Inland Spousal Sponsorship Open Work Permit Pilot Program Extended into 2019!

Inland Spousal Sponsorship

Mary Keyork
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In December 2014, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) launched a two-year inland spousal sponsorship open work permit pilot program for individuals being sponsored from inside Canada. Just before the pilot was set to expire in December 2016, the government extended it for a one year period into 2017.

In December 2017, right before the holidays, the government announced that it would extend the pilot for another year (and a month) until January 31, 2019.

IRCC initially introduced this pilot program as a means of supporting and keeping families together in Canada. By giving sponsored spouses and partners the option to obtain an open work permit while their inland application processes, many families are able to support themselves while they wait. In addition, the inland processing option opens up and lets families remain together. In contrast, many families are not able to remain together during application processing if they file under the overseas sponsorship category.

Who Qualifies?

This pilot program should not be confused with the bridging open work permit program for permanent resident applicants who are in Canada on a valid work permit.

To qualify under this pilot program, applicants must be a spouse or common-law partner living in Canada and being sponsored by the Spouse or Common-Law Partner Class. On top of that, applicants must:

• Have valid temporary resident status – this can include status as a visitor, student or worker; and
• Live in Canada at the same address as your sponsor.

Stages of a Sponsorship Application

Sponsorship applications are processed in two stages: (1) the sponsorship application where the sponsor is assessed for eligibility; and (2) the permanent residence application where the applicant is assessed for eligibility for a permanent residence grant.

When a sponsorship application is approved, the sponsor and applicant will be notified that the application will move onto the second stage of processing. When an initial review of the permanent residence application is completed, and if everything checks out, the applicant will receive approval in principle.

Approval in principle means that an applicant meets the permanent residence eligibility requirements but there are still some background checks (i.e. medical, security) happening that can take time.

How to Apply

Sponsored spouses and common-law partners can apply for an open work permit whether they have received approval in principle or not. There are three options for first-time open work permit applicants:

• If no sponsorship and permanent residence application have been submitted – submit the open work permit application on paper along with the sponsorship and permanent residence applications. It will be processed once IRCC has completed the sponsorship assessment and moves onto the permanent residence application;

• If a permanent residence application was submitted but no approval in principle has been received – submit the open work permit application on paper, along with all supporting documents and the processing fee;

• If a permanent residence application was submitted and approval in principle has been received – submit the open work permit application online.

If you were already issued an open work permit under an earlier pilot program and need to extend it you must apply to extend it before it expires under the regular work permit extension process. This can be done by paper or online. The forms, supporting documentation and fees for the extension application will not be the same as those you submitted for the initial open work permit application. Make sure you give yourself enough time to gather what is required and complete the forms so that you can submit in advance of your work permit expiry.

Note that work permits being extended under the pilot program will only be issued until January 31, 2019, at the latest, or the date your passport expires, if it is before January 31, 2019.

Back in October, we wrote about bridging open work permits – what they are, who qualifies and how to apply. Bridging open work permits are different than the inland sponsorship based work permits. If you are interested in learning about bridging open work permits, you can check out our blog here Bridging open work permit & PR for all of the backgrounds.

Love conquers everything – one couple’s spousal sponsorship story

Spousal sponsorship story
Mary Keyork
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Love conquers everything – one couple’s spousal sponsorship story

Nina first contacted us by phone; she was reserved and wanted to make sure that her life story will not be judged. Once the initial trust was established, Nina asked to come in for a follow-up consultation as she didn’t feel too comfortable in discussing her story by phone.

Nina and Anna were engaged; the couple met at a mutual friend’s birthday party in Vietnam and slowly they became friends first, and then a couple. Their first date was memorable; both Nina and Anna loved picnics, so Nina organized a picnic outside of Anna’s town. They took a picnic basket full of amazing food, and wine and spent the whole day together, laughing and getting to know each other.

With each passing day they spent together they both realized that they found something meaningful and worth fighting for. Both Anna and Nina were in long-term serious relationships before and never really considered a long distance relationship. However, life rarely goes as we plan it to and since they both were certain that the relationship was worth it if they decided to give it a try and exchanged WhatsApp contact details and made tentative plans to meet again soon.

Both Nina and Anna were working professionals and had a busy life; however, they would always make time for each other. Nina was working at an international humanitarian organization as a policy advisor and grant manager. She worked hard to get there, but unfortunately, was never lucky in her personal relationship.

At some point, it would always come down to choosing between the work and the relationship, and while Nina hated to make that choice, it always ended up being another promotion or job opportunity. It was always a combination of having very demanding partners and an inner voice that would tell her the relationship was not the right one for her.

With Anna everything was different; they were able to understand each easily and communication was effortless. While they had different personalities, they complimented each other perfectly. Anna was working in the financial sector and had to travel a lot for business, nevertheless, they both managed to keep in touch often enough to keep the sparkle alive. After a couple of months, they took their first trip together to Italy.

The itinerary was exciting; Rome, Venice, and Florence. Anna and Nina spent days exploring the cities together; food, museums, shopping. The trip was packed with activities and emotions; they got along well and found out that their travel styles were similar to each other’s’ too.

Almost half way to their trip Nina noticed that Anna was concerned about something. She would be happy one minute, and then the shadow of concern would appear. At first, Nina ignored it; she thought that maybe Anna was too wrapped up in her work and it would take her more time to relax and enjoy the trip. However, one night Nina didn’t hold back and decided to ask Anna if something was bothering her. Anna looked relieved; she was going to tell Nina a secret and was hoping that it would not affect their relationship. Anna was born HIV positive and had to live with HIV her whole life. Her father did not know she was HIV-positive and her mother got it from him. When Anna was born she and her mother tested HIV positive, but the doctors were not sure whether it would be a permanent condition for Anna.

Unfortunately for her, frequent tests showed that it would be something that Anna would have to live with her whole life. Anna’s parents were sad; they knew that judgmental society would make it harder for Anna to live her life to the fullest. There was little they could do and they did their best; Anna was surrounded with love and care and had the best medical services available to her.

Nevertheless, given the bias society had about HIV her family decided to keep it a secret from Anna’s extended family. When Anna was younger, she was very self-conscious about her condition and had a fear that no one would want to date her or be friends with her if they learned about her condition. Apart from her fear of judgment, Anna had no issues with building relationships with people, but still stayed vulnerable when it came to opening up.

It was hard for her to understand that despite the information readily available to many, people were afraid of HIV and would react negatively. Anna always lived with the fear that if people found out they would tell her to stay away from them, as many still believe that HIV can be transmitted through touching. Society’s ignorance played a big role in forming Anna’s personality and her approach to relationships and life.

Fortunately for Anna, aside from her condition, she was very healthy and never had to go to the hospital because of her condition. She had been taking the same medicine for 8 years and had to switch her medicines only once.

It took courage to tell her secret to Nina, and Anna could only hope that Nina would not love her less. The relationship Anna and Nina had was too precious for Anna to hide something this serious from Nina, and she only hoped that Nina would be understanding and supportive.

Nina took the news well; she was worried that Anna was concerned about their relationship and was contemplating a breakup. While Nina was sad to learn about Anna’s experience and health condition, she was, nevertheless, relieved that the talk was not leading to a breakup.

