parent consents to the child travelling to Canada with the principal applicant:

  • An identity document of the other parent with their signature.
  • A copy of any related custody agreement with the other parent.
  • A copy of the death certificate if the other parent is deceased.
  • A detailed explanation of why the child is free to move to Canada if the principal applicant is unable to obtain these documents.

PLEASE NOTE: if the dependent child is NOT travelling with the principal applicant and will not be issued a visa this step is NOT necessary.


Police Certificates and other Security Information

Go here to see if the country where the principal applicant resides or has lived in previously requires police certificates in order to come to Canada.

For our example, Brazil, you do have to provide police certificates when applying for PR status in Canada.

When you select the country from the drop-down menu at the page linked just above, if you have to provide a police certificate you will see basic instructions on how to obtain one.

Please note that some countries will require you to sign a consent form giving consent to IRCC to then obtain a police certificate as they will not issue a police certificate without a consent form.

If the principal applicant or their dependents have done military service then check here to see what specific instructions apply to the principal applicant’s country of residence.


Medical Examinations

Do NOT take a Medical Examination when filling out and submitting your application.

You will be asked to do the exam later in the process.

However, if you have had a medical exam within the last 12 months with a Panel Physician (one approved by the Canadian government to do the examinations – go here to see a list and find one near you) then attach a copy of the Information Sheet from your Panel Physician as well as the name and location of the panel physician.

We’ll cover the medical exam a little later in another chapter.


Additional Proofs of the Relationship

Next we have the Proof of Relationship documents covered in other chapters.

We’ll just review this again by giving you a list of supporting documents that the principal applicant might need – depending on how you answer a series of questions in your document checklist form IMM 5533 – to prove their relationship.

  • Letters, printed text messages, emails etc. to show proof of contact if the sponsor and principal applicant are not living together.
  • Itineraries, travel receipts, transfer records, boarding passes, entry & exit visas in passport, etc. to show proof of visits of the sponsor to the principal applicant.
  • Proof of joint ownership of property, rental agreements, joint utility accounts, government issued ID, joint insurance contracts, cell phone bills with the same address, etc. if the sponsor and principal applicant live together. (This is for common law and inland sponsorship applications.)
  • When the sponsor and principal applicant live together, you need to provide a detailed explanation if you can’t provide at least 2 types of proof listed above.
  • Birth certificates naming both parents if they have a child (whether or not that child is being sponsored).
  • Any divorce or annulment or death certificates or proof of legal separation if either has been married previously, as mentioned above.
  • Wedding photos (up to 20).
  • Employment or insurance benefits that lists the sponsor and the principal applicant, evidence of financial support, evidence of shared expenses, proof of past cohabitation (if applicable).
  • Letters from friends and family stating veracity of the relationship.
  • A detailed written explanation why the evidence listed previously (wedding photos etc.) is not available. Include any evidence you can obtain of your relationship with the Sponsor.

Much of the above may only be required if you did NOT answer YES to questions a through d in part 7: PROOF OF RELATIONSHIP TO SPONSOR in form IMM5533/IMM5589/IMM5629 which you can read about here.

Note that as our example Primary Applicant is from Brazil, no additional supporting documents are required. However, you must check by going here to ensure whether additional supporting documents are required, based on the country of residence and citizenship of your sponsored spouse/partner (the principal applicant).

  • Scroll down to where it says Get your checklist, forms, and instructions.
  • Select Spouse and dependent children from the first drop down menu.
  • Choose the principal applicant’s country of residence from the drop-down menu and if documents are needed from another country, choose that as well in the final drop-down menu.
  • Then click the blue Get checklist and forms button. If any additional documents are required, it will state this just below these drop-down menus.


Explanation for Previous Sponsorship Applications

If the principal applicant was previously sponsored to come to Canada, an explanation written down on a separate sheet of paper must be included providing details of that previous sponsorship application.

Remember this section is for the Principal Applicant to answer, so keep that in mind even though the questions on the checklist often refer to the relationship with the Sponsor. This leads us directly to the next 2 chapters.

The Sponsorship Letter

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How to Gather Documents from Foreign/Overseas Countries when Immigrating to Canada or Sponsoring Your Spouse


Do you need to collect documents from another country? Maybe you need an original of your birth certificate from your country of birth, a marriage search from a previous place of citizenship, or a diploma requested form your country of education, etc.

No matter the circumstances, this article will provide you with a general outline of the process.

However, be forewarned: just about every step of this process comes at a fee, including the gathering of vital statistics, translations, validation and verification stamps, etc. So make sure you allow some wiggle room in your budget!




Personally Gathering Your Documents from Abroad


Step 1: Call ahead and find out the process for gathering those documents, as well as the timeline.

