Sponsoring common-law partners and non-status spouses
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What you should know about sponsoring common-law partners and non-status spouses

Margaret Cooley



Sponsoring Common-law Partners And Non-status Spouses

Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) aims to keep families together even when it comes to non-status immigrants, as long as they are in a genuine ongoing relationship with a Canadian citizen. The country offers multiple immigration options for common-law partners of Canadians and spouses to attain permanent residence in case they do not have immigration status.

IRCC classifies such cases under the “lack of status” spouses and partners category. The objective is to prevent difficulties for couples who are living together already in Canada. People can receive removal orders when they are in Canada without status, but IRCC’s policies protect spouses and partners. They are not forced to leave immediately. Instead, they are allowed some time to apply as a non-status migrant for spousal or common-law sponsorship.

The “lack of status” category:

In order to take advantage of the provisions for “lack of status” spouses or common-law partners, they should satisfy any of the following conditions:

  • They overstayed their legal status as a student, worker, or visitor.
  • They have studied or worked in the absence of immigration status.
  • They came to Canada without the necessary documents or a visa.
  • They are in the country without a valid passport.
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The couple will have to fulfill all the admissibility requirements for common-law and spousal sponsorship in order to receive permanent residence. Canadians are allowed to offer sponsorship for their foreign partners, irrespective of their immigration status. However, it is mandatory for them to sign an undertaking, promising the government that they will take responsibility for meeting the basic needs of their partner or spouse and any dependent children they might have. The undertaking requirements differ between Quebec and the rest of Canada.


According to the IRCC, the undertakings are necessary because they indicate the applicant’s links with relatives in Canada.

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