Nina hugged Anna tight and told her how much she appreciated her honesty and that she would always be there for her. After the talk, they went out for a walk and some Italian ice cream. Three days later they had to go back to their respective countries.

Not so surprisingly, after having the talk, they grew closer and realized how much they meant for each other. During the next two years, they kept visiting each other and taking vacations. They both met each other’s families and friends and even spent the Christmas with Anna’s family.

During one of their visits, they started talking about the future and marriage, and at the end, they both proposed to each other and agreed that it was the right time to legalize the relationship. The wedding was in Canada since there are few countries where same-sex marriage was legal. The wedding was short, simple and intimate.

 Both Anna and Nina were wearing short wedding dresses and had matching bouquets. After the courthouse ceremony, the newlyweds and their families and close friends had a three-course dinner in one of the best restaurants in Montreal. After the dinner the party continued till 2 am; there was live music and a DJ to make sure that the wedding was fun and memorable.

After taking a week off to Cozumel in Mexico for a honeymoon, they had to say goodbyes. Anna left and Nina started her research into sponsoring Anna to Canada so they can be together.

After asking around and reading forums, Nina became concerned; it was mentioned that the application could be refused if there was a ground of medical inadmissibility. Nina wondered if Anna’s HIV status would deem her inadmissible.

Thankfully, after consulting with us Nina learned that permanent residency could be refused on medical grounds only if the health condition is either a danger to the health or safety of the public or if the person with the health condition would represent an excessive demand on health or social services in Canada. However, immigration does not consider HIV a danger to the health or safety of the public as long as it is a stable condition, well monitored and meeting certain medical requirements. In addition, an excessive demand criterion does not apply to refugees or those who are being sponsored as the spouse or a child.

Fortunately for Nina and Anna, this meant that being HIV positive would not be an obstacle for spousal sponsorship application.

After being assured that with the complete application including all necessary documents Nina’s application had all chances to be approved Nina decided to start the process and messaged Anna telling her that soon they will be together.

 On the other side of the world, Anna was waiting for Nina’s message that her HIV status would not be an obstacle to be together. Despite knowing that should it become an obstacle Nina would have moved to be with her, Anna wished that her health condition didn’t affect Nina’s life negatively. After all, Nina loved living in Canada and worked hard to get where she was.

“Love would have conquered everything”, Anna thought, “but having reasonable immigration policies in place did help the couple to have a life they both would be happy with”.

Spousal Sponsorship – Maria’s Story

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Mary Keyork
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A Complicated Spousal Sponsorship Situation with a Good Ending

Maria first contacted us online by submitting a form; later in the week, we had a Skype consultation. For the past 7 years, she had been living in Eritrea and working in an international human rights organization. Maria was extremely well traveled, educated and open-minded, and thoroughly enjoyed her time in Africa.

Her travels and work experiences taught her valuable life lessons; she grew as a professional and made lifelong friendships. While in Eritrea she also had a beautiful daughter, named Valeria and was enjoying both the joys and struggles of motherhood. Unfortunately, her relationship with Valeria’s father and her common-law partner did not last, but she was very thankful for being able to raise a daughter like Valeria. Maria’s ex-partner and colleague, Dan, also Valeria’s father had signed off his rights and was absent since the day Valeria had turned two years old.

Despite the struggles, Maria had to face in a new country she loved her job and the privilege to raise her daughter. Maria was a hard worker, and her supervisor appreciated her dedication. Nevertheless, it was time for Maria to contemplate returning to her home country, Canada since she was pregnant with another child and in a committed relationship with Hani. Despite the age difference between Hani and Maria with Hani being five years her junior, they had a stable relationship and were committed to each other.

How did Maria meet Hani?

Hani had a construction business and came from a politically represented family, even though he was not involved in politics. Maria and Hani met at a mutual friend’s birthday party and instantly became attracted to each other. They spent the whole evening talking and laughing with each other and made plans to meet the next day again. Despite his age, Hani was very mature, and Maria admitted to herself that with him she was feeling safe and secure and taken care of. After dating for four months, Maria finally introduced Hani to her daughter.

Much to Maria’s surprise and delight, Hani and Valeria became best friends; Valeria loved spending time with her mother and Hani. All three traveled around the country, enjoyed cooking and watching movies, and spending time together. Hani also taught Valeria how to ride a bike and swim. Every time Maria looked at how fatherly Hani was towards Valeria, her heart became filled with love and warmth towards the man she was ready to spend her life with.

Nevertheless, Maria was against the idea of marriage, and after discussing her stance on marriage with Hani, they both agreed that legal aspects of marriage were not necessary and they were perfectly happy with establishing a common law relationship. Shortly after the talk, they moved in together. Not only Maria and Hani were overjoyed, but Valeria was also jubilant to have Hani in the house.

Life was good. However, living conditions were not the best given the poor economic situation in Eritrea and political tensions, but Maria was dedicated to her job and a huge believer in making a difference. At the same time, she missed Canada and was sure that at some point she would go back.
With her work experience and skills, she was confident to contribute to her home country’s policy development. What Maria was not satisfied with was the timing of when she would eventually make the decision about relocation. As it usually happens, life had a surprising answer in store; after experiencing morning sickness for about a week; Maria eventually got a pregnancy test and realized that she was pregnant! When Maria told Hani about her pregnancy, he hugged her as tight as he could and whispered that she made him the happiest man alive.

Unfortunately, given Maria’s age and the state of the health system in Eritrea, she traveled to Canada to get a medical assessment of her pregnancy. In Canada, she was advised that ideally, she should have the child in a Canadian hospital to escape any complications that might not be addressed adequately in Eritrea. After traveling back to Eritrea, Maria and Hani decided to apply for spousal sponsorship for Hani to become a Permanent Resident of Canada and live with Maria in Canada; it was time to go back home.

Despite the fact that Maria and Hani were not married, they had been living together for more than a year and would qualify as common-law partners. After determining the fact that Maria would be able to sponsor Hani to Canada, the couple decided to get professional legal advice to navigate the confusing process efficiently since Maria wanted to have the child in Canada and ideally with Hani present at the moment of birth.

After retaining our office and gathering all necessary documents the waiting game begun. Maria was anxious about the timeline, but she also was realizing that the process would take time. At the same time, while waiting for the sponsorship to be approved, Hani started looking at alternative options to secure a safe birth for Maria and to make sure that their child’s health will not be compromised.

Being from an educated and well-off family, Hani was privileged enough to finish international school in Denmark and happened to have some friends still living there. Maria decided not to quit her job yet since her pregnancy was going well and work was keeping her busy while she was anxiously waiting for the process to move forward. In the meantime, Hani left for Denmark; he wanted to secure an apartment and find out about possible options if Maria had to have the baby outside Eritrea.

Unfortunately, as life would have it, local political tensions in Eritrea became an issue; while Hani was not involved in politics, he was still his father’s son, and just the fact of that made him a target to the point that his father advised him not to come back. Lately, he had been getting threats that were addressed not only to him but also to Hani.

When Hani called Maria to let her know that his life was in danger, Maria’s heart just sunk. Hani was trying to be as calm as he could be in the given circumstances, but Maria knew he was anxious and lost not knowing what to do. The sponsorship application was still pending, and Hani told Maria that she had to either leave for Denmark and give birth there or leave for Canada.