For some kinds of documents, the process is very elaborate. You might be required to draft an official request or fill out an application form, mail it in, wait the processing time, collect validating stamps, etc. Depending on the purpose of those documents, keep in mind that sometimes they have to be collected within a certain time frame. For example, any documents collected for the purpose of getting married in Croatia have to be collected within 90 days of the wedding date.


Step 2: Sort out the visa requirements for entering the country (if applicable), and find out how long you can stay

It is imperative that you match the above timeline with the duration of your visa. You may be able to mail in request forms for some documents ahead of time, from your current country of residence.


Step 3: Make sure that the person you are right now can be matched to the person you are in the records

If you still have a passport or any other valid ID from the country of interest, you shouldn’t have a problem with proving your identity. If you do not have a passport or any other valid ID from the country of interest, you will have to travel there with your Canadian documents, and prove that you are the same person as the one in their records.

If you have changed your first or last name either by personal choice or marriage, you must have the supporting documents to prove that you are, in fact, still that same person. It is usually a document that will have both your previous name and your new name on it, connecting the two identities.


Step 4: Note and take care of any discrepancies caused by translations

If your original documents are in a different language and/or a different alphabet, some details may have gotten lost in translation. It is common for minor spelling mistakes to occur in translating between alphabets: sometimes names are translated phonetically, which may result in an extra letter or a loss of one.

In some countries, people receive one or more ‘familial middle names’ (eg.patronymics or matronymics) at the time of birth. Since those are not customary in the West, sometimes those names get lost in translation, and are left out of their Canadian documents. If that applies to you, be prepared to explain the discrepancy and provide supporting documents.

For example, you may currently be a Canadian citizen wanting to get an original of your birth certificate from Uzbekistan. Your current Canadian passport might have a completely different spelling of your name than the original birth certificate you are requesting. In the process of applying for Permanent Residence in Canada you would have had to get your birth certificate translated into English or French (your Canadian documents would have been based on that translation), and you should have retained a validated/notarized copy of that translation – that document will be the bridge connecting your old name as it appears in the records, and the new spelling of your name. So make sure to bring that with you as proof of identity!


Step 5: Depending on the country and the documents you are requesting, you might have to validate all supporting documents originating elsewhere (eg. Canada) for recognition in that country

For example, as far as the country of interest is concerned, your Canadian name change document may be just a piece of paper you printed off and signed. So you may have to get it validated/stamped, to prove that it is a legal document – usually that is done either at the Canadian Embassy in that country, or the country’s Embassy in Canada. You may also have to get those documents verified at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in your country of interest.  Make sure to ask about this when you call ahead to find out the process.


Step 6: Any supporting documents have to be translated into the official language of the country

If you need to bring any supporting documents from elsewhere (eg. marriage certificate from Canada), make sure they are all professionally translated into the official language of your country of interest. Depending on availability of translators, it could be done in either country, or even done multiple times.

For example, as a Canadian living and getting married in Croatia, I had to request my original birth certificate from Uzbekistan. I had to translate my supporting documents from English to Croatian, from Croatian to Russian – and in Uzbekistan the Russian documents were translated into Uzbek.


Once all the above has been done, you are ready to travel to your country of interest and collect your documents.

If your documents are being collected for use in Canada, OR if your documents are being collected in Canada for use abroad, see below.


Apostille Convention Countries

Albania* Bosnia and Herzegovina Dominican Republic Iceland Luxembourg New Zealand Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Tajikistan
Andorra Botswana Ecuador India Macau Nicaragua Samoa Thailand
Antigua and Barbuda Brunei El Salvador Ireland Macedonia Niue San Marino Tonga
Argentina Bulgaria Estonia Isreal Malawi Norway Sao Tome and Principe Trinidad and Tobago
Armenia Burundi Fiji Italy Malta Oman Serbia Turkey
Australia Cape Verde Finland Japan Marshall Islands Panama Seychelles Ukraine
Austria Colombia France Kazakhstan Mauritius Paraguay Slovakia United Kingdom
Azerbaijan* Cook Islands Georgia* Kosovo Mexico Peru Slovenia United States
Bahamas Costa Rica Germany* Kyrgyzstan* Moldova* Poland South Africa Uruguay
Bahrain Croatia Greece Latvia Monaco Portugal Spain Uzbekistan*
Barbados Cyprus Grenada Lesotho Mongolia* Romania Suriname Vanuatu
Belarus Czech Republic Honduras Liberia* Montenegro Russia Swaziland Venezuela
Belgium Denmark
(excluding Faroes and Greenland)
Hong Kong Liechtenstein Namibia Saint Kitts and Nevis Sweden
Belize Dominica Hungary Lithuania Netherlands Saint Lucia Switzerland

*Apostille may not be recognized in all member countries.



The above countries are all members of the Hague Apostille Convention. As mentioned above, depending on the nature and purpose of certain documents, they will need to be verified and validated for use in other countries. Generally it is a two-step process: the embassy of the issuing country (where the documents originate) verifies the legality of your documents, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs validates and recognizes them for use in your country of interest.

