Dear Ms Powell,
Thank you for keeping Jamaicans worldwide informed. I live in Alberta and I was born in Jamaica. About two years ago, I sponsored a girl to come to Canada. We weren't married, just common law. Things didn't work out, so we split up. I don't even know where she is right now. I met another really, nice Christian woman from Jamaica and I plan to marry her and take her here. We are planning to be married next June. Will the fact that I sponsored someone before affect my ability to sponsor my fiancÈe?
There are several issues here. We need to look at your duties as a sponsor, the date that your sponsorship application was approved, and the reason for the separation.
The critical date in this situation is October 25, 2012. Was your sponsorship application approved before or after that date?
In October 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) introduced new rules relating to spousal sponsorship. These new rules stipulate that the person being sponsored must live with his or her sponsored spouse, in a legitimate relationship for a minimum of two years, from the day of his or her spouse's permanent residence status in Canada. If your common-law spouse is unable to provide the requisite proof of this when required, she could have her permanent residence revoked.
Finances for support
Now to the most critical question: "Can you sponsor your fiancÈe?" If you sponsor a spouse to immigrate to Canada, CIC requires that you provide it with proof that you can meet the basic need of your new fiancÈe, yourself, your family, support your relative financially, and, most important, ensure that your spouse will not require financial help from the government.
When you sponsored your common-law partner, you gave an undertaking to be responsible for her for a minimum of three years from the date that she became a permanent resident. This responsibility does not change even if she has left your home. If she is forced to seek government assistance during the three years, then that could become your responsibility. In fact, you will be barred from sponsoring your new spouse if three years have not yet passed.
As mentioned before, if your common-law spouse received a conditional permanent residence and this was not already approved for full permanent residence, then she runs the risk of being returned to Jamaica if it was found out that she is no longer in a legitimate relationship with you. If her permanent residence is revoked, then CIC may evaluate the circumstances that led to the separation and could even bar you for a number of years from sponsoring someone new, even if that person is your wife.
Your case is not a cut-and-dry case, and, therefore, I strongly recommend that you consult with an immigration lawyer and provide additional information before you make any further decisions. It is imperative that you do this to protect yourself and your new fiancÈe.
n Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada bars, with main office located in Ottawa, Ontario. Her areas of practice are in immigration, real estate, commercial, personal injury, family and administration of estates. She is on the roster of Mediators for Ottawa, Toronto and the Dispute Resolution Foundation of Jamaica.