After thinking about the pros and cons, the couple decided that given their circumstances, it would be better for Maria and her baby to be in Canada. Unfortunately, that would have meant that he might not be present during the childbirth. However, given the fact that Maria’s family lived in Canada and they would be able to help her with Valeria and a newborn, it made more sense.

Since Hani was not able to go back to Eritrea and lost his construction business, he was limited in choices. The best he could do was to try and find a job in Denmark before his visitor visa expires or even consider applying for a refugee status since it was no longer safe for him to go back to Eritrea.
Finally, Maria left for Canada, and Hani stayed in Denmark.

After a couple of months, Maria gave birth to a healthy boy they named Fraser. Unfortunately, Hani was not present during the birth. Both Maria and Hani felt blessed, but also sad that despite their dreams, Hani was not able to be there for Maria physically. However, their relationship was surviving the long distance and they were more certain than ever that they will be able to be a family again soon. Every night Maria and Valeria would Facetime Hani and at times it seemed that there was ocean between them.

Little did they know that at the Canadian embassy finally made a positive decision on their applications. Despite the special circumstances of their relationship, age difference, and political uncertainty, positive news was around the corner.

Moving Back to Canada – Overcoming Criminal Inadmissibility

criminal inadmissibility

Mary Keyork
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May and Jack contacted our office just before Christmas. They were married for seven years and anxious about the steps to take to permanently move to Canada. May was born in Canada and moved to Spain when she was seventeen.

She studied contemporary art and was working as a private gallery manager and exhibition coordinator. Jack was born in the United States. After his parents divorced, he moved to Europe to live with his mother. May and Jack met at a student party; the attraction between the two was immediate. Both young and ready to love, they started dating.
Through thick and thin, they managed to keep the spark alive in their relationship. As students, they sometimes struggled with compromising with one another and the financial burden was at times too heavy to carry.

Nevertheless, they built a wonderful relationship and started a family. Jack proposed to May when he took her to a surprise helicopter ride on her birthday. He spent countless hours planning the surprise proposal. He wanted to make sure May not only loved the surprise but also was actually surprised by his proposal as they had already discussed engagement.
May believed that the engagement should not come as a surprise but the proposal should. Jack tried his best to hide the excitement and the fact that he was working night shifts to save for the ring and the helicopter ride. He finally picked a date. May would have never guessed that he would take her on a helicopter ride and propose on the same day.

Jack was also excited that he was able to save enough money to buy May her dream ring; six prong princess cut diamond ring with a halo. The day of the proposal was perfect; the weather was warm and sunny, and Jack managed to surprise May to the point that she cried tears of joy. Having gone through some struggles together, they both realized that from now on they would face life together and hopefully forever.

In the evening, May called her parents who still lived in Canada to share the news. Everyone was thrilled for the couple and the wedding planning began. The couple had a wedding in a small town in Spain. May’s family and close friend traveled all the way from Canada and Europe to participate in the celebration of love.

Jack’s immediate family and friends were also able to join. Jack’s parents were able to put aside their painful past to join their son’s celebration of finding the woman of his dreams despite their non-amicable divorce.

After the reception, the couple took a seven-day honeymoon to Portofino, Italy. After the honeymoon, they went back to Spain and settled in their routine. As time went on, May started missing her family more and more. When she learned that her mother’s health was deteriorating she started considering going back to Canada and settling there permanently.

She wanted to return to Canada not only because she greatly missed her family, but also because Jack was not entirely happy with their life in Spain. May started her research on possible ways to get them to Canada. As someone who had a mixed heritage and darker skin color, Jack did not feel as welcomed in Europe as he used to. He didn’t face any direct discrimination; however, he had a growing feeling that he wasn’t that welcomed in Europe. As a Canadian, May was free to go back to Canada and to live there permanently; however, with Jack it was not that simple.

Being a citizen of Spain and the United States, he was free to visit for six months in the normal circumstances. Unfortunately, Jack had a criminal record that was old, but, nevertheless, made him criminally inadmissible to Canada.

In order to sponsor her husband, May would not only need to go through the spousal sponsorship process, but would also need to address her husband’s criminal record so he becomes admissible.

When Jack was young, he was charged with DUI and never thought that his reckless actions at a young age would, later on, affect his life. As a student, he was very involved in extra-curricular activities and university clubs, but also enjoyed his free time of drinking and partying with his friends from a modeling agency.

He had an exotic look and was working part-time as a model. At one of the parties, he had too many fancy cocktails and decided to drive home instead of staying the night at his friend’s place. He was speeding and had the music on, so naturally, the police car patrolling the streets that night stopped him. He was not only charged with DUI but also with resisting the officer. Jack had to pay a fine and take a course on driving under the influence.

Since then, he has apologized to the officer and cut back on his drinking mainly because the incident made May very upset. It was also then that he realized how much she meant to him and that upsetting her over trivial things like his drinking did not seem like a good idea anymore.

Five years later, the past came to haunt him even though he is not dangerous or violent. Both May and Jack were confused on how they should address this incident in their spousal sponsorship application. Clearly, simply stating that he was young and reckless would not have been enough. What if Canadian immigration officials are not satisfied with the fact that he has changed since then? What if they refuse because he was not able to prove that he has changed and will be a law-abiding citizen in Canada? What if that DUI is going to cost them their dream to live in Canada?

Would May be forced to give up on her dreams of living in Canada? She could not bear the thought of being away from her husband, but she also knew how hard it would be for her to not be able to visit Canada freely or to never spend holidays being surrounded both with her family and her husband. In addition, they were already trying to conceive a child. They put it on hold because of travel and financial goals they set for themselves, but now that everything seemed to be more stable, both May and Jack wanted to have children.

Apart from DUI Jack had no other criminal record. However, it was enough to question his admissibility to Canada. There are too many accidents involving drunk drivers for the Canadian government to not take these DUI charges seriously. Too many people lose their health and life by the irresponsible behavior of young or not so young drivers. Both May and Jack were certain that his DUI was a serious incident and they both firmly believed that it should be addressed properly.

When they contacted our office, Jack was remorseful and made it very clear that he wanted to address his DUI in the application not only because it is a requirement but also because he felt that he has changed so much since then. During the consultation, the couple was advised to submit not only the supporting documents to attest to the genuine nature of their relationship but also supporting documents that would support Jack’s application for criminal rehabilitation. Depending on the nature of the criminal charge as well as the time that has passed since the charge, there is a possibility of either applying for an individual criminal rehabilitation to cure criminal inadmissibility or to have it deemed rehabilitated.

Being equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge, Jack and May felt at ease. Just like anyone who has made mistakes, they were happy to learn that this mistake would not have to cost them their dream of living in Canada.

May was thrilled that she would finally be able to go back home. She enjoyed her time in Spain, but never really thought that she would live in Spain for the rest of her life. After all, she missed the beautiful British Columbia mountains and her family. Having always been extremely close to her mother, she always made sure to spend important holidays with family, but because of Jack’s DUI they never visited Canada together.

There is always hope to fix the mistakes people make during the times they are young and reckless; it takes not only courage but also a true dedication and truthful remorse.
Thankfully for May and Jack, Jack’s attitude and the life he led after the incident are the best proof that will support the smooth processing of their spousal sponsorship.
Currently, the couple awaits the finalizing of the application and is looking for an apartment in the beautiful city of Vancouver.

