Immigration Corner | Can my Canadian wife sponsor me while living in Jamaica?
Dear Miss Powell,
I am married to a Canadian citizen. We got married three years ago and since then, she has not returned to Canada. She is a stay-at-home mom and does not work. Since the pandemic, we have decided that it’s best for our family to move to Canada, but we are not sure how this would work. I am the main breadwinner and rely on the support of my wife, who takes care of the children and our home. We cannot afford to be apart, and so we want to know if she can sponsor us even though she is not living in Canada? What if I co-sign to be responsible, would that help? I own a lot of properties in Jamaica and a business. Also, the children are mine. Can they be added to the application? How long does the application take? I look forward to your response.
The application for sponsorship of a family member is a two-step process. The first step is for your sponsor to prove that she is qualified, and the second is for the sponsored individuals to prove that they are eligible and admissible to Canada.
WHO CAN SPONSOR?
The short answer is that if your spouse is a citizen of Canada, but currently outside of Canada, to qualify as a sponsor, she must first show that she plans to live in Canada when you and qualified relatives become permanent residents.
SHE CANNOT SPONSOR ANYONE IF:
1. She is permanently living outside of Canada and do not plan to return to Canada.
2. She is receiving social assistance from the Government of Canada, unless the assistance is related to a disability.
3. She is bankrupt and not discharged.
4. If she violated a court order to pay spousal or child support.
5. If she committed a crime of a violent or sexual nature. If any of you have a criminal record, you need to see an immigration lawyer immediately.
6. She sponsored someone before and failed to honour her sponsorship agreement or have an immigration loan outstanding.
7. She is under a Canadian removal order.
The above is just a few of the reasons that would bar someone from sponsoring a relative. If your spouse does not fall in any of the categories above, then she may be able to apply to bring her immediate family members, such as spouse and dependent children. Each child must qualify as a dependent under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and supporting regulations.
WHO CAN BE SPONSORED?
An eligible spouse, common-law or conjugal partner and dependent children can be sponsored by a citizen or permanent resident of Canada. A dependent child is defined as ‘either a biological child or an adopted child of a parent’. A ‘biological child’ includes children born to the parent making the application, is not genetically related to the parent making the application, but was born to the person who, at the time of the birth of the child, was that parent’s spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner, or a child who was born through the application of assisted human reproduction technologies. The proof of biological relationship between a child and a parent is a birth certificate or baptismal certificate.
The dependent child must be less than 22 years old to qualify for sponsorship. The ‘locked-in date’ is the date when a complete application is received by the government of Canada. An unmarried child that is less than 22 years old qualifies. If a child is over 22 years old and dependent on their parent due to a physical or mental condition, he/she is eligible, provided that the child remains dependent on the parent when the confirmation of permanent residence is issued.
UNDERTAKING TO SPONSOR
A Canadian citizen who sponsors a spouse or common-law partner and dependents must sign a minimum three-year sponsorship agreement with the government of Canada. This is an undertaking to provide full financial support to the partner and children for a specified period, based on the age of the children. That means that if the persons being sponsored seek social assistance during that specified period, then the sponsor will be required to repay the government. This obligation will remain in effect even if you are divorced or separated.
Therefore, a Canadian citizen must clearly show that she intends to return to Canada when the application has been approved, and that she has the resources to be able to satisfy the undertaking to sponsor. She will need to be prepared to provide proof of the latest income tax returns and proof of assets in Canada.
Spousal sponsorship is a unique category and sponsors are not usually required to prove a minimum income to sponsor their spouse and dependent children. However, you and your spouse will need to clearly show that you are able to take care of yourselves and the children’s basic needs, such as food, shelter, dental care, and other medical expenses that are not included under your provincial healthcare system.
You indicated that you are the main “breadwinner” and can continue to provide for your family. In some cases, IRCC may consider your personal resources and your ability to provide for yourself and children. However, you should note that you cannot sign as a co-sponsor to your own application.
HOW LONG DOES A SPONSORSHIP APPLICATION TAKE?
The Canadian government recognises that family unification is important, and so they have pledged to complete a sponsorship application in approximately 12 months, from start to finish, depending on the nature of your case. You should expect some delays due to the pandemic.
The important thing is to prepare a complete application with all the relevant documents, to clearly show that you meet the requirements. If you are concerned about your eligibility and the eligibility of your spouse and children, then you should speak directly with an immigration lawyer to assist you. An experienced immigration lawyer can guide you with application process and avoid stressful delays.
Deidre S. Powell is a Canadian immigration lawyer and notary public with offices located in Ottawa, Ontario. Connect with her via www.deidrepowell.com or via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Telephone 613-695-8777.