The Spousal Sponsorship application process is a daunting and time consuming task. It is very administrative for the most part, but can also be overwhelming and challenging should a case not be straight-forward (previous marriages, arranged marriages, marriages less than 2 years, children from previous marriages, common-law relationships) . Typical spousal applications are between 120 - 150 pages, after including all government forms and accompanying evidentiary documents. If documents are required to be translated, it can be as many as 200 pages.
The Canadian government has become increasingly more strict when reviewing applications and granting approvals. There has been a growing number of fraudulent applications from people who are using the Spousal Sponsorship application process to obtain permanent residence illegally. This has made it much more challenging to prepare a strong application that will be approved without issues. Often, when individuals attempt to apply on their own, the application is weak and the visa officer is not convinced of the genuineness of the relationship. They will either request an interview for both people, issue a fairness letter requesting more evidence with further explanation, or an outright refusal. Approximately 40% of the clients our firm retains is after a refusal, when they apply on their own.
The IRCC is largely to blame for the large number of refusals. The IRCC post forms online with instructions on the process, giving the impression that the process is easy and can be done by yourself. Only after starting the process on your own and having the application returned or refused, will a person understand the complexity involved. If an application is returned for using outdated forms, or for being incomplete, it will delay the process by 2 to 3 months. If an application is refused, PR will not be granted for over 2 years. If the application was an Outland application, and your spouse comes from a non visa-exempt country which requires a TRV visa to travel to Canada, they will not be able to travel to Canada for a minimum of 2 years, unless they already have a TRV visa. After a refused spousal application, the IRCC will not approve a TRV visa.
• Application is returned: If an application was not complete, CPC-M will return the application after 2 to 2.5 months. If the application was filed Inland, and a person is relying on implied status via the Open Work Permit being approved, they will fall out of status as the work permit will not be processed. If the person has been out of status for less than 90 days, they can apply for Restoration of Status and resubmit the Spousal application. If 90 days have passed since falling out of status, they will need to leave Canada.
• In person interviews: People often get nervous and act suspicious, or they answer questions incorrectly- this happens all too often. The visa officer will take detailed notes of the interview and will refuse the application if they are not convinced after the interview.
• Fairness letter: IRCC will send a letter, requesting additional information. It is imperative to provide a detailed submission letter, along with evidence that will support the application. Failure to do so will result in a refusal. If you find yourself in this situation, it is strongly advised to retain professional help to help prepare a response.
• Refusal: If an Inland Spousal application is refused, there are no rights to an appeal (as there are with Outland applications). If an application is refused, the person in Canada will most likely no longer have status (unless they are a student or worker). The only option would be to retain a law firm to file a Judicial review on the original application or submit a new application. A Judicial Review process will take 6 to 12 months, plus up to 6 additional months for IRCC to process the application. If the application was an Outland application, an appeal can be filed with the IAD (immigration appeal division) and a hearing date will be scheduled to be held in 1.5 to 2 years. During this time, your spouse will not be able to travel to Canada, unless they already have a valid TRV. If they do not have a valid TRV, the IRCC will not issue a TRV after a refused sponsorship application.
Proving the genuineness of a relationship:
The IRCC scrutinizes the genuineness of every relationship to ensure the applicant is not committing marriage fraud in order to immigrate. If the officer is not convinced the marriage is genuine, they will refuse the application and can ban the sponsored spouse for 5 years from entering Canada for misrepresentation.
Some criteria that the IRCC takes into consideration when assessing applications:
Compatibility of couple
Co-habitation (or lack of)
Length of relationship (2 years and shorter require more documents)
Differences in religion, or caste (eg: Indian, Pakistani relationships)
Difference in education
Most common mistakes which result in returned applications (2 to 3 month delay):
Outdated / Incorrect version of Forms: ( 8 - 10 in total). Forms change every 1 -2 months.
Incorrectly answering questions: (approximately 200 total)
Leaving questions blank / unanswered / not using "N/A" where applicable
Missing Required Forms / Documents / Evidence
Incorrect picture specifications: no D.O.B, Studio Name, Date taken, too much/too little white space around head.
Incorrect fees paid or not included in application
Mixing up the "Principal applicant" and the "Sponsor"
Country Specific Requirements: Not included or incorrect
Other potential Issues:
Application not linking to online account
Open Work Permit not issued
Issues with Police checks
Issues with divorce records
Issues with children from another marriage (accompanying and non-accompanying)
Contact us for more information about the Spousal Sponsorship application process or for assistance in preparing an application.
Matkowsky and Associates