Overseas Spousal sponsorship approved

Spousal sponsorship process

Mary Keyork
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Dreams do come true on Christmas – Overseas Spousal sponsorship process approved!

We first spoke to Alex on the phone at the beginning of 2015 about their spousal sponsorship process. He was gathering as much information as he possibly could about the spousal sponsorship process. Him and his wife, Elizabeth, had been together for 2 years and Alex was anxious about the appropriate process to get her to Canada. Elizabeth had been married before and had a child from her previous marriage; in addition, she was 7 years older than Alex.

While the couple was genuinely in love, they both were not sure on how to proceed with the spousal sponsorship application process. First, they asked a couple of friends, who had a long distance relationship that resulted in marriage and subsequent sponsorship and read forums about the process for different situations couples found themselves in. However, the more information they gathered the more confused they became.
Everyone’s love story was so different that at some point, both Alex and Elizabeth realized that without proper guidance they would just damage their relationship since the stress of the unknown had put a strain on their relationship already.

Alex and Elizabeth met online on a language tandem and exchange website. None of them was actually looking for a relationship; Alex was trying to improve his French before heading to Alsace to visit his extended family, and Elizabeth wanted to practice her English. She worked and lived in the small French town of Colmar as a hairdresser.
After spending hours of not only practicing French and English but also of getting to know each other they decided to meet up when Alex visited Strasbourg where his extended family lived.
Alex was very excited to arrive early in the morning in Strasbourg; his plane was on time and the security checks went effortlessly. After his cousin picked him up, on the way to the house Alex told him about Elizabeth and his plan to meet her in Colmar on the weekend.

The way his eyes lighted up when he talked about her was enough for the cousin to realize that Alex was madly in love, even though he hadn’t realized that yet.
Elizabeth and Alex met on a beautiful Saturday at one of the oldest French pastry shops in Colmar. The moment they saw each other both had a feeling that they knew each other for a very long time. It was like the meeting of old friends who were to realize that they had feelings for each other and were more than friends.

The coffee and éclairs were delicious as promised in the pastry shop touristic ad, and they ended up talking for three hours non-stop, sharing their most precious dreams and memories with each other. Later that day, they took a walk in the old part of Colmar, petit Venice, and ended the date with a kiss. It was passionate but also innocent; they both were longing for it, but were cautious to give in their emotions, as none of them planned to fall in love when there was a long distance involved.

Nevertheless, the next few days that Alex spent in France, they went out every day after Elizabeth’s shift was finished. She told him about her life story and how she ended up in living in Colmar. Elizabeth’s father was French, and mother was Guyanese; they met while on exchange in Germany and started dating shortly after.

However, they both were very young, and when Elizabeth’s mother realized that she was pregnant, their relationship eventually broke down. First, the couple tried to negotiate with their conscience; they both suggested abortion or adoption, however, after the initial shock wore off, Elizabeth’s mother decided that she would keep the baby.
Her father, even though wanted to be present in the kid’s life, was not able to keep his relationship with Elizabeth’s mother alive. Eventually, they decided to be co-parents and to move on with their personal lives. Elizabeth’s mother went back to Guyana, and the father stayed in France. They kept in touch and managed to successfully resolve their issues and be good parents to Elizabeth.

At the age of 16 she finally moved to France, where she took some hairdresser courses and started working. Her relationship with her father was not the best, unfortunately, since he married for the second time and had children, who were not very thrilled to make friends with Elizabeth.

At the age of 20 Elizabeth got pregnant; both her and her husband were happy together and welcomed the pregnancy, however, when the baby turned 4 the relationship broke down and they got a divorce. Alex’s life was very different from Elizabeth’s. He was born and raised in the small city of Guelph in Ontario, the family of a nurse and an engineer.

He had two siblings with whom he was very close and led a comfortable middle-class life, working in the banking industry. Unfortunately, he was never successful in personal relationships as he never found the connection that would make his heart skip a beat. With Elizabeth, everything seemed different, and upon returning from France, they both were determined to make their relationship work.

After a year of long distance and frequent visits, Alex finally proposed to Elizabeth; they were overjoyed and immediately shared the news with family and friends. It was a very special proposal, as Alex not only asked Elizabeth to marry him, but also asked her son whether he would have minded having Alex as his father.

The wedding ceremony was small and intimate, in the beautiful Chateau d’Isenbourg with family and close friends in attendance. Elizabeth’s son was the ring bearer, and Alex’s nieces were flower girls. Elizabeth wore a beautiful open back mermaid style dress and her bouquet had ranunculus, peonies, and olive branches.

After the wedding, the couple did some research and asked around on how to approach the sponsorship process. They knew they loved each other, but there were an age difference and so many questions that forum members were not able to answer:

  • Would they be able to prove that they truly loved each other?
  • Should they submit all the photos and proof of communication?
  • How would they go about their age difference?
  • Should they submit all the photos and proof of communication?
  • How would they go about their age difference?

The step by step guidance was much needed, and the couple opted for our immigration law firm. In a month the application was submitted and the waiting started. The couple was anxious to get the positive answer and be finally together in Canada.

Alex and Elizabeth planned to spend the Christmas together and would usually end their daily Skype wishing each other the best gift they both could have ever dreamed about – their spousal sponsorship approved.

On a Christmas day of 2016, Alex did not believe his eyes when he received an email from us. The title said “Congratulations – the application is approved! Merry Christmas and happy new year!”

Alex, as an adult, stopped believing in the miracles many years ago; wishful thinking, he would refer to his dreams about being reunited with Elizabeth and her son in the new year. Alex only believed in hard work and deadlines; after receiving the email he spent 10 minutes just staring at the screen, not being able to do anything. After the initial shock, he called Elizabeth without even noticing the time difference.

Christmas time is full of miracles; a wish that the desires of the heart will make the whole universe to conspire to make it true!

Permanent Residence Process: A Story of Love and betrayal

Permanent residence
Mary Keyork
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    Love and betrayal- CBSA investigation on the genuineness of a relationship

    We first met Maria later in the evening in December, when she stopped by our office to discuss the permanent residence process; she was distraught and appeared very stressed. Her relationship with her husband had been crumbling, and Maria was not sure whether there was anything an immigration law firm could have done for her.

    She was ashamed that her love story did not turn out exactly as she would have dreamt when picking a wedding dress and coordinating the color scheme for the wedding theme. She was heartbroken that her husband, the man with whom she thought had built a loving and healthy relationship and with whom she was planning to start a family, would betray her and leave her shortly after he arrived in Canada.

    Maria first met her husband, Paul, when she was taking a vacation with friends in Bali three years ago, in early spring of 2013. He was charming and kind and happened to work as a diving instructor on the island. Maria was very excited to finally take some diving lessons, as she always wanted to.

    Maria learned how to swim at a very early age, and water was always her element. Getting a driving license was her dream for a very long time and finally, it was about to become real. Maria decided to take the full 10-day licensing course; coincidentally she also happened to like the instructor. However, she was never a big fan of long distance and did not plan to start a relationship with Paul.

    The lessons were intense, but Maria enjoyed them every single day. In the evenings, she would spend time with her friends and Paul would frequently join them. Shortly after, both realized that they liked each other and had so much in common that keeping in touch after Maria left for Canada only seemed natural.

