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A Comprehensive Guide: How to Immigrate to Canada as a Couple

12 January, 2024

A Comprehensive Guide: How to Immigrate to Canada as a Couple

Whether you are in an engagement, marriage, or a common-law relationship, Canada provides several immigration programs tailored for couples.

 

Spousal Sponsorship:

 

One of the most effective ways for a couple to immigrate to Canada is through spousal sponsorship. This option is ideal if you already have a spouse or partner residing in Canada, or if your spouse or partner is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
 
If your spouse is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, they have the opportunity to sponsor you to join them in Canada and attain permanent resident status, provided that your spouse meets specific eligibility criteria.
 
To be eligible to sponsor a spouse or partner, the sponsor must meet the following criteria:
 
1. Age Requirement:
 
The sponsor must be at least 18 years of age.
 
2. Residency Status:
 
The sponsor should be a Canadian permanent resident living in Canada or a Canadian citizen.
 
3. Legal Standing:
 
The sponsor must not be in prison, bankrupt, under a removal order (if a permanent resident), or charged with a serious offence.
 
The sponsor must not have been sponsored to Canada as a spouse within the last 5 years.
In addition to the sponsor's eligibility, both you and your sponsor must demonstrate the nature of your relationship, falling under one of three categories:
 
a) Spouse:
 
You are legally married. If the marriage occurred within Canada, a Certificate of Marriage from the province or territory is sufficient to prove its validity. If the marriage took place outside Canada, it must be legally valid in that country and also meet Canadian federal law requirements.
 
b) Common-law Partner:
 
You have cohabitated continuously for at least one year.
 
c) Conjugal Partner:
 
A sponsored person may be considered a conjugal partner if exceptional circumstances, beyond their control (such as immigration barriers or legal restrictions), have prevented the partners from qualifying as common-law partners or spouses.
 
The partners must be in a mutually dependent relationship for at least one year, demonstrating a commitment level comparable to that of a marriage or common-law partnership. This commitment can be evidenced through emotional ties, intimacy, financial closeness (such as joint ownership of assets), and efforts to spend time together and reunite.

 

Express Entry:

 

Express Entry is the Canadian federal government's management system for three primary immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).
 
1. If you and your spouse wish to apply for Canadian permanent residency through Express Entry, there are two options:
2. The main applicant can list the spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner as a dependent.
 
Alternatively, the spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner can be named as a secondary applicant.
 
It's essential to note that dependents can only be included when applying to the FSWP and the FSTP, as the CEC does not permit dependents on applications.
 
When you designate your spouse or partner as a dependent in your Express Entry application, you become the primary applicant and must furnish evidence of sufficient settlement funds. Meeting the proof of funds requirement is crucial to demonstrate your capability to financially support both yourself and your dependents upon relocation to Canada.
 
However, it's important to note that when your spouse or partner is considered a dependent in your application, their profile will not be factored into the calculation of your overall Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. The CRS score is a pivotal component used to rank candidates based on factors such as age, education, language proficiency, and work experience. Candidates with the highest CRS scores receive invitations to apply for permanent residence in Express Entry draws.
 
If your spouse qualifies for Express Entry, they have the option to apply as a secondary applicant. In this scenario, each spouse creates their own Express Entry profile and includes the other spouse in their respective profiles. This approach allows you to claim an additional 40 Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points for your partner's profile when submitting your own application.
 
While this method still necessitates the provision of proof of funds, it operates differently because your partner is viewed as a contributor to the program. The success of this strategy relies on considering which partner possesses the stronger profile. Factors such as language proficiency, level of education, and other CRS criteria should be evaluated to determine the optimal approach. If your partner excels in CRS factors, listing them as a secondary applicant can enhance your overall CRS score. Conversely, if their CRS score is lower, designating them as a dependent may be a more strategic choice.

 

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) for Couples:

 

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) presents an excellent opportunity for couples seeking to relocate to Canada. Virtually every province and territory in Canada administers its own PNP, designed to attract skilled workers to contribute to the local workforce.
 
When applying for the PNP, the partner with the stronger qualifications, including work experience and education, should act as the primary immigration candidate. If you are the one with stronger credentials, you would declare your spouse or partner as a dependent in the application.
 
Similar to Express Entry, as the primary applicant, you must furnish proof of sufficient funds to establish yourselves in Canada.
 
Alternatively, if both you and your spouse meet eligibility criteria, you have the option to submit separate applications to immigration programs. In this approach, you can withdraw one application when you receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA). This strategy allows flexibility and optimization of both partners' qualifications in the immigration process.

 

Open Work Permit for Spouses:

 

Spouses and partners of Canadian citizens or permanent residents have the opportunity to obtain an open work permit while their sponsorship application for permanent residence is in progress.
 
This type of permit allows sponsored individuals to work for any employer in Canada, providing financial support for themselves and their family throughout the immigration application procedure.
 
To be eligible for an open work permit, the foreign national must:
 
  • Be the principal applicant who has submitted a permanent residence application under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class; or, as a spouse, common-law, or conjugal partner under the family class that has been accepted for processing by IRCC after meeting a completeness check, and that has not been refused or withdrawn.
  • Have submitted a work permit application with a requested duration of a maximum of two years.
  • Be the subject of a sponsorship application submitted by their Canadian citizen or permanent resident spouse, common-law, or conjugal partner.
  • Have the same residential address as their sponsor in Canada at the time of the application.
  • Hold a valid temporary resident status in Canada or be eligible for and have applied for the restoration of their status.
  • Both the applicant and the sponsor must meet all eligibility requirements under spousal or common-law partner sponsorship.
If you want to immigrate with your partner, we can help you! You can contact our team and check if you are eligible to immigrate to Canada! Take advantage of our free online assessment today!

 

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