In Spousal/Common Law Sponsorship
Nancy Elliott
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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.