    After going back to Canada, Maria and Paul quickly established a routine; in the mornings they would call each other on Whatsapp, and on the weekends they would chat on video calls. It was a challenging time for the couple, but also rewarding. All they had was communication tools, and the distance required the use of communication tools so they could get to know each other and build a relationship.

    About two months into their long-distance relationship, Paul confessed his love to Maria, and they officially became a couple. Both realized that distance was going to be challenging and their relationship would not be anything like they had before. However, they decided to give it a try and did their best to keep in touch throughout the day and planned the next visits.

    Unfortunately for Maria, her family was not thrilled about their relationship; her sister especially was against it, since she heard many stories from her friends experience when Canadian citizen was tricked into a relationship and was used just to get a permanent residence in Canada.

    There is always a risk that long distance does not work out or that it is simply an attempt on the part of a foreigner to get permanent residence in Canada. However, Maria was confident that her relationship with Paul was different; after all, she was the one spending time with him, and she believed he was genuine about his feelings.

    Indeed, when Paul found out that Maria was from Canada, he told her during one of their diving lessons that he always wanted to move to Canada, but never actually looked into it, as it seemed like a long and complicated process.

    Maria did not consider this as a red flag, unlike her sister, who didn’t trust Paul and was very skeptical of their relationship. Maria did not become alarmed by this, as she sincerely believed that the fact that he did not hide that information from her was a good indicator of his honest character.

    In October of 2013, Maria left for Bali for a week to visit Paul; she was very excited and was looking forward to their reunion since she last saw him seven months ago. The week flew by, and when Maria went back to Canada, she was even more confident that her relationship with Paul was genuine. She visited him again in April of 2014 and then in October 2014, when Paul asked her to marry him. The proposal was very romantic; he set up a small candle and flowers table on the beach.

    While the engagement did not come off as a surprise, the proposal caught Maria off guard. She was excited to start a new chapter in her life with a man she believed she would grow old together. Before the proposal, Paul and Maria already discussed the prospects of their life together and decided that it would be more beneficial for the couple if Paul moves to Canada.

    While Maria would be able to move to Bali, since she was a yoga instructor and would not mind trying to establish herself in Bali, Paul convinced her that regarding financial security Canada seemed like the best option. Shortly after the proposal, the couple started planning the wedding for the May of 2015.

    With her day and yoga classes in the evening, Maria struggled to keep the same level of communication with Paul; however, she noticed he was also not very involved in the planning. Text messages would become less frequent, and the calls would only happen if Maria called Paul.

    Maria’s sister did not like that Paul was acting cold and slightly disinterested and tried to warn Maria. Maria, however, was convinced that Paul’s behavior was just wedding jitters and everything would go back to normal once they are married and his sponsorship application is approved.

    On May 23, 2015, the couple got married in Bali with close friends and family present. They had a small but beautiful ceremony and spent a week together honeymooning on the island before Maria had to leave for Canada. Once she arrived in Canada, Maria started the process of spousal sponsorship, and in June 2016 the application was approved.

    Maria was excited to finally have her husband with her and was hoping that his behavior would change once they are together. The time apart was very hard, and Paul was not always as kind to her as he was at the beginning of their relationship.

    However, love is blind, and Maria would never believe that at the end he simply used her to get to Canada. After all, they have been through so much together already and survived the distance.

    The day Maria was supposed to go pick up Paul from the airport promised to be one of the best and most memorable days in her life. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the day Maria’s heart would be broken.

    Paul was cold; he was complaining during their entire ride back, but Maria thought it was because of the stress. Later in the evening, he sat with her and told her that he needed to take a break from their relationship because he was not sure how he felt about her. Maria was shocked; how could Paul do that to her? Suddenly, all her suppressed worries that he had been using her all along became a reality.

    She cried and cried, and did not even notice that he already left. After six days of not hearing from him, she finally gathered the courage and called her sister to tell her what happened. Surprisingly, her sister was very understanding and did not resort to usual “I told you so”.

    However, she was very adamant, that Maria should get in touch with an immigration law firm because after all Paul used her to get to Canada and faked his way to permanent residence. It is important to realize that family reunion programs in Canada are aimed for those who have genuine feelings towards each other and just happen to have different nationalities.

    As her sister explained to her, this was not only betrayal of Maria, but also family values that Canada’s immigration system embraces. Contacting an immigration law firm to figure out what can be done is the least Maria owed to herself; it was not a punishment for Paul, but the first step towards healing from this painful end of her relationship.

    While her sister was right, Maria still waited until December to contact the immigration law firm, because she was hurting and hoping he would come back.

    Sadly, Paul did not get in touch with her after their first and last conversation, and she knew it was over. He simply used her; she had to accept the reality and finally gathered the courage to move towards the healing process from her failed marriage.

    Maria contacted our office to obtain some advice. We advised her that she can submit a package to Canada Border Services Agency detailing her entire story with ideally some paper evidence and request CBSA to open an investigation. Should the investigation go through, Paul will be interviewed by immigration, and it will be determined whether he is allowed to maintain his permanent resident status. We comforted her by advising her that immigration takes these matters very seriously.

    Maria decided to put in the investigation package.

    I want to move to Canada. Is it possible?

    Moving to Canada

    Nancy Elliott
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    I want to move to Canada. Is it possible?


    As the dust settles after the hard-fought US presidential battle, many Americans are considering a move to Canada. Of course, threatening to go to Canada in exasperation is not the same thing as analyzing, planning and relocating, and many Americans do not know where to begin.

    Here’s what to do:

    1. Decide that you want to transfer
    Consider all of the advantages and disadvantages of moving to Canada. It’s tough to leave home, and relocating can be both intimidating and exciting. Canada is a beautiful, clean and diverse country with sophisticated political and legal systems, universal healthcare, advanced technology infrastructure and world-class education. Research employment, business and investment opportunities, taxation, housing and education, and consider where you would like to live. For example, the climate is warmer in Vancouver, but Toronto is Canada’s centre of commerce.

    2. Consider the time frame
    Maybe you are ready to move tomorrow, but your kids have just started a new school year. Obtaining permanent residence (a Canadian green card) can take many months and often over a year. Perhaps you are qualified for a work permit that could allow you to relocate within weeks or months. Which would work better for you?

    3. Get proper advice
    Canadian immigration law can seem daunting, as there are many different categories with specific requirements. We can assess your situation and provide you with the best solution to successfully immigrate or work in Canada.

    4. Apply
    Many work permit applications can be made right at the Canadian border. Others require prior approval and consideration at a Canadian Embassy or Consulate in the United States. We can guide you through the process.

    5. Move to Canada!
    Get ready to begin your new life in Canada. Explore places to live, schools and communities.

    So how can you successfully apply for residence in Canada?

    Get a Work Permit

    There are many different types of work permits available to US citizens. They include the following:

    • NAFTA professionals for a large variety of occupations, from scientists to management consultants – the catch is you need to find a job in your profession first.
    • Intra-company transferees – if your company has a parent, subsidiary or affiliate in Canada, you can be transferred provided you are a senior manager or possess specialized knowledge. Your business can even set up a new entity in Canada and send you up to get it started.
    • Owner/Operator – if you are self-employed or an entrepreneur, you can set up your own business in Canada provided you have a decent plan. This category requires careful consideration and planning.

