Tue | Nov 30, 2021

Immigration Corer | The spousal sponsorship process

Published:Tuesday | October 26, 2021 | 12:06 AM

Dear Miss Powell,

My husband is sponsoring me to go to Canada and a travel agent helped us to put together our application. She said she submitted the application over three months now, but we haven’t heard from the Canadian government. We asked the travel agent what next. She said that we just need to be patient, and as soon as she has a response she will get in touch. I know we need to be patient, but I’m still anxious as a lot of time has passed. Do we have to do an interview? I just need to know the steps to expect, to make sure we are on the right track. Thanks for your help.

– RB

Dear RB,

I must say I am amazed that you used a ‘travel agent’ to submit a sponsorship application to the Canadian government. Was this travel agent also a Canadian lawyer or an immigration consultant? Did you pay her to submit the application on your behalf? Did you get copies of the documents that were submitted and a tracking number, if the application was submitted via courier?

AUTHORISED REPRESENTATIVE

You should know that Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the department of the gvernment of Canada that deals with matters involving immigration to Canada, sponsorship applications and Canadian citizenship applications, have made it clear on its website the persons who are authorised representatives. IRCC will only accept applications from persons who are acting in a professional capacity, who are members of a law society in Canada or members of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council. Travel agents do not fall in that category. Therefore, I strongly suggest that you retain a Canadian immigration lawyer to assist you. I will, nonetheless, detail the sponsorship application process for you, and for the benefit of other readers.

Once the application is submitted to the correct office, the first step is for an officer to review the application to ensure that the right forms, documents, and proof of fees are submitted. The forms must be properly completed, validated where necessary, and signed. If your application is not complete, the entire package will be rejected and returned to you. Your application will not be processed, and your application will not be placed in the queue.

If your application passed the completeness check, you should expect to receive an acknowledgment of receipt letter. That letter will have an application number, and if you do not have a unique client identifier number, you will be assigned one. These numbers are useful to assist you to track the progress of your case on the government’s website. At this point, you or your representative can link the application to personal or representative portal and track the progress of the application.

SPONSOR’S APPROVAL

IRCC will review the application to see if your sponsor is eligible to sponsor you. They will examine your sponsor’s status in Canada, his financial standing, age, check to determine if he has previously been sponsored or sponsored another person, if he is bankrupt, and so on. If your sponsor is approved, he will get a sponsor’s eligibility approval letter.

ELIGIBILITY ASSESSMENT

The principal applicant, in this case you, will be required to provide your biometrics, if you have not done so before. This means that you will need to go to a visa application centre to provide your fingerprints and photographs. You can then expect another letter which confirms that you meet the permanent residence eligibility requirements. The next step will be to pass the medical, security, and background checks. At this point, IRCC could also request an updated police record.

MEDICAL EXAM FOR APPLICANT

You will be provided with a medical request letter with instructions to do a medical examination in your home country. You must use an IRCC panel physician. A list is on the government’s website. You usually have 30 days in which to complete this process. You must pre-book your medical and on the day of examination, you must take you passport and any other documents that the physician requests. In some cases, you may be asked to take two passport photographs. The doctor will forward the medical report directly to IRCC and provide you with confirmation. You should provide a copy of the confirmation of medical to your representative.

SECURITY SCREEN

The next step is for IRCC to conduct their security screening. At this point, IRCC, in conjunction with the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), and Canadian Security Intelligence Services and, if necessary, the Ministry of Public Service, will review your background. At this point, the agencies will check to ensure that you are not a threat to national security and your general admissibility is reviewed. Once this has been completed, the next step is usually a passport request letter, unless they deem it necessary to do an interview.

INTERVIEW

An interview is not always required. However, if IRCC has questions or doubts about your application, and the genuineness of your relationship, then you could be required to attend an interview. If you have concerns about this aspect of your application, I recommend that you consult a Canadian immigration lawyer to assist you.

DECISION MADE

If your application is not approved, you will be provided with a detailed letter with the reasons. You should contact a lawyer if you would like to appeal the decision. If your application is approved, IRCC will request that you provide your passport and two photographs, according to their specification. They will then provide you with landing documents. There will be the expiry date, or date by which you must ‘land’ in Canada, to confirm your permanent residence. A detailed letter will be provided with pre-arrival instructions.

Be prepared to be evaluated by a CBSA officer at the airport, or any port of entry. His job is to verify that your visa has not expired and that the information provided at the border matches up with your application. You will not get your permanent resident card at the airport, but you can expect it to be delivered to the address you provide. These steps are subject to change and there may be additional steps to take, due to COVID-19.

Deidre S. Powell, is a Canadian immigration lawyer with offices in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. You may contact her via www.deidrepowell.com or call 613-695-8777. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates on Canadian immigration law, policies and procedures.