To make matters easier, the above countries have all agreed to forego that two-step process of verification and validation. Instead, when you request documents from any of the above countries for international use, the country itself validates them for you. This process is called Apostilization – an Apostille Seal is attached to documents issued in those countries, which acts as proof of their genuine, legal standing. This is convenient, because often the countries of the Hague Convention do not have embassies you could reach out to in most other countries, so abolishing the extra steps of validation speeds up the process.

However, Apostilization is not automatic. When you collect all the documents from the issuing country, they must be taken into an office for Apostilization within that country. Usually this happens at the Ministry of Justice, but that may vary by country – so call ahead and make sure you allow some time for the Apostilization process. Once your documents have received the Apostille Seal, they are valid for international use.

If you have already received your documents but weren’t aware of the need for Apostilization, or if you need your documents for use in multiple countries, a quick Google search (“apostilization + issuing country) will bring up a myriad of specialists willing to Apostilize your documents for you for a fee.

PLEASE NOTE: The Apostille Seal is only valid for use within the member countries of the Hague Convention. So for Apostilization to work, your documents have to originate in a member state, AND be used in a member state. For example, an Apostilized document from Croatia will be seen as legal and valid in any and all other member states. The Hague Convention is currently comprised of 110 countries, including all members of the European Union.

CANADA IS NOT A MEMBER OF THE HAGUE APOSTILLE CONVENTION. Even if your documents originate in one of the above countries, but are requested for use in any country not covered by the Hague Convention, the Apostille seal loses its value. In fact, any Apostilized documents might be seen as damaged, and another ‘clean’ copy will be requested by the country’s officials.

Documents originating from, or for use in Canada or any other non-member state must be authenticated and validated as described in the “Upon Receipt of Documents” section below.


Designating Another Individual to Gather Your Documents

If someone else will be collecting your documents from another country, all the above still applies to you (minus the travel/visa requirements). You will also need to:

  1. Collect all the supporting documents in accordance with the guidelines outlined above.
  2. Make an appointment with a Notary Public to draft a Power of Attorney. You will need a notarized letter giving permission to the person of your choice (authorized representative) to act on your behalf, and collect the required documents in your country of interest. You will need:
    • Your own passport
    • Copy of the authorized representative’s passport (picture page)
    • Authorized representative’s current legal address
  3. Make sure that the person you are right now can be matched to the person you are in the records.
  4. If you still have a passport or any other valid ID from the country you are getting the documents from, you shouldn’t have a problem with proving your identity. The number of your valid passport or ID would be included in the Power of Attorney drafted with the Notary Public. If you do not have a passport or any other valid ID from the country of interest, please see above details.
  5. Write up a personal letter of explanation. This isn’t a legal necessity, but it does help to clear up the details and add a bit of personality. Anticipate the questions that could be asked, and personally answer them in this letter. It could include things like:
    • Reasons for requesting the documents
    • Confirmation of sending your friend/family member/hired official to pick up your documents
    • Resolution of any discrepancies in your paperwork
    • Verification of the contents of your package and reasons for sending it (eg. “I am including a copy of my birth certificate to help you find me in the records, and to prove that I am the person whose documents I am requesting.”)
    • Your contact information, should they need to call/email you with further questions
    • Appreciation of their time and cooperation, etc.
  6. Any supporting documents have to be translated into the official language of the issuing country.
  7. This includes your Power of Attorney and your personal letter of explanation! Please see above for more details on translation.
  8. Mail all the supporting documents to your authorized representative.
  9. Once all the supporting documents have been collected (and translated if applicable), you are ready to mail them. Depending on the rush and the importance of the documents you are requesting (it can be very expensive!), you may want to consider using secure and priority mailing options. Some popular options are:

Please double-check the guidelines above to make sure that the documents collected on your behalf have been properly translated and Apostillized (if applicable) before being mailed back to you. Remember that Apostilization must take place in the issuing country.


Upon Receipt of Documents


Translate the documents into the official language of the country you intend to use them in

If the documents you have collected are in a different language than the official language of the destination country, you will have to get them professionally translated. As mentioned above, consider the availability of translators when deciding where to do the translations.

If the language of your documents is not widely spoken in the destination country, consider translating them (professionally!) in their country of origin.


Validate your documents for use in the destination country

Unless your documents have the Apostille’s Seal, depending on their nature and purpose, they may need to be verified and validated for use in your country of interest. Generally it is a two-step process: the embassy of the issuing country (where the documents originate) verifies the legality of your documents, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs validates and recognizes them for use in your country of interest.

For example, if your documents are from Ireland, they would get verified by the Irish Embassy in Canada, and validated by the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

After all the above is complete, you should be able to take in all the collected, translated, and verified documents and use them as needed! For more questions, please contact the respective embassy.

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