    Spouses of these types of work permit holders can also qualify for open work permits and look for employment in Canada. Kids can obtain study permits to go to school.

    Often, work permit holders can qualify for permanent residence through one of the economic categories, which means that remaining in Canada permanently

    Apply for Permanent Residence

    You have probably heard that applications for permanent residence take quite a while to process. Applicants in the Express Entry system who are invited to apply can have their applications processed in six months, whereas self-employed applications can take years.

    Canada’s Express Entry system allows applicants to apply through an electronic platform that assesses candidates according to a comprehensive ranking system. Those with higher scores are invited to apply and will have their applications quickly processed. The system allows applicants in various categories to apply, the most common program being the Federal Skilled Worker program.

    • Federal Skilled Worker – The program is based on a points system that considers an applicant’s education, experience, language ability, adaptability and whether there is a valid job offer.
    • Federal Skilled Trades – This program targets people in a variety of skilled trades, but requires them to have a minimum of English skills and a valid job offer or a certification of qualification from a province to apply.
    • Self-Employed – This category addresses athletes, actors, musicians, and others engaged in cultural activities which are either highly skilled or have significant self-employment experience. It is also open to experienced farmers who wish to operate a farm in Canada.
    • Start-up Visas – The Start-up Visa Program allows entrepreneurs to be fast-tracked for permanent residence if they can obtain financial support from a Canadian venture capital or angel fund, or from a business incubator. This underutilized program is very suitable for new and existing innovators and entrepreneurs.

    Are you ready to get Started?

    We have over two decades of experience handling all types of immigration applications and have a broad understanding of Canada’s immigration and citizenship laws and procedures.

    We can expertly guide you through the process and assist you to plan your new life in Canada.

    What Is The Processing Time For A Spousal Sponsorship Application?

    This is a very common question about the spousal sponsorship application process. Unfortunately, there is no specific answer but there are guidelines which can assist us in determining an average processing time.

    Although Citizenship and Immigration Canada provides us with approximate processing times on their website, this may not be the case in reality. The processing times always change and although Citizenship and Immigration Canada regularly update the time frames, each application will have its own processing time depending on the specific facts and complexities. As immigration lawyers, we have submitted hundreds of immigration applications and we can provide you with our approximation of the processing times based on our experiences of each visa office in Canada and outside Canada.

    If your Spousal Sponsorship application is prepared carefully and contains all required information and documents, this will definitely reduce the processing time.

    What The New “Conditional Permanent Residence” Related To Spousal Sponsorship?

    In late October 2012, the Government of Canada introduced a new rule that requires that some spouses or common-law partners live with their sponsors in a legitimate relationship for two (2) years or risk losing their permanent residence status.

    This means that, generally, spouses or partners who have been in a relationship for two (2) years or less AND who do not have children with their sponsor, MUST live in a legitimate relationship with their sponsor for two years beginning on the day the spouse/partner receives their permanent residence.

    If the spouse/partner does not remain in the relationship, their permanent residence may be revoked. There are exceptions, however, in cases where the sponsor dies and for spouses/ partners who are victims of violence, abuse and neglect by the sponsor or a person related to the sponsor.

    The Government anticipates that this new regulation will help prevent and deter immigration fraud and so-called ‘marriages of convenience’ or ‘marriages for immigration purposes’.

    Our lawyers are skilled at compiling strong applications packages for all types of immigration matters. If you would like assistance in filing a spousal sponsorship application and want to know more about how the new regulations may affect you, please feel free to contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers.

    What Can I Do If My Spousal Sponsorship Was Refused?

    How to deal with Spousal Sponsorship refusal by Canada Immigration?

    My Spousal Sponsorship Application was refused, what can I do?

    You have two (2) options.

    You may chose to start the process all over again by re-applying.
    Or, you may choose to file an Appeal of the refusal at the Immigration Appeal Division. If you are the Sponsor, you have 30 days from the day you received the refusal letter to file the Notice of Appeal.

    Re-applying and appealing the refusal both contain different legal consequences and it is important that you consult with a lawyer to understand these options properly.

    Can I Sponsor My Daughter To Canada If She Is 23 Years Old?

    How can I sponsor my daughter if she is an Adult?

    I want to sponsor my daughter to Canada but she is 23 years old. Can I still sponsor her?
    You may only be able to sponsor your daughter if she is a student continuously enrolled and attending a qualified post-secondary institution, pursuing studies on a full-time basis and depended substantially on your financial support since before she was 22 years old.

    Can I Sponsor My Girlfriend Of 2 Years To Canada?

    I have been living with my girlfriend for two years. Can I sponsor her to Canada?
    If you have lived with your girlfriend for at least one year, you are considered to be in a common law relationship which qualifies you to sponsor her under the Spousal Sponsorship category. You will need to demonstrate that you did, in fact, live together for at least one year. You must also demonstrate that you are in a permanent and genuine relationship.

    I Heard That If I Had No Family Members In Canada, I Could Sponsor My Brother?

    Section 117(1) h of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations allows the sponsorship of a family member for Permanent Residents and Canadian citizens who have no family members in or outside Canada who are Permanent Residents or Canadian citizens. This is an exceptional category, and you must ensure you meet the specific requirements. You must not have any of the following family members in or outside Canada who are Permanent Residents or Canadian citizens to qualify under this category often called “the Last Remaining Relative in Canada”:

    • spouse;
    • common law partner;
    • conjugal partner;
    • child;
    • mother or father;
    • brother or sister;
    • aunt or uncle;
    • niece of the nephew;
    • grandmother or grandfather.

    In-Canada spousal sponsorship application: What You Need To Know

    What You Need To Know If Your Spouse Is A Foreign National Living In Canada and the in-Canada spousal sponsorship application

    If you are a Permanent Resident of Canada or a Canadian citizen and you are married, or in a common-law relationship with a foreign national who is physically present in Canada, this does not automatically mean that your partner will be allowed to remain in Canada you may have to apply for the in-Canada spousal sponsorship application.

    Your partner, as he or she is a foreign national, is always required to maintain a proper and legal status in Canada whether it is, for example, a visitor visa, a study permit or a work permit.
    If you and your partner are in a committed, permanent and genuine relationship and if you have decided that you wish to continue living in Canada as a couple, you may consider the option of submitting an in-Canada (or inland) spousal sponsorship application. Should this request be approved, your partner will become a Permanent Resident of Canada and can eventually apply for Canadian citizenship should the requirements be met.

    There are significant differences between an “overseas” spousal/common-law sponsorship and an in-Canada Spousal Sponsorship application. Once an in-Canada Spousal Sponsorship has been submitted, your spouse or common-law partner may be allowed to stay in Canada until a final decision is made on this application. Your spouse or common-law partner is still required to maintain legal status in Canada.

    An overseas sponsorship does not necessarily need your spouse or partner to leave Canada while it is being processed, and can sometimes be treated more quickly than an inland application. However, at times an overseas application is impractical for some reasons. An inland application allows the entire process to be completed in Canada. However, a refusal inside Canada does not give rise to a right of appeal. This could be a major issue in some cases and must be considered carefully.

    It is important to note that if your partner received a notice to attend a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) interview and the in-Canada Spousal Sponsorship application was submitted subsequently to this notice; your partner will not necessarily be entitled to remain in Canada until finalization of the application. Your partner might be requested to leave Canada even if you are married or in a common-law relationship and even if you have a pending in-Canada Spousal Sponsorship. The fact that you have been together for many years or even the fact that you have Canadian born children together might not reverse this outcome.

    When and how you submit your in-Canada Spousal Sponsorship application can have a tremendous impact on you, your partner and the future of your family. It is crucial to consult with an immigration lawyer to ensure that you are on the right track.

    Spousal Sponsorship denied: What Options Do You Have?

    Here are some of the options available to you when spousal sponsorship was denied

    When an overseas spousal sponsorship has been refused, the sponsor will receive a letter indicating that an appeal can be made to the Immigration Appeal Division to contest the decision. The sponsor will have 30 days from the day that the letter was received to file the appeal. The couple may also choose to re-submit a spousal sponsorship application.

    Once an appeal has been filed, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada must submit a complete copy of the file (called the “Record”) to the sponsor within 120 days. The Immigration Appeal Division will then decide if the case can be settled within an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Conference. The scheduling of an ADR is currently about 3-6 months within receipt of the Record. If the file is not determined suitable for an ADR, it will proceed to a full appeal hearing which can currently take about one year and a half for scheduling.

    Once a spousal sponsorship has been refused, the couple can always re-apply. Of course, immigration will have on file the previous refusal, and it is crucial to point out and explain discrepancies which were in the previous application.

    Appeal or Re-Apply?
    It is important to clearly understand the impact of appealing or re-applying following a refusal. Should the appeal option be chosen, the couple must understand that losing the appeal will result in the following: unless a new fact arises in the file, the sponsor may no longer sponsor his/her spouse ever again given that the Immigration Appeal Division has already decided on this matter. This is called res judicata.
    It is recommended to only appeal if the spousal sponsorship application was prepared properly and contained all relevant documents and information. Many people submit incomplete applications and this results in a refusal. These cases should not be appealed and should instead result in a re-application. Re-applying has a much fast processing time (usually between 6-12 months depending on the country) versus an appeal which can take over a year. Should the second application be refused, the sponsor will always have the option of appealing that refusal. However, if the application was submitted adequately and the denial contains glaring errors, then an appeal might be the best choice.
    Before deciding on appealing a refusal of a spousal sponsorship application or re-applying, ensure you consult with an immigration lawyer to clearly understand both avenues.

    My husband was convicted of theft in the United States, can I sponsor him to Canada?

    How to address criminal inadmissibility in Canada from the US

    Yes, you can submit an application to sponsor your husband to Canada. You will need to demonstrate that you are in a permanent and committed relationship. With respect to the criminal charge, depending on when the offense was committed as well as the sentence received, the spousal application might also require a special request to overcome a possible criminal inadmissibility in Canada. Foreign nationals who have a criminal record cannot become permanent residents of Canada unless they are criminally rehabilitated. Criminal rehabilitation can occur with the passing of time or by applying for it, depending on the case. In order to determine the type of criminal inadmissibility and before submitting the spousal sponsorship, you must disclose this information to your immigration lawyer and obtain proper legal advice.

    I want to sponsor my spouse to Canada, how does it work?

    To sponsor your spouse to Canada, you must submit a sponsorship application. First, you must qualify as a sponsor, and your spouse must also be considered a member of the family class.
    Given that there are a lot of sponsorship applications being submitted which do not qualify, immigration has very strict rules when assessing these applications.
    It is crucial to execute the application carefully with all the required documents, the ones listed on the immigration website as well as other documents which are not listed and can be provided to you by an immigration lawyer. An incomplete application may cause long delays as well as the potential refusal of your request. Submitting a well-organized application will most likely result in your application being processed faster.

    As a sponsor, you must:

    • be 18 years or older
    • be a Canadian citizen or a Permanent Resident of Canada
    • be married or in a common-law relationship (living together for at least one year)
    • reside in Canada or if living outside Canada, demonstrate the intention to return to Canada
    • in the five years preceding the sponsorship application, you did not become a permanent resident after being yourself sponsored to Canada by a spouse
    • not receive social assistance for a reason other than disability
    • not be an undischarged bankrupt under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act
    • not have persons you previously sponsored, or their family members received social assistance during the validity period of the undertaking
    • not be ordered to leave Canada, not be the subject of a report on inadmissibility
    • not be late in making any required payments on an immigration loan, a performance bond or any other amounts you agreed to pay under Canadian immigration legislation
    • not be currently detained in jail, prison, penitentiary or reformatory
    • not be convicted of a sexual offense or serious violent offense against anyone causing bodily harm against someone who is related to you, or an attempt to commit such an offense
    • not be in default of a court order to make support payments to your spouse, former spouse or child
    • not be the subject of an application to revoke your Canadian citizenship
    • not be charged with an offense under an Act of Parliament punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least ten years

    You must also demonstrate that your relationship with your spouse is permanent and genuine. This is the most important It is important to submit strong supporting documents for this even though you may have children together or if you have been in a relationship for many years.
    It is best to consult with an immigration lawyer to discuss the entire sponsorship process as there are many elements to consider.

    Is My Spouse Medically Inadmissible?

    How to address a medical inadmissibility issue

    I would like to sponsor my spouse for permanent residence in Canada. She is here on a study permit, which will expire in December 2013, and we were married last week in Markham. Recently, she was diagnosed with a rare blood disease which will require ongoing medical care, but she will likely live a full and long life. Will she be refused permanent residence as she is medically inadmissible? If so, will this affect her study permit? How can she remain with me in Canada?

    There are three types of medically inadmissible people: people with a health condition that is likely to be a danger to public health, individuals with a health condition that is likely to be a threat to public safety, and people with a health condition that might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services. Although all applicants for permanent residence must take a medical examination, spouses, common-law partners, and minor children are exempt from part of the rules regarding medical inadmissibility. If your sponsored spouse has a medical condition which is a danger to the public health or safety, she will be found to be medically inadmissible.

    However, If her disease will not pose such a risk (i.e. she would just be ineligible for excessive demand on health or social services), she will not be medically inadmissible. If the blood disease she has is not contagious or otherwise dangerous to the public, you can still succeed in your sponsorship application. If it turns out that she has a condition that she will pose a danger, you should obtain further legal advice, as she may still be able to stay in Canada with proper monitoring and treatment.

    What Are The Conditions I Must Abide By If My Spouse Is Sponsoring Me?

    I am about to submit my application for permanent residence as a sponsored spouse, and I have heard that my visa will be subject to terms and conditions. What are the conditions?
    The new regulations came into effect on October 25, 2012 and apply only to sponsored spouses, common-law partners and conjugal partners who have been in a relationship with their sponsor for less than two years and have no children together. They require such sponsored spouses, common-law partners or conjugal partners to reside with their sponsor for a period of two years from the date of landing. Therefore, if you have been together with your spouse for at least two years, or have children together, the condition will not apply. Please be aware that if the condition does apply, you will need to maintain proper records of cohabitation for a period of two years, and ensure that you maintain contact with CIC until the condition is met. As with any change of this nature, there will be many issues that will arise for couples in this situation, and all affected couples should keep themselves informed of the regulations.

    If you would like our assistance, kindly contact us to set up a consultation and we would be happy to speak with you about the immigration process(es) that you might like to undertake.

    Can I Sponsor My Spouse If I Previously Sponsored Another Spouse To Canada?

    Three years ago I was sponsored to come to Canada by my spouse. We are divorced and I want to sponsor my new spouse. Can I?
    No, not right now, but in a few years. In March 2012, the Government of Canada introduced a new rule that prevents formerly sponsored spouses from sponsoring a new spouse for the five (5) years following the date that they themselves became permanent residents. This means that if you received permanent residence (“landed”) on January 1, 2009, for example, you may not apply to sponsor your new spouse until after January 1, 2014.

    The Government anticipates that this new regulation will help prevent and deter immigration fraud and so-called ‘marriages of convenience’ or ‘marriages for immigration purposes’.

    Our lawyers are skilled at compiling strong applications packages for all types of immigration matters. If you would like assistance in filing a spousal sponsorship application and want to know more about how the regulations may affect you, please feel free to contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers.

    Can I sponsor my common-law partner if I am still legally married?

    Probably. For the purposes of immigration, Citizenship and Immigration Canada is primarily concerned with your current relationship. If you are legally separated from your spouse and have been in a continuous, marriage-like relationship with your common-law partner for at least one year, you may be eligible to sponsor your common-law partner.
    Your eligibility will be assessed when you submit your Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking, but, in most cases, the fact that you have not divorced your former spouse should not be a bar to your application to sponsor your current common-law partner. You will also be required to complete the Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union form and submit it with your application.

    Citizenship and Immigration Canada defines marital status categories as follows:

    Annulled Marriage: This is a marriage that is legally declared invalid. An annulment can also be a declaration by the Catholic Church that the marital union did not have a binding force.

    Common-Law: This means that you have lived continuously with your partner in a marital-type relationship for a minimum of one year.

    Divorced: This means that you are officially separated and have legally ended your marriage.

    Legally Separated: This means that you are married, but no longer living with your spouse.

    Married: This means that you and your spouse have had a ceremony that legally binds you to each other. Your marriage must be legally recognized in the country where it was performed and in Canada.

    Single: This means that you have never been married and are not in a common-law relationship.

    Widowed: This means that your spouse has died and that you have not re-married or entered into a common-law relationship.
    It should be noted that there is a prohibition against polygamy in the immigration rules. A common-law partner sponsorship cannot be used to sponsor a second or subsequent spouse, as an existing marriage, consisting of a conjugal relationship between spouses, is a barrier to any further spousal or common-law partner sponsorship applications.
    Our lawyers are skilled at compiling strong applications packages for all types of immigration matters. If you would like assistance in filing a spousal sponsorship application and want to know more about how the regulations may affect you, please feel free to contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers.

    I Am Afraid To Leave My Abusive Spouse As He Sponsored Me To Canada, What Can I Do?

    What you should do if your under spousal abuse and spousal sponsorship in Canada

    I was sponsored by a Canadian citizen as his spouse, and we have been living together for three years. Lately, we have had financial difficulties and we have been quarreling Last month, he came home drunk and physically assaulted me. He apologized but then he did it again a week ago. I want to leave him as I am afraid and do not know what to do. I am afraid I will lose my immigration status as I am not a citizen yet. What should I do?
    You should seek help immediately and look for assistance to leave the home if that is what you have decided to do. You can first call the Assaulted Women’s Helpline at 416.863.0511, or 1.866.863.0511 if you are outside of the Toronto area. If he ever assaults you again, call the police at 9-1-1 and press charges. Although you were sponsored to come to Canada, this does not mean that you must stay in a violent relationship. As a permanent resident, you have your own status and are free to leave. It would be a good idea to document your situation by seeking medical help and documents, as well as police reports, if available. I also recommend that you seek specific advice regarding your status to discuss various legal issues, including immigration, family, and criminal matters. Remember that your safety, and the safety of any children in the household, should be your first priority.

    Were You Involved In A Marriage Fraud?

    If you were involved in a Marriage fraud here is what you should consider moving forward.

    I came to Canada as a student and was doing poorly in school and worried that I was not going to be able to graduate. I was supposed to apply to extend my study permit but I had failed courses and worried that I would not get the new permit. The immigration consultant I was introduced to told me that I would never be able to get the new permit, and instead arranged a fake marriage for me. Stupidly, I agreed and I have married two months ago. My application for permanent residence was submitted one month ago, and I am very worried about it. I need some advice because I don’t know what to do. I cannot tell my parents.
    You are one of many, many Chinese students who have been caught up in marriage fraud, and who have been led to believe that this is an easy alternative to obtaining permanent residence status in Canada. Since the Canadian government began taking the issue of marriage fraud seriously in the past several years, there have been numerous arrests of immigration consultants, but more notably, there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of investigations into individual clients. If the marriage is found to be fraudulent, you will not only be refused permanent residence status but will be asked to leave Canada. Furthermore, if your case is approved, Immigration can always learn of the fraud later (for example, if the consultant is caught, or you or your spouse attempt to sponsor someone else), and then order you deported from Canada, at which time you will lose your permanent residence status. In addition, new Citizenship Act rules will allow the government to revoke citizenship status more easily in these cases. In short, you will never be completely safe, and this is not a happy way to live your life in Canada. You should seek proper legal advice from an immigration lawyer right away and plan to withdraw your application for permanent residence before the situation goes too far. With the right preparation, you may be able to resolve your problems and remain in Canada.


    Spousal Sponsorship Appeal Refusal – What Are Your Options?

    I applied to sponsor my husband and his application was refused by the Canadian Embassy in Hong Kong. I appealed this to the Immigration Appeal Division and I just received the decision which is again refusing the application. I have been told I can appeal to the Federal Court. Is this possible?
    It is possible to apply to the Federal Court for judicial review of the decision of the Immigration Appeal Division, however, this is not a full appeal. The Federal Court’s jurisdiction is limited to determining whether the Immigration Appeal Division made an error or acted contrary to principles of fairness when it rendered its decision, for example an error of fact, error of law, error of jurisdiction or denied you procedural fairness in rendering its decision. The judicial review process is very different from an appeal, and you are not able to provide new evidence to support your case or provide verbal testimony. The application is done on the basis of the written reasons of the Immigration Appeal Division, and the documentary evidence previously submitted at your appeal hearing. You have only 15 days from the date of receiving the decision to file an application for judicial review, so you must have a lawyer review the decision with you right away to decide whether you have grounds to apply.

    I Was Sponsored By My Spouse But He Has Now Abandoned Me – Will I Get Deported?

    Spousal sponsorship abandonment: How to deal with it.

    I came to Canada as a sponsored spouse last year. Last month, my husband abandoned me, after a very difficult period of terrible arguments and finally violence. I am afraid that he will have me deported from Canada, and I am worried because my visa is conditional on us cohabiting for two years.

    What should I do?

    You should seek proper legal advice right away. Although the law now requires sponsored spouses to cohabit for a minimum of two years, it also contemplates situations where cohabitation is no longer possible, in particular in situations of domestic violence. You should ensure that you have all police or medical records if there are any, and be prepared to answer questions from immigration officers. Your lawyer will be able to prepare you properly, and relieve some of the stress you must